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Costa Rica

Curious what backpackers do in Costa Rica? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
  • We arrived safely in Playa Hermosa on the Pacific shore of Costa Rica the night before last, after a long (21 hour) but smooth journey. Staying in a little villa with great swimming pool (which Solana doesn't want to get out of!), just a few minutes walk from the beach. We've seen many colourful birds, that we're all enjoying trying to identify. We've also seen some large iguanas, butterflies, a stripy squirrel and some monkeys - great to have so much wildlife on our doorstep. Solana also loved the millipede we found in our villa when we returned from (a delicious seafood) dinner last night - until one of us accidentally stepped on it and she was heartbroken... All in all (millipede aside!), a lovely place to recover from our jet lag and start our adventure.Read more

  • Today started well but turned out not to be the finest of our trip... We went for an early morning walk and saw lots of birds, including at least 9 new species, bringing our bird species total so far to 48. The highlights included toucans, red-lored parrots (a very busy pair - look closely at the photo!), a hawk and, amazingly, a scarlet macaw - very impressive and all worth getting up early for. We then drove to Alajuela, Costa Rica's 2nd city, right next to San Jose airport. I went to at least 6 hotels looking for rooms but found that they were all either full or only had rooms that I wouldn't want my daughter and mother-in-law to have to sleep in (even though they would have been significantly under-budget)! Consequently, we drove back towards the airport for a more reliable source of accommodation. Attracted by the name, we managed to get a room in Hotel Mango, with all 4 of us sleeping in one room. It was already starting to get dark by the time we checked-in but, as the hotel unexpectedly had an outdoor pool, we jumped straight in - it was bloody freezing! On the plus side, the hotel has the added bonus of regular flight departures immediately overhead, to add to the tranquillity... To top the day off, the only places to eat nearby were a fast food chicken joint or an American diner; with reluctance we ventured into the latter and ate an overpriced, too large and unnecessarily sweet meal. Bring back the rice and beans!!! Ah well, the hotel WiFi is free and fast, so at least I can share the experience with you all. Hasta manyana (if we have WiFi at the next lodge).Read more

  • We enjoyed our couple of days in Playa Hermosa, supposedly recovering from our jet lag. We're all still waking pretty early but that is actually turning out to be an advantage, as early morning is a nice time to go out wandering/wildlife spotting before it gets too hot. Temperatures here have been in the early 30s. Solana made a little friend who was in the villa next door to us, a 4-year-old Costa Rican girl called Fatima - they could only understand a bit of what each other was saying but still managed to forge a little friendship. It also made me realise that, although I speak some Spanish, it is not even at the level of a 4-year-old!Read more

  • We're now in the Monteverde area for a few days. Spent the day today in the Monteverde Cloud Forest reserve, walking the trails, enjoying the views and spotting wildlife (which is actually more difficult than you might expect in the thick forest!). We saw coatis (a bit like racoons), a pygmy squirrel (very cute but too quick for a photo), some giant millipedes, butterflies and lots of birds. We particularly enjoyed the hummingbirds - could have happily watched them all day. The highlight of the day was seeing the most famous (but often elusive) bird of the area, the resplendent quetzal (the green/blue & red bird in the photo) - it made our day.Read more

  • Yesterday we moved on from Monteverde to Uvita, on the Southern, Pacific, coast of Costa Rica. The journey took about 5 hours but we saw plenty along the way, including vultures and other birds of prey, palm plantations and some massive crocodiles - lots of them! Our accommodation here is nice enough - large room, outside cooking facilities and a small pool - but it is more isolated than we'd expected and quite difficult to get anywhere without a car. Our main reason for coming to this area was to go whale watching but we were informed when we arrived that there are actually no whales here at the moment, so we're a bit gutted about that.... We have ended up hiring a car for a few days, to at least enable us to see some of the surrounding area whilst we're here. Laura is driving and it's an "interesting" driving experience, with only the main roads being made up and most of the minor roads being more like bumpy dirt tracks - plus the idea of road signs does not seem to have caught on here very much at all! This afternoon we went to Cascadas Verde - some waterfalls with pools where you could swim - it was a bit of a treacherous walk down with Solana and she was reluctant to go - but once we got there she loved swimming in the river and didn't want to get out! Afterwards we went for a walk along the beach, which looked and felt very tropical. The temperature here is much higher than in Monteverde - temps in early 30s C.Read more

  • Today was our last day in Cahuita and our penultimate day in Costa Rica. We walked into the National Park again this morning. We saw white-faced capuchin monkeys - they come down lower in the trees than the howler monkeys, so they're easier to photograph; they also seem a bit more curious and cheekier! We saw a couple more sloths, including one very active (non-sloth- like!) one, and some racoons (including 2 baby ones up a tree). This time we spent more time on the beach - Solana loved dodging the waves and body surfing with Laura and we all enjoyed walking along in the surf. A heron came by at one point to join in - you'll see it in the photo! This evening our dinner plan didn't quite work out and we ended up having to put Solana to bed early (she was tired out) and having a "dinner" of microwave popcorn and beer! We're now doing some sorting of all of our stuff, ready for the onward journey - boring but necessary.

    There is lots still the same about Costa Rica as it was when we first visited nearly 12 years ago but some things have changed. The internet is an obvious change - and that has changed the way people travel (more people seem to book ahead at accommodation, rather than just turn up and look around - which means if you do the latter, it is harder to find somewhere - as we found to our peril in Alajuela!). There seem to be a wider range of people travelling here - last time we came it was mostly young Americans whereas now there are more Europeans, French Canadian, more older people and more families with children. There are a few more surfaced roads I think but still plenty of bumpy unsurfaced ones, and more people hire cars or travel in air-conditioned minibuses than by public bus than there were before (including us as it turns out!). The country seems more ecologically aware and into trying to protect the environment, animals and recycling than it was 12 years ago too. More people speak some English than we found before. The food is much the same (still rice and beans heavy!) but and more menus are bilingual (Spanish and English). The national currency is Colones but US dollars are far more widely accepted than they used to be - almost everywhere. But the most noticeable thing is how much more expensive everything is - it is not far off European prices and our nightly budget of US$20 from 12 years ago would barely buy us a pillowcase now!

    We have thoroughly enjoyed our visit here and would highly recommend visiting Costa Rica if you ever have the chance. The wildlife in particular is absolutely amazing - if you have even a passing interest in wildlife, add it to your "to visit" list. We have managed to spot and identify 10 species of mammals, 15 species of reptiles/amphibians and 71 species of birds, even though we were without a guide most of the time. Solana has now decided she'd like to be a wildlife guide when she grows up! It has some of the most accessible rainforest, cloud forest and volcanoes in the world. The beaches are good, the weather is warm and it still feels like a pretty safe country. It is more expensive than we'd expected (bargain on similar prices to mainland Spain I'd say) but that wouldn't matter as much for a 2-week holiday and the experiences we've had here have been amazing. Maybe we should have asked for commission from the Costa Rica tourist board to help make up our budget deficit?.....!
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  • We spent today exploring the trails of Curi-Cancha cloud forest reserve. It was fantastic - at least as good as the main Monteverde reserve, if not better. It is at a slightly lower elevation, so was a bit warmer and had some different birds/animals and more open spaces for wildlife spotting. We saw agouti - funny little animals, like big guinea pigs (see picture). We also saw many different birds, including a toucan, motmot (see photo - a really beautiful bird), and more hummingbirds. We found one spot along a trail with lots of birds and we were happily stood watching them, until Solana piped up "Look at all the ants" and when we looked down, our shoes and lower legs were covered in ants! Needless to say, much running and foot-stamping followed.... Solana walked well but needed a rest in the sling this afternoon, where she enjoyed a cosy nap! We're off out for dinner shortly, which will no doubt involve rice, beans, plantain (like fried banana) and some kind of meat or fish - simple but tasty and filling after all the walking.Read more

  • We left Hotel Mango and drove North through the mountains (on quite a hairy road that Laura, who is doing the driving, took surprisingly calmly!) to Volcan Poas National Park. Undeterred by the signs alerting us to possible danger around the volcano, and "keeping calm" as instructed by the same signs, we took a walk along the trail to see the Poas volcano crater. It was pretty impressive - a large crater with a milky coloured lake and we were also able to see a fumarole spewing out smoke at the edge of the volcano. Solana was a bit worried that it was going to "derupt" and didn't want to look at it much - I think maybe we went a bit overboard with the info about what volcanoes are/do! After steering Solana away from the overpriced products in the gift shop, we got back on the road. We saw an impressive waterfall and some great views of the countryside and hills along the way, then we stopped at a tiny roadside restaurant for lunch. It was basically a dining room with 3 tables outside someone’s house and, finally, provided us with a cheap meal. We drove on to the Sarapiqui rainforest area, where we are now staying for a few days at Chilamate Rainforest Ecolodge. I had chosen this place to stay whilst we were still at home, so the pressure was on me – but happily it lives up to expectations and is a lovely place to stay. We have 2 neighbouring rooms, with a massive outside area with seating & hammocks. There is a river running nearby that lulls you to sleep at night and brings more bird life. We went for a walk by the river once we’d got settled and we saw more birds, including a large flock of egrets, and a couple of baby caiman (like crocodiles). Back at the lodge we relaxed with a beer and mani picante (delicious spicy peanuts), watching and listening to the jungle as darkness fell. Happily, we had a gecko on our ceiling to help eat the less welcome mosquitos...Read more

  • A bit of a shaky start to the day as Laura was ill in the night with D+V. The first illness of our trip, although I'm sure it won't be our last.... We went on a guided walk and saw green and brown basilisk lizards (very beautiful, especially the green one), monkeys, some large spiders (including the "golden orb", with one of the strongest webs of any spider - see photo) and more lizards. We also saw a 3-toed sloth - she was high up in the tree canopy and difficult to see/photograph (hence the not so great picture!) but worth seeing, after 2 weeks of waiting to see a sloth. Oh, and plenty of ants - many different types and sizes, including the "bullet ant", around an inch long and apparently very painful when it bites. Some of the ants (luckily not bullet ants) decided to explore my trouser leg and they bit me several times, to the point that I had to remove and shake my trousers before replacing them! It brought a whole new meaning to the phrase "ants in your pants"... In the afternoon we explored the forest more, found a cocoa tree and also had a paddle in the Sarapiqui river. We enjoyed the buffet dinners in the lodge - a bit more variety made a welcome change to the ubiquitous beans & rice. In the evening we enjoyed a beer in the hammock again, watching the fireflies come out for the night.Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

Republic of Costa Rica, Costa Rica, ኮስታ ሪካ, コスタリカ, 코스타리카, କୋଷ୍ଟା ରିକା, คอสตาริกา, ຄອສຕາລິກາ, កូស្តារីកា, Còsta Rica, Cósta Ríce, Cốt-xta Ri-ca, i-Costa Rica, Khosta Rikha, Kosita Lika, Kositarika, Kosita Rika, Kɔsitarika, Kosta Riika, Kostarika, Kosta Rika, Kɔsta Rika, Kostaríka, Kôsta Rîka, Kosta Rikà, Kosta Rikaa, Kosta Rika nutome, Kostariko, Kostaryka, Kwasta Rika, Orílẹ́ède Kuusita Ríkà, República de Costa Rica, كوستاريكا, کاستاریکا, کۆستاریکا, کوسٹا ریکا, קוסטה ריקה, Κόστα Ρίκα, Костарика, Коста Рика, Коста-Рика, Коста-Рыка, ཀོ་ས྄ཊ་རི་ཀ།, Կոստա-Ռիկա, კოსტა-რიკა, कोष्टारिका, कोस्टारिका, कोस्टारीका, કોસ્ટા રિકા, కోస్టారికా, ಕೊಸ್ಟಾ ರಿಕಾ, கோஸ்டாரிகா, കോസ്റ്ററിക്ക, কোস্টারিকা, ကော့စ်တာရီကာ, 哥斯达黎加