Hi loves ♡ I would like to tell you about my trip to Costa Rica & my short trip to Nicaragua. I can honestly say, that I’ve left my heart in this beautiful country & that I will return more than one time.
Why Costa Rica?
I informed myself a lot about Costa Rica in the last years and I was sure, that I wanted to go there one day, because the wildlife was supposed to be unbelievably beautiful. Costa Rica is often called “paradise on earth“ or “Jurassic Parc“ and I can totally agree with that. Normally the prices for a vacay in CR are quite high and I was unsure about backpacking there, because my spanish is not the best and the so called “Ticos“ are not really good in speaking english either, but gladly I’ve spent some time on a website called holidaycheck.de to look for all kinds of good travel deals and I’ve found a 3-week all inclusive trip to the hotel “Occidental Allegro Papagayo“ for a little bit less than 1700€ and on top of that, I had a 100€ voucher for this website, so this whole trip was really really cheap in the end.The most important things for me were to go rainforest trekking, visiting the palo verde national park to see wild crocodiles, to go to Nicaragua for a day and to see a lot of wild animals.
It took me about 28 hours, till I finally got to the hotel. My flight with Condor had a 4 hour stop in the Dominican Republic (in the middle of the night – all shops were closed) and took me about 17 hours all in all. I arrived in San Jose (the capital of Costa Rica) at 7am and the transfer was supposed to pick me up at 9:30am.. so I had some breakfast first and enjoyed my first impressions of Costa Rica.
My hotel was in the area of Guanacaste, in the north / close to the border to Nicaragua. The temperatures were about 32-38 degrees celsius at daytime and the humidity was really high, but even on the 4 hour drive to get there, I saw so many beautiful landscapes and animals (monitors, iguanas and a big macaw)
When I booked my trip, I researched a lot on websites like tripadvisor, because my hotel didn’t have any ratings on holidaycheck. I was glad, that I’ve found lots and lots of ratings from travelers from all over the world on tripadvisor and so I was able to make up my mind about this hotel. The people wrote, that the hotel seems to be a little bit old, but the nature around was breathtaking. I found out that the hotel was going to be renovated in the next month (aha! that’s why I got such a good price!).
When I arrived at the hotel lobby, I directly saw wild iguanas eating plants in front of it – sooo cool ! The rooms are located on a really steep hill & the reception is located on the highest point of that hill, sadly it was the only good working wifi hotspot. My room was located on the ground floor, almost directly at the pool, the ocean and the restaurants. The way up to the lobby (& wifi hotspot) was really really exhausting and that’s why I decided to only go there once a day 😀 there is wifi at the pool, too – but it didn’t work most of the time.
My room really was a little bit old, but it was clean and I was happy with it. The pool area was huge and really really beautiful and the staff really friendly. The food was ok, but most dishes were with meat and I had to improvise sometimes.
After I brought my stuff to my room & had a shower, I went to explore the hotel area. On my way around the pool I was directly greeted by a wild coatie, who was looking for some food leftovers… Many people were afraid of him and told me not to get to close, because he would bite – he actually liked me a lot and he even cuddled with me, everytime he saw me. When I arrived at the beach, I wanted to lay down on one of the beach beds first to relax a little bit, when all of a sudden the capuchin monkeys climbed down from the trees and started running all over the beach. Some of the hotel guests had saved some fruits from the buffet, because the monkeys came down to play on the same time every day! I only had a cup of water with me and the monkeys came up to me and drank out of my cup – it was sooo adorable! After these two really amazing first impressions of Costa Rica, I took my backpack to go on a walk along the long beach (there were no other hotels on this beach).
The sand is black and gets really really hot – I walked through the water most of the time and I even saw some stingrays and puffer fishes swimming close to the shore… I forgot to think about the high tide and all of a sudden the beach was almost gone and I was to far away from my hotel to walk trough the water, carrying my backpack and my Canon and iPhone…I found a path into the dry forest somewhere and decided to take this way back to the hotel (I didn’t really know if it would lead me there), even though there was a “no trespassing“ sign. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to walk an unknown path. There were mango trees everywhere and for the first time in my life I heard howler monkeys (terrifying sound). You have to be careful if you walk through the dry forest wearing flip-flops ,because there are a lot of high poisonous snakes in Costa Rica, such as the terciopelo pit viper and the bushmaster and you can’t really see them through the leaves on the ground. The howler monkeys can get really mean as well. They are vegetarians, but if they see you as a threat, they can get quite aggressive…Pumas do also live in these dry parts of Costa Rica and you wouldn’t want to meet them alone in the wild. You can call me flippantly, but I do really know a lot about animals, especially reptiles (my passion) and I know exactly how they look like, where they hide and I watch every step I take.
Ok so after walking for a long time, I somehow got back to the hotel and I went back to the beach again, to turn to the other side I didn’t walk up to before. The beach was really long all in all, but if you walked to the right side, it ended after 200m. I looked at every tree I saw and the very last one on the beach had over 5 (!!!) green vine snakes in it. I was so happy, I couldn’t believe it! I knew, that this snake was not dangerous for humans, so I catched one of the vine snakes and let her crawl on me… btw you have to be careful in CR – not only because of poisonous animals, but also because of deadly plants: There was a certain tree species, like 20 of those trees around the hotel and beach, with fruits in them, that looked like green apples. If you only scratch yourself on the tree, you can die! The manchineel tree is one of the most poisonous plants in america, and its poison was used by indians and other folks to kill their enemies. Touching it and putting your finger into your mouth afterwards can kill you!
Ok so after my long walk, the sun started to go down and I headed over to dinner to grab something to eat. When I was finished, I walked back to the beach with a cocktail in my hand and I wanted to review all the impressions of my first day, when suddenly 4 green eyes looked at me out of the dark..My heart stopped for a second, but then I recognized that it was only 2 raccoons eating a fresh mango.. after that I watched some bats catching fishes from the mangroves and finally went to bed.
(so sorry for this huge article, but my first day couldn’t have been any better and leaving out any part of it wouldn’t feel right to me)
Palo Verde Nationalpark
I went to Palo Verde Nationalpark on my first day trip, a nature reserve around a river, full of crocodiles and other animals. The trip was about 90€ including lunch and a pottery lesson (CR is expensive) and I booked it over my dear friend Antonio, who was selling tours at the beach (better than to book in your hotel). I saw lots and lots of crocodiles, iguanas, jesus christ lizards, tiny bats, colorful birds and monkeys.
Heliconias Rainforest – Trekking, Waterfalls & Poison Dart Frogs
The beautiful Heliconias Rainforest is located in the volcanic part of Costa Rica. It was a 3 hour drive with the tour bus to get there, but the view out of the car made the long drive really easy. The day trip costs around 120€, but theres a visit to Llanos del Cortez Waterfall included, a visit to a nature reserve for frogs, the entrance to the Las Pumas Rescue Center and lunch.
When we arrived at the Heliconias Jungle Lodge (starting point) we had to bathe ourselves in mosquitospray, because there’s a chance you can get bitten by mosquitos, that can cause you dengue fever. The view from the starting point was amazing – you were able to see the whole volcanic area. The temperature up there was a little bit fresh, so the perfect outfit to wear was my gymgear and a sweatshirt.
We walked through the rainforest for at least 90 minutes…the smell, the noise and the view – everything was beautiful! We didn’t see a lot of animals (maybe because the other tourists were really noisy) but it was still so worth it! After walking and trespassing a lot of hanging bridges, we arrived back at the Rainforest Lodge and had lunch.
The next stop was the Bijagua Ranas frog reserve. We were able to see a toucan bird and a sloth up high in a tree and the ground and the exotic plants were full of poison dart frogs in every color! There’s a small house with walls made out of nets in the middle of this big “garden“ where the frogs can get in to stay safe from predators.
We went to Llanos del Cortez Waterfall next. After a short drive and a short walk we arrived and I was really impressed, because it’s a huge waterfall ! So glad, that this short stop was a part of this day trip.
The last part of this day trip was the Las Pumas Rescue Center and I was really disappointed with it. The Rescue Center inhabits animals, mostly Pumas, Panthers, Jaguars an other cats, that wouldn’t have survived in the wild.. This might be true, because the Costa Ricans take animal rights and protection serious, but the enclosures for the animals were way to small.. All the animals seemed to be stressed or apathetic and I was glad to leave as fast as possible, because I really didn’t like this place.
Nicaragua – Masaya Vulkan, Apoyo Lagune, Nicaraguasee, Granada
This was the last trip I went on and I was really happy to get another stamp into my passport :). I got picked up at 4am in the night and the bus started its journey towards the boarder. You can see the differences between Nicaragua and Costa Rica at the boarder: Nica is a poor country and you have to watch your valuables at all times! A lot of people get robbed there… The first stop was the Mount Masaya Volcano. The bus went directly to the crater and I got out of it and had the chance to walk around a little bit and have a look at all the gas coming out of it – impressive ! I had to get back into the bus after about 15 mins, because it’s unhealthy to breath the air for too long.
The next stop was the cute city of Catarina, from which you have the perfect view on the Apoyo Lagoon. The Lagoon is huge and if you are not watching it from a city in the mountains, it looks like the ocean. After I had a look at the lagoon, I walked a little bit through the streets and enjoyed this citys beautiful colorful houses and plants. When I got back into the bus, we left to Mercado de Artesanias, where we had lunch. It’s a marketplace, where a lot of children are running around, acting like they want to give you a present and then walk after you until you give them money, which they can’t even keep.
Lake Nicaragua was the next stop of this trip and I loved it! All the tourists got into small boats of 8 people and then we drove across the lake for about an hour. There are a lot of small volcanic islands in this lake and rich people have build their villas or holiday houses on them. You can go swimming in Lake Nicaragua as well, but we were told that they sometimes find bullsharks in the water, because theres a connection to the ocean. One of the volcanic islands is a nature reserve for mistreated monkeys and we were able to feed a spider monkey some bananas from the boat.
The last part of the trip was Grenada, the third biggest city in Nicaragua. There were children begging for money everywhere and when I went to a shop to buy myself something cold to drink, the cashier told me to put my camera away, because some many people got robbed in the last few days… Even though this country is very poor and besides all the beauty, there’s a lot of sadness to see, too – I loved it!
Costa Rica is (to me) the most beautiful country I’ve ever been to. The nature is matchless and if you are a animal freak like me, this country is the place you HAVE TO GO ! I would love to go there every year, because I love it so much, but I told myself, that I want to rent a car next time and drive around the whole country, which is to expensive to do it by myself. I’d have loved to visit the cloud forest of Monteverde, the Arenal Volcano and many more spots, but I will keep it in mind for my next trip. All the wild animals around the hotel really made this vacation magical! If you ever go to Costa Rica: do it yourself, don’t stay in one place all of the time, if you have a travel partner – you can save the money on the expensive day trips and the long car drives and you can choose on how long you wanna stay in each place.
I hope you liked my travel report on Costa Rica (+ Nicaragua) and you decide to visit this amazing country at least once in your lifetime.
Costa Rica Video: Costa Rica 2015 by menatrvtlo