Welcome to the Jungle…

We started our visit to Costa Rica in the capital, San José (concrete jungle). Our airbnb is south of the city and has good views of both the CBD and volcanoes in the background from the fifth floor. Unfortunately, Kadin caught a bit of a head cold (probably from the plane, airport, or change of climate). But we have 3 nights booked and plenty of time to recuperate. Our apartment building has 2 swimming pools; one with 2 hot tubs on the 21st floor (roof-top) – it was pretty windy up there though! We spent most of our time relaxing but venture into the CBD on the last day. It’s pretty hectic with lots of people trying to sell you something. We didn’t buy anything but just people watched (many were watching us too – apparently, we must have been rather interesting to them). Some of the stares were pretty uncomfortable – but we didn’t take any valuables with us (including jewellery) and at least ‘no’ is the same in English as Spanish, so used that when people tried to give us items. That was one of the popular tricks; people holding balloons would put them right in front of a child’s face and then if they grabbed hold of it, they would start arguing with the parent to purchase it. Overall, we don’t rate San Jose highly, but you don’t really go to Costa Rica to visit the city…

On Wednesday, we spent over six hours travelling by mini-bus from San José to Manzanillo on the Caribbean Coast (East, Costa Rica). The shuttle service was delayed due to bad traffic in San José. The roads were extremely windy and narrow. We then were stopped for about 30 minutes (due to an accident, we think). When we finally reached our destination it was 2pm and we needed lunch. Our airbnb host (jungle trek guide), Peter, met us near our drop off point, stored our bags in the boot of his car and took as to a local place for lunch. The food was pretty plain but we needed to eat before commencing our trek into the jungle for our nights accommodation. Peter drove us to the entrance of the jungle, sorted us out with a pair of gumboots each and a walking stick. We then started our 45 minute jungle trek. He stopped regularly to show us different frogs, spiders, lizards, insects, plants and animal tracks. It was very muddy and humid but plenty of wild life to spot along the way…

We finally made it to our accommodation… Peter’s magnificent treehouse suspended 25m up in the tree. He explained to us how he was an engineer and an avid rock climber. There weren’t many rocks around to climb so he started to climb trees instead. He wants to show people that you can build around trees without damaging them. His tree house contains no nails – he could remove it and the tree would continue to grow without any sign of the hut ever being there. He also explained that from 25m height people can easily observe most of the wildlife. Once we were rested from our trek, he harnessed us up and we proceeded our ascent. It was actually quite hard work, but the views were incredible. You could see right out over the rainforest to the ocean. Peter left us to take a shower and get settled while he fetched our dinner from town. When he returned later, we pulled dinner up with our climbing rope, coiled it all up and he left us to experience our night by ourselves in the treetops. We saw a few toucans playing around, were mesmerised by the fireflies dancing as darkness came and were kept awake by the howler monkeys. The following morning, Peter returned, we threw him the rope and he ascended with our breakfast, which he prepared for us in the treehouse. After some more stories and spotting wildlife we geared up for the descent (slightly more scarier than going up – 25m suddenly looks rather high when looking straight down and jumping through the floor!). Peter put me at ease, and we both really enjoyed gliding down the rope to the forest floor…

On the way back, we were treated to the slightly longer trek and were once again filled with information about the Costa Rican flora and fauna. Kadin quickly volunteered to have the jungle creatures crawling on his body when possible. He especially loved it when Peter gave him a poisonous dart frog… but it jumped away before I could get a photo. Overall, this was the most amazing experience and if anyone (who enjoys the outdoors) is intending to visit Costa Rica, you should look into Peter’s place: https://www.natureobservatorio.com/

After we had checked into our next airbnb, a cute cabin (also in a jungle setting), we walk into the nearby seaside town of Cocles for lunch. We find a cute little restaurant and share a pizza. We spend the afternoon walking along the beach and roadside. Along the way we see sloths in the trees and hummingbirds (but they’re super fast and hard to capture on camera – we’re working on it though)…

 

The following morning, we headed down to the animal sanctuary to get up and close to some of the jungle animals. It’s pretty packed but it gave a good overview of the Costa Rican animals…

After 2 hours of animal observing we continued walking south. Eventually we found a beach access route, that Peter pointed out to us earlier. This takes us to a beautiful and somewhat secluded beach. We continued strolling along the coast for about 4kms, spotting monkeys in the trees along the way, until we reach the popular beach of Playa Punta Uva. Here we had lunch at a beach bar and enjoyed a swim in the Caribbean Sea…

Next, we hired a kayak each so we could go up the river to spot more jungle animals. We spotted three sloths high up in the trees right near the start. Further up we saw turtles and a cool bird of prey. The river was super calm and the jungle on either side made for a stunning and peaceful 1.5hour paddle…

The next morning, Saturday, starts off real slow (and continues that pace). The rain is pouring down around our cabin. It breaks just before lunch, so we walk into town to have lunch. During lunch another downpour surrounds us. When it eases, we continue further up the road to a chocolate shop. We order chocolate drinks and desserts and the rain pours down again. After we are all chocolated-out and the rain eases again we head back to our cabin and relax, spotting toucans from our balcony. Kadin makes crepes for dinner and we get ready to leave for northern Costa Rica.

Have fun at work!

Gemma

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