Costa Rica now

Trip Start Aug 28, 2004
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Trip End Aug 2005


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Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Well after what was seemingly the most ferry and bus journies to get from one border into another!!! (starting at 4.00am and arriving at the final destination at 4:00pm). We finally reached "Tilaran", a small town in the hills surrounding "Laguna Arenal" (in Costa Rica).

What a refreshing environment, as at last we have got some cooler weather, but still with a lot of humidity!!! The surrounding environment here, is full of hills upon which are placed many wind turbines, a good source of energy in a very windy climate!!! The scenery on the way here was quite spectacular, as we saw quite a drastic change in both the way in which the land in Costa Rica is used and looked after (in comparison to other C. American countries we´ve visited). Costa Rica is visably a wealthier country, more organised in it{s land management too and you can just sense it in the way people approach you (well used to tourists and much more geared up to helping you out). Our stay in "Tilaran" was a brief one and we moved onto "La Fortuna" in order to be able to witness the most active of all the volcanoes in C. America, although in wider figures it does not even rate in the top 20% for being dangerous!!!!

"La Fortuna" offers many opportunities to go horse riding, motor biking, trekking, flying around above cloud forests, wind surfing and fishing on the Lake itself and generally relaxing in some of the most luxury "Spa Bats" we have ever witnessed. In addition to this you are surrounded by some of the most amazing scenery, when the cloud cover lifts sufficiently to allow you to take in the scenery!!!! The whole region recieves a phenomenal amount of rain annually (6-7 meters inthe dry season alone).

We took a trek thro´some of the rainforest at the base of "Volcan Arenal" and saw a fair bit of wildlife, "Howler and Spider Monkeys", Toucans although they were quite a way away so no photo opportunities there!!! Our guide "Heinrich" (his mother saw the name in a magazine and liked it??) was ace and gave us quite a run down on the local flora & Fauna within the forest. We hit the viewing point for the volńcano at around 6.00pm and waited for the action to begin.....Initially all we could see/hear was a cracking and a rumble, there was definately some volcanic/geothermic activity going on!!! We were then swiftly moved onto the main viewing point where we got to see the jets of lava spurting out from several points. It was pretty impressive despite visibility being poor due to a lot of cloud cover from the weather and made our visit well worthwhile (but without proper camera we were unable to get any shots to show you). After all the excitement we went and chilled out in some superb "Spa Baths" for the rest of the evening, Martin even dared try the hottest of all "Momma Spa Baths" (for a split second!!). A great end to a great day.

In addition to watching active volcnic activity, we visited a local Butterfly/Orchid Sanctuary and were given a really impressive tour and spiel of the many species and yes I might sound like a bit of a spotter it was really interesting, to be able to observe the development of Butterflies from birth thro¨to the adult stages etc.... There¨s more to it than meets the eye.

Our next stop was "San Jose", capital city and very much like entering the N. American zone as the city resembles a more cosmopolitan feel than any of the C. American cities we´ve visited. It's full of interesting nooks and crannies, lot's of museums, parks and churches etc.. we stayed at a great if a little more expensive than our usual accomadation place called; "the Gree House" and we{d definately recomment itfor it{s friendliness, cheery staff and very nice clean rooms plus little home comforts (which count) you don´t have on the move!! From San Jose we travelled up to the Carribean Coast to Rio de Tortuguero, (this opens out into the sea further on up the coast. It was an all day trip to get there involving two buses, followed by a motorboat which took a further hour and a half. We were taken thro' "Amazonian" like rainforest, which was just really tranquil and peaceful to observe the scenery pass you by.

On the way we saw "Crocdillo's', Kingfishers, Herons of all varieties and other birds we have still yet to name. The weather here was pretty hot and humid as hell. we booked into a great and cheap little "Cabana". The local population here are Afro Carribean and speak a mixture of Spanish, Creole and English. The next day we were up at 6am with a guide we had met the day before. He took us out on his canoe, with a few others to view the local Flora and Fauna and the wildlife of course!! We saw the following whilst being paddled thro' the smaller tributaries leading off the main river route in dense rainforest. "Caymen crocodillo's", "Jesuscristo" (lizards that run on water), "Tiger Herons', "Blue and Green Herons", "Yellow Vipers" in the actual jungle itself, when we got out of the canoe and walked for a short while. "Toucans" which are difficult to spot when static, they are usually zooming by in flight, rustling about in the tree's were "Cappuccino monkeys" looking for insects, "Howler monkeys" calling out for rain from above according to the local people. Which we got big time in great big bucketfuls, as a guide mentioned later "that's why we call it the rainforest, not the sunshine forest". Martin looked a treat in his yellow Poncho! Unfortunately I missed a real photo opportunity.

Later we took a long walk along the coastal beach in search of Turtles laying their eggs. We managed to see the tracks of the "Leatherback Turtles" but not actually of them laying their eggs. the weather was still bucketing down and we got soaked right thro'. The next day we walked in the opposite direction in brilliant sunshine, finding many of what are known as "Sea Stars", they are the most beautiful shell like creatures, which live for approx three weeks and then get washed up on the beach (and will make nice pendants). We did not find any turtle tracks (the area to find "Verde/Green Turtles") along this stretch. But instead we witnessed series of migrating "Pelicans" flying in V shaped formations, above us every hour or so, then we saw a "Hummingbird" flitting from flower to flower further inland, which was quite special. They are so quick, you could almost mistake them for a Butterfly.

Costa Rica is derinately a must and you will find out things pretty easily as it´s geared up for touristville in the best possible way. You may even turn into a bit of a spotter when it comes to the wildlife, it´s hard not to!! The guides are pretty excellent and know their stuff, be it about the Volcanoes, Rainforest or the Turtles.....
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