I will be on a blogging hiatus from January 9 to January 25, 2016, as I will be off on a tour to Costa Rica.
This post details our second week’s travel itinerary sponsored by Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT).
The OAT pamphlet is the resource for most of my commentary, detailing our scheduled activities:
Plans for the remaining 9 days
Early in the morning of the 8th day, we are being escorted to Guanacaste Province in the northwestern part of country, a large section has been set aside for preservation and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dominated by the Guanacaste mountain range, this region has a distinctive dry tropical climate. It is famous for its thermal pools, which we fully intend to enjoy during our stay.
We will be residing at a lodge situated in the foothills of Rincon de la Vieja Volcano. After unpacking in our rooms, we will venture out to explore the local trails until we find a place where we can spot peccaries, armadillos, motmots, and capuchin and howler monkeys, as well as white-fronted Amazon parrots, spectacled owls, and more than 270 other avian species.
After we return from our trek, we will be taking more cooking classes to learn how to prepare “bocas,” or small dishes.
On day 9, we are heading out to a destination where we can indulge ourselves in the local thermal baths. Subterranean thermal currents produce warm mineral mud pots, hot and warm pools, and even natural saunas. We can choose to travel there on horseback or by riding in the back of a tractor.
We will be pampered by experiencing a therapeutic mud regimen, starting with a pore- opening sauna near a fumarola, a thermal vent in the Earth’s crust. Next, we’ll enjoy a “facial” —Costa Rican style—by covering our faces with warm, mineral- rich mud transported here from bubbling pools deep within the mountain. Finally, when the mud hardens, we’ll rinse it off and dip into a warm, relaxing thermal pool to wash the rest of our tensions away. I can just imagine the hilarious picture of looking at my fellow travelers as they are caked in soothing gray mud. I’ll try to take a photo.
Later in the day, there will be those zip lining over the rain forest. This event is described as a chance to witness stunning panoramic views of the rain forest below as we whiz from tree to tree. Since I would miss the scenery with my eyes closed while screaming away, I will be spending the rest of the day at a leisurely pace.
On day 10, we will be driven to the Pacific Coast to arrive at Jaco–a beach town renowned for its long stretch gray sandy beaches, fantastic surf, tropical rain forests and diverse wildlife.
On day 11, we’ll spend our morning in Manuel Antonio National Park, one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world. One of the smallest—and also most popular—of the Costa Rica’s national parks, this lush reserve encompasses four beaches, island bird sanctuaries, coral reefs, and a luxuriant rain forest. Manuel Antonio is also one of only two habitats for the endangered squirrel monkey. If we are lucky, we might be able to see some ot these monkeys as well as two and three toed sloths, capuchin monkeys, and giant iguanas. In the afternoon, we’ll spend some time relaxing.
On day twelve, we will venture out to Agujas Beach, a beautiful protected cove. Here, after a safety briefing, we’ll embark on an outrigger canoe to get a feel for pre-Columbian Costa Rica as we paddle along the ocean, passing steep cliffs and sandy beaches. The plan is for us to disembark at Limoncito Beach, so we can spend some leisure time in a secluded beach.
In the afternoon, we are scheduled to visit Coope Tarcoles, a fishermen’s cooperative founded in 1986 with the goal of promoting environmental and social responsibility. We’ll be meeting members of the cooperative to learn more about sustainable fishing.
On day 13, we will be boarding a small boat to drift down Rio Tarcoles, a partially tidal estuary that forms a border of the park, and Costa Rica’s largest habitat for crocodiles. The mangrove forest is also home for many other creatures. Scarlet macaws can sometimes be seen flying overhead in pairs as well as, egrets, osprey, frigate birds, roseate spoonbills and white ibis.
We will be traveling to Santa Ana for a leisurely evening when we will say adios to our Trip Leader and travel companions over a farewell dinner.
On day 14, some of us will be returning home while others will be continuing onward to Tortuguero National Park. First thing in the morning, I and my friend along with 7 others will transfer overland to Tortuguero.
Tortuguero is home to 111 species of reptiles, 60 species of mammals, 309 species of birds, and 57 species of amphibians— including the endangered Green Turtle, for which it is the Western Hemisphere’s most important nesting site.
Once we arrive on the Caribbean coast, we’ll board a boat for a cruise to Tortuguero. En route, we will stop at a village, Tortuguero town which has no roads, no sidewalks and no cars. After we reach our lodge, we’ll enjoy a brief orientation walk.
On day 15, during the day, we will be transported by boat through both natural and man-made canals which is the primary way to reconnoiter the wonders in this region.
Later in the day, we’ll stroll along the lodge’s trail to observe diverse flora and fauna while glimpsing the sloths, monkeys, green macaws, and toucans.
On day 16, we will be taking a leisurely canal boat ride to Cano Blanco. At some point, we’ll begin our overland transfer to San Jose, stopping en route to visit a banana plantation. Once we reach San Jose, we will be preparing for our trip to return home back to Florida.