Costa Rica (Dec 15 - 21, 2017)

Photo of Braulio Carrillo National Park, Carr. San Jose Limon, Heredia Province, Costa Rica by Jayashree Nagaraj

Costa Rica, a country in central America has tropical climate year round. It is well known for coffee plantations and tropical fruits like banana and pineapple. It is home to a rich variety of flora and fauna and contains 5% of the world's biodiversity. It is the only country today without a standing army. It borders the carribean sea to the east and pacific ocean to the west. It is a beautiful country with many national parks and volcanoes, some of which are still active. The most commonly eaten breakfast is gallo pinto(black beans and rice). The most common phrase used by costa Ricans(Ticos) is 'pura vida' meaning 'pure life'.

Dec 15th - We flew into San jose airport and took a cab to Alajuela where our hotel was situated. It was a basic accomodation but clean and neat.

Dec 16th - We had breakfast at the hotel and took a cab to Fiesta casino which was the pick up point for our Arenal volcano and Tabacon hot springs tour. We were the last to board, there were about 13 people on the tour. Our first stop was a quaint little town Sarchi known for its intricate arts and crafts. It is famous for its colorfully painted oxcarts. We visited a church and saw the world's largest colorfully painted oxcart on display in front of the church.

Photo of Alajuela Province, Sarchi, Costa Rica by Jayashree Nagaraj

We also visited a art and craft shop where we were offered some yummy, juicy pineapples, papaya and the famous costa rican coffee. We then drove to La Fortuna which is situated at the base of Arenal. This volcano is the youngest and most active volcano in Costa Rica. We stopped for lunch at Rancho Perla restaurant.

The food was very good and we also got a glimpse of a toucan and saw a crocodile and many other birds. Post lunch we took a small hike up to the arenal volcano viewpoint. It was cloudy and drizzling so we could not get a very clear view but it was nice nonetheless. 

Photo of Arenal Volcano, Alajuela Province, San Carlos, Costa Rica by Jayashree Nagaraj

Next up was Tabacon hot springs at Tabacon resort, Arenal's largest private rainforest reserve. It is flanked by the volcano at one end and Arenal Volcano National Park on the other end. Water heated underground by Arenal volcano's magma flows throughout the resort in the form of waterfalls and warm pools of varying temperatures. It is by far one of the most beautiful resorts. We were spoilt for choices at the huge dinner buffet spread at the resort restaurant.

Photo of Tabacon Hot Springs, Alajuela Province, La Fortuna, Costa Rica by Jayashree Nagaraj

Dec 17th - tortuguero national park tour - We were first to board the bus and our tour guide was very informative, he did a very good job of spotting and pointing out wildlife on the tour. We left pretty early in the morning so stopped for breakfast of gallo pinto. At this restaurant the tour guide spotted and showed us the tiny red poisonous frog in the garden. We then drove on through banana and pineapple plantations toward La Pavona. Companies like chiquita and dole have plantations here mainly to export to US and other countries. On the way we spotted a couple of sloth and howler monkeys.

It was cool to watch the sloth hanging from a roadside fence/electric wire. From La Pavona we had to take a one hour boat ride to tortuguero. The boat ride was good and we spotted a crocodile, caiman, iguana and some birds. On disembarking at tortuguero our tour guide treated us to pipa fria(tender coconut water). It was cool, sweet and very refreshing in the heat. In costa rica 2 kinds of coconuts are grown, the regular sized coconuts for cooking and smaller pipa fria for drinking. We went to a beach on the atlantic ocean, walked around for a while and took a short 5 minute boat ride to evergreen restaurant for lunch. This property too is very well maintained and beautiful. We walked on some of the trails on the property. After a buffet lunch we took the boat back and then boarded the bus.

Photo of Tortuguero, Limón Province, Costa Rica by Jayashree Nagaraj

Dec 18th - downtown San jose, the capital of Costa Rica. I took a walking tour which started from national theatre building. It was a very entertaining and informative tour lasting almost 3 hours. We got to know a good piece of Costa Rican history and also visited many places of interest which otherwise we would not have known about. Downtown San Jose especially central avenue and its surroundings was very crowded. There was hardly any space to walk. All the restaurants were jam packed with long lines to order food. After the tour since it was lunch time I decided to go to the central mercado and check out the sodas (Costa Rican snack bars). They were crowded too but I could get a bowl of fruit. I explored the central market and the artisans market before heading to the hotel (Hyatt place). On the way back I boarded the wrong local bus and got lost. I had to again take a bus going towards San Jose, got off mid way and took a cab back to the hotel.

Photo of National Theatre, Upper Ground, London, UK by Jayashree Nagaraj

Dec 19th - Museum day - I visited the national museum and butterfly park and the Jade museum. The museums were good. I had noted the right bus to board to reach Hyatt place and did not get lost.

Dec 20th - canopy tour and boat ride in braulio carillo national park. The boat ride was okay. We spotted a crocodile and some birds. The canopy tour was awesome.

We rode a tram above and through the forest. The views of the forest from the top was great although we did not get to see any wildlife. We had lunch at a restaurant where they had a bird feeder. It was feeding time and we got to see a toucan, black birds and a lot of other birds.

Dec 21st - Time to fly back home. Since Rajendra was working for a few hours and it was a long way to the airport I went to the GREIF plant in Costa Rica along with him. He organised a plant tour. It was cool to see the robots perform various processes to get the final product ready. The plant manufactures metallic storage drums. Metal sheets are folded into drums, heat welded, painted and dried to get the final product, all done by robots with minimal human interference.

Costa Rica is truely Pura Vida!!