Costa Rica costa plenty
Trip Start Dec 01, 2009
29Trip End Aug 01, 2010
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
nadya: Our first stop was Playa Del Coco, where we stayed with my sister Taryn's friend, Gavin. So lovely to have a bit of luxury again (TV, fridge, washing machine, pool...sigh)... and lucky for us too, cos Costa Rica is expensive - everything about double the price of Nicaragua! This part of the Costa Rican coast is very touristy and developed, full of Americans (most of whom have bought land or holiday houses here), shopping centres everywhere, condo complexes, and loads of hotels and restaurants, (plenty of American chains too), and billboards galore, advertising the next enticing beach development... it doesn't feel like latin america at all, and I kept getting this overwhelming feeling that we were somewhere in the States, like Florida, or even, closer to home... Randburg... weird! The upside is that the infrastructure is good, and the locals seem a lot more prosperous. The roads are the best we've experienced, and there are actually signs, telling you which roads go where! - something that has been severely lacking everywhere else (our powers of intuition have been improving in strides)...
After spending a week resting up in Coco - even had a great braai one night, and also did a couple of day trips to various beaches and Rio Celeste (a thermal sulphur river) - we headed down the coast...
pengs: We took the rough road down the coast and Rojo had a blast fording rivers and driving on the beach (check out the videos for all the action). The coast got more and more beautiful, the further south we drove. The massive developments we had encountered close to Playa Coco were giving way to glorious stretches of beaches fringed by jungle. In usual form we were trying to find some surf and hopped down the coast trying to find that forgiving break we needed.Our first stop was Playa Guiones and we had fun for a couple of days playing on a small break there. Then down to Malpais for Semana Santa (Easter). Semana Santa is HUGE here and everyone heads to the beach. So contrary to all the advice we received, we decided to carry on camping along the coast, along with just about every other Costa Rican and their grandmother, as well as their grandmother's dog!
nadya: We somehow managed to find a relatively quiet campspot right on the beach, under a forest of coconut palms near Montezuma, and spent our Easter along with all the other Costa Rican families... And we found some incredible surf nearby, so we were happy!
We went for a long walk one day in search of a waterfall and ended up on a really remote stretch of beach (quite unusual after all the hecticness of Semana Santa), so we decided to stop and chill for awhile... Pengs went snorkelling, and I lay on the beach, reading my book... next thing I knew, this guy approached me with a knife (not that unusual cos everyone seems to walk around with a machete), and yanked my backpack out from under my head (where I had especially placed it for safekeeping) and ran off...!! It all happened so quickly, but I ran after him shouting "fuck you motherfucker"... but of course by that stage it was too late! (Anyway, don't know what I was thinking I'd do if I'd even caught up with him). So I unfortunately lost my camera and binoculars, along with a couple of other little things - big bummer!!! I was SO pissed off... (Luckily I had swopped my cards out so didn't lose any pics, thank God for some foresight). Found it quite strange tho, cos I usually manage to avoid such situations... Pengs had spotted the guy earlier and mentioned that she thought he was dodgy - should've listened to her instinct and left, but I think it was just that we both lost a bit of wariness and let out guards down, cos Costa Rica just feels so affluent, more than anywhere else we've been... It was just the last thing I was expecting...
So only my pics of that day are lost, which means i'm not able to show off the amazing beaches, marbled with white and black sands and skirted by lush jungle... ah well... Anyways, managed to buy another cheap camera in the next town (another saga I'm not going to go into), and life goes on! (expensive lesson...)
As we headed further south, things started getting gradually greener, and thankfully less dusty - it was such a relief after driving so many dirt roads and so much hot, dry weather. We hit the first rain in a long time in Uvita, and believe it or not, found it a welcome change... Did a glorious walk on the beach here at low tide along a land formation that is strikingly similar to a whale's tail.
pengs: We headed towards one of our main destinations in Costa Rica: Corcovado. National Geographic has called it "the most biologically intense place on earth" and we had heard numerous tales from other travellers of incredible wildlife spottings. Thus far on our trip, we have been on plenty of walks but we have seen almost nothing when it comes to fauna, so we were really keen to explore this wilderness outpost. Of course, it is difficult to access and you have to hike 20kms (along beach and in forest with all your camping and cooking gear as well as your food) to get into the centre of the park, but it was worth it! The walk was exhausting and extremely hot, however the panoramas of the thick jungle spilling right onto the beach and the misty silhouettes of macaws flying overhead kept us going. We spent 1 day at the central ranger station (felt like the "Others" settlement from Lost), exploring some of the trails close to camp and it was like the jungle was stuffed full of animals and birds. We saw toucans, macaws (great to see in their natural habitat) and other parrots, 4 different types of monkeys, tapirs, coatis, tayras and snakes. I think we both agreed that this was one of the highlights of our trip. Incredibly beautiful and untouched.
On our way to and from Corcovado, we stopped off at an isolated surf spot, Matapalo. This wave is insane. It is a right point break and when the swell gets big, you can ride for almost a kilometre over 2 bays. It wasn´t that big when we were there, but I think we both had some of the best surfs of our lives and I have never seen a more perfect wave. J-Bay watch out! We also stopped off at another surf spot on our way out, Pavones, but this was a lot more crowded and not nearly as good (we thought), but still not too bad.
nadya: Costa Rica was surprising in so many ways... Yes, it's incredibly touristy, but they obviously also realise the value of nature and the draw of tourists that preserving it brings. Although the north felt very developed and incredibly Americanised, the further south we travelled, the more wild and untouched it seemed to become - just jaw-droppingly beautiful... It was also so refreshing to see hardly any dead dogs on the roads, few strays, and hardly any mistreated horses (common occurences everywhere else). We managed to find out-of-the-way spots (the bonus of having a car) that were incredibly rewarding and although it was probably the least culturally interesting country we had visited, we loved the nature!
We are slowly moving towards Panama (slower than we originally planned because of ongoing issues with our car title, which has been dogging us since we left the States) and are gearing up for the next leg: South America.