Friday, 31 August 2012

Costa Rica - Pura Vida

The last post on Costa Rica will be our supper at Barba Roja (Red Beard) where we watched the sun set over the ocean (albeit with some clouds in the way).


Very red from our sunburns!


Some random photos of towns (buildings, streets, people) we saw along our travels.

Cows in the road on our way from the airport to our first hotel.

The mountain in the back is called the Sleeping Indian (profile).
And this is a Guest House named after the mountain.

Here's the Sleeping Indian right next to Arenal Volcano.

Grocery store in La Fortuna

Santa Elena

Bridge over Rio Tarcoles - where the crocodiles are


 In summary, top 10 things to do in Costa Rica based on our experience would be:

  1. Jungle walks or hikes...whether night or day, cloud forest or rain forest, with or without hanging bridges, Costa Rica is all about the animals and plantlife from smallest to biggest.
  2. Zip-line...there are adventure tours all over the country - they're called canopy tours and you basically sail over the canopy
  3. Waterfall - take a dip in Catarata Arenal or another waterfall you may find.
  4. Volcano - there are a few active volcanoes in the country but definitely go see one
  5. Hot Springs - along with the volcanoes you will find hot springs which are a must-do
  6. Boat ride - you see different creatures than when you walk in the jungle
  7. Beach - it's not your regular groomed and maintained beach that goes on for miles, but definitely worth a visit to a Costa Rican beach nearest you.
  8. Go see a butterfly garden or conservatory.
  9. Have a drink in El Avion Restaurant in Manuel Antonio
  10. Go to the Treehouse Restaurant in Monteverde

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Manuel Antonio National Park

One of the last activities we did in Costa Rica was a guided tour of Manuel Antonio National Park.

This is a photo of the entire park which is a piece of land that juts out into the ocean with jungle in the middle and a beach on either side of the peninsula.  You start out on a dirt road which accesses the park (on the extreme left of the photo above) and you make your way on footpaths inside the jungle around the peninsula.   The tour ends at Playa Espadilla Sur (where there's a little rocky islet which forms part of the beach at low tide). 

Our guide.

Many more creatures to be seen.
More birds!

The ever elusive Toucan

More lizards and frogs!  Can you see the brown lizard on the dried brown leaf and the green one on the green leaf ?

These are bats all lined up sleeping on the tree branch!

And there were other flying creatures.


We got our closest encounters with the monkeys ...
... and the sloths! 
After the tour we stayed in the park on one of the beaches...Playa Manuel Antonio is calmer but fills up more quickly.  Playa Espadilla Sur has bigger waves and a little bit of undertow but has less people so we opted for Espadilla Sur.  If you go and intend to go to the beach afterward, you MUST bring beach stuff with you.  They no longer allowed you to exit the park and re-enter later, as we were told by the travel agency who booked us.
Playa Manuel Antonio

The crashing waves of Playa Espadilla Sur

Playa Espadilla Sur

As you can see jungle meets beach!

We were told to watch our belongings because monkeys are known to come out from the jungle and take backpacks and other items.  As you can see, just because the beach was the end of the tour didn't mean there were no more animals to be seen.
This guy spent the afternoon with us on the beach!
If you do beach it in Costa Rica, slather on the sun screen or you will get burnt like we did!  Being close to the equator, the sun is very strong and there's that breeze off the ocean that cools your skin just enough to make you forget!!