We started our time in Costa Rica with a week at the coast at Playa del Coco. We had organised an apartment there for the week as it was about time that we potty-trained our youngest – he has just turned three. It also gave us a chance to get some good sleep, wash all our stuff and have a look at our travel plans. The apartment was excellent and the communal swimming pool well used by our kids. Whilst there, we had a day trip to Palo Verde National Park and stopped off at a waterfall on our way.
Playa del Coco was ok, not spectacular but it was nice enough. After trying to see how we could navigate the buses in Costa Rica to see some of the numerous national parks, we realised that hiring a car would make our life a lot easier. It is expensive but because of a lack of direct buses to the places we wanted to go, it would have been just as expensive to use public transport.
First port of call was Monteverde, one of the most famous and well-visited natural reserves in Costa Rica. It was expensive to get in ($17 per person) and slightly disappointing. It was nice enough and we did have some great views but we didn’t spot much wildlife – which could just be bad luck – and the weather wasn’t cooperating. We did see hummingbirds, numerous other birds, bugs and a porcupine.
Next day, we travelled to National Park Volcano Arenal. We couldn’t see anything when we arrived as it was chucking it down. You know, one of those tropical rainstorms that soaks you to the bone in about 5 seconds flat. We chose a nice but pricey hostel with a swimming pool as it was Bella’s 8th birthday the next day and we wanted to be somewhere where she would enjoy herself. One of the hotel staff gave us some good tips on where to go the next day and told us to skip the main national park and go to another, smaller one as it was cheaper and better for children. That turned out to be great advice as we had great visibility there and spotted some really good wildlife. It was brimming with hummingbirds, butterflies and other birds. We also spotted a Caoti. Unfortunately we didn’t spot a sloth, we really wanted to
On our way to Alajuela we stopped off at a great waterpark in San Ramon. Unfortunately for us, the weather didn’t cooperate and we swam for about 10 minutes before the heavens opened and heavy thunder started and had to abandon the swimming pool. Alajuela itself was a nice city and we enjoyed our evening there. The next morning we went to Natural Park Volcano Poas, which turned out to be excellent. Nice walking, great views and very interesting to see a volcano crater. Although it smelt a bit!
The next few days we are planning to visit Heredia and San Jose before we decide how much more we see of Costa Rica before travelling to Panama. We fly out of Panama to Ecuador on the 22nd of July.