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Showing posts from May, 2019

Marino Ballena National Park

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Uvita is a small village with 2 incredibly long and incredibly wide beaches (Playa Hermosa and Playa Uvita) separated by a peninsula looking like whale's tail, but it's a gatekeeper to Marino Ballena National Park. Whale's tale is there for a good reason: this is the place where you can go for a whale and dolphin watching tour.
We did this one with our friends: Whale & Dolphin Tour (Combination Tour). It starts at 8:30 and by noon you are back, $90 per person feels a bit overpriced but they did show us some dolphins, a whale (shared with other boat), jumping tunas, pelicans and even a dead turtle. It was not easy - the boat was screwing back and forth all over the Bahia Ballena for 2 hours looking for wildlife, and just to compensate for all that burned fuel the price doesn't seem unreasonable.
The last part of the tour was amazing - all those rocks with caves you cannot see from the land, you have to be on a boat.
The combination tour also announces snorkeling but d…

Naujaka Waterfalls

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If you drive from Quepos (Puntarenas province) further to the South, there is a left turn right before River Baru. It's a nice route 243. You drive up that road for about 10 km and you'll see the sign Naujaca Waterfalls on the right. Here you pay $8 per person and get a map. The actual (unpaved) road to the waterfalls is a little bit more ahead and goes down to the river. You drive until you see a parking lot, cannot miss it, supposed to park the car here and then hike to the waterfalls. 

We figured out that the road actually goes further through the bridge, and as we had a very compact and maneuverable 4X4, decided to try it. It becomes a dirty trail very fast, but we managed to drive for about 1 km more and finally abandoned the car in shades when big boulders made driving completely impossible.

You can do the same, or you can leave the car on the parking lot and hike that extra kilometer, but anyway close the doors, hide the GPS, don't leave your valuables in the car…

Rainmaker

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Half hour drive from Quepos, half on highway, half on a gravel paved road, it's a nice private place where you still can enjoy a real rain forest and see how the jungles actually look like. If you come early, you can swim naked in a waterfall. It's lifetime experience and best spent $20. During many years of going to Costa Rica for vacation, we tried swimming in many waterfalls (we try to find a new one every time), but Rainmaker's is the best.
Don't come too early though, 8-8:30AM is fine. You need about 2 hours to walk through the entire park, and at the end, once you return to the entrance, you can enjoy a nice typical Costa Rican breakfast, included in the admission fee. After hiking all those trails, air bridges and waterfalls this is exactly what you'll need!

Manuel Antonio National Park

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Several years ago I would suggest to go to the park early in the morning when all wildlife just wakes up and starts looking for breakfast. In 2007, with, or even without a guide, you could easily spot a sloth, at least three species of monkeys, plenty of birds. The guided tour was about $20 and it definitely was worth it. 
Recently the park had a major renovation - now there are nice Broadway looking trails with railings, signs and directions. And guess what? Everything comes with a price: when we've been there in March 2018, we did not see even a white faced capuchin which before always were there in big funny companies. Maybe it was bad luck this time but it's not a news that civilization pushes out the wild life, and now all those capuchins seem to be scared out of the park and you can find a lot of them on the nearby beaches like Playa Espadilla or Playa Playitas. So if you want to see monkeys no need to pay $51 per person for an aggressively promoted guided tour, nowadays …

El Avion

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It's a plane converted into a bar and restaurant built around it. Nice dinner at the gorgeous sunset is very relaxing and memorable end of a long day. We celebrated a couple of birthdays in El Avion and have been there once with friends, another time with a daughter and her husband, couple of times just the two of us, - never had to book. If you come around 4:30-5, you can get a good table, but don't eat too fast or you'll be done before the show! There are other restaurants in Manuel Antonio and Quepos with a sunset view, but El Avion probably has the best. Ceasar, steaks, fried calamari, seafood chowder, sangria, - all good.  

The menu is here.

Doka Estate Coffee Tour

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If you are interested, this is a good blog about Doka Estate Coffee Tour, describing all the steps and stations: https://mytanfeet.com/activities/doka-estate-coffee-tour-costa-rica/. I don't remember much about steps, but from myself may add: wear long pants because there are a lot of fleas on the plantation, those of us who wore shorts were bitten all below the knees. Not a big deal, just itchy.

We took this tour on our way from the South (Quepos and Marino Ballena) to the Arenal area. If you plan to do the same, start as early as possible (6AM or so) because the scenic drive is long and you need extra couple of hours for the coffee tour.

Monteverde

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First time in Monteverde we've been in 2007. We did not have a GPS and used a printed PDF map to find the road. It was our first time in Costa Rica and we bought all inclusive stay in Fiesta hotel in Puntarenas, which was not that expensive back then. We rented a car in the hotel, and the trip to Monteverde, with all stops, looking in the map and taking pictures took a few hours.

Hiking in the cloud forest took most of the day, then Butterfly Garden, sky walk bridges and some other places, and finally on the way back we caught a gorgeous sunset in the mountains. 5 minutes later - lights off. Trip back to the hotel in complete darkness, on a very questionable road paved with boulders, through mountain villages one after another with almost no road signs, was a real adventure, but the memories we made back then still worth it.
Nowadays it's much easier, and the roads are better, there are even signs on those roads, and pretty much every tiny trail which half foot wi…

Sunset over the Pacific in Jaco

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If you are lucky and come to the Jaco coast not too late you'll be able to stop at one of the vista points before or after Jaco and catch a breath taking view of the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.



In 2007 when we have been in the area first time, simply driving around and exploring, Jaco was our turn around point. I remember we stopped at this (or another close to this) lookout and saw a few scarlet macaws flying across the road. The birds are gorgeous. Now macaws are rare in Jaco and if you want to see them in their natural habitat, go much further to the South. Osa Peninsula, Puerto Jimenez and Corcovado National Park is still their domain, but things change very quickly.

If you have stayed overnight in San Jose and are driving next morning, lookouts in Jaco still worth to stop by.

Crocodile Bridge in Tarcoles

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You cannot miss it, - it's about 1 hour drive from the airport. You drive on Costanera Sur watching for "Tarcoles" sign, and once you see the bridge with people walking on both sides and looking down at the river, that is it. Park the car before the bridge, or right after it. Before the bridge there are restaurants and souvenir shops, and you can park for free, but don't waste too much daylight - it's still a long drive.


Tip: don't swim in Tarcoles river after sunset.

Wild Faces of Costa Rica

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These are our pictures of Costa Rican wild life taken at different times in different places.