Costa Rica, Pura Vida !

rainette Costa Rica

voyage valise  voyage en couplemoyen budget
Travel made in march 2022
Duration : 16 days 

Welcome to Costa Rica !

Are you tired of everyday life? Do you have an intense rhythm of life between work, transport, household chores or children? I advise you to live to the rhythm of Pura Vida like the Costa Ricans! Pura Vida is a philosophy of life, the goal being to live each day with a smile and under a positive eye. I am transporting you today to MyOxyBubble Costa Rica to teach you how to live to the rhythm of pura vida while appreciating the simple things that surround you like the wonders of nature.
Costa Rica is a huge open-air zoo, framed by the Pacific Sea on one side and the Caribbean on the other! The animals roam free in an incredible lush jungle! They are not prisoners in a cage and exposed like beasts of fair. It is the terra-verde par excellence with an exceptional fauna and flora.
In Myoxybubble Costa Rica, you will discover emblematic animals such as the sloth, the toucan, the red-eyed tree frog, the monkeys, the puma, the coati, the tapir or the mythical and fabulous quetzal! Animal encounters will be unpredictable during your stay. Costa Ricans live off eco-tourism. For 30 years, they have been betting on reforestation. It’s a real challenge and it’s to their credit. Today, Costa Rica is a preserved paradise but also one of the lungs of the earth.

Are you ready to take a breath of fresh air and recharge the batteries with myoxybubble Costa Rica?

Sommaire

Our itinerary

You can click on all the photos in this article to view them in large format

Costa Rica, Pura Vida !

Day 1The Beginning of the Pura Vida

# 4×4 rental

When you arrive in San José, collect your suitcases and your 4×4! For a trip to Costa Rica, some will be satisfied with a city car, but for most travelers the 4×4 will be essential. A 4×4 is necessary, even more in case of heavy rain because some accesses can be very muddy and bumpy.

Attention, most agencies will offer you unaffordable rental prices around 2000€ for 17 days. Following multiple searches, we came across the Alamo site via BSP auto.
With Alamo, the rental price has dropped to 650€ for 17 days! We had in our possession a very modern and new Suzuki 4×4 with automatic transmission. No waiting at the airport with a direct and fast transfer of 8min guaranteed. When the vehicle is returned, they even take care of washing your car at no additional cost. Alamo is a very helpful, fast and unbeatable value for money rental agency in Costa Rica!  

# Where to stay in San José 

If you arrive at night like us, I can recommend the Alajuela rest chalet , located in a very quiet and secure urban street just 10 minutes from the airport.
They have two wooden chalets in the shape of a tepee. The bedding is comfortable and the chalet clean and cozy. You will have at your disposal a well-kept garden and common areas such as the toilets and the kitchen. You will be out of the tumult of San José! Perfect for a one night stopover!

chalet tipi Alajuela pres de San José chalet tipi Alajuela pres de San José chalet tipi Alajuela pres de San José

Day 2 : Poas Volcano and the Central Valley

Poas Volcano and the Central Valley

Important, if you want to visit the Poas volcano then do it imperatively before 10 am because then the clouds settle and the volcano. The site is no longer of interest if the volcano is in the fog. Its crater is 1320m in diameter and 300m deep. It is home to a mesmerizing milky blue lake.

Parc national du volcan Poas  Parc national du volcan Poas  Parc national du volcan Poas 

This blue makes me think of Kawa Putih in Java without the nauseating smell of sulphur. The intensity of blue varies according to sunshine and clouds. Before your visit, a small video projection takes place in a room. They explain the safety measures to be taken during your visit with the ranger (risk of gas emissions and presence of shelters in the event of volcanic projections).
Wearing  a safety helmet is mandatory. At first, we thought that wearing helmets was for our safety, but very quickly we understood that the color of the helmets allowed the ranger to distinguish between the different groups of tourists.

Parc national du volcan Poas 

Indeed, the visit of the Poas volcano is limited to 20 minutes only around the crater! This allows them to spot groups of tourists to let them know the end of their visit. I must admit that we stayed there for 50 minutes because on several occasions I took off my helmet for the photos and we were a little hidden by the shelters put in place.
The site is equipped with a light signal and an audible alarm according to the gas emission thresholds of the volcano.

Parc national du volcan Poas  Parc national du volcan Poas  Parc national du volcan Poas 

Otherwise, the screening of the film also traces the history of the Poas volcano, including the famous recent volcanic eruption of 2018. To date, the volcano is still somewhat active, which is why the park is not free to access. To get to the volcano watchtower, count a 20-minute walk. No hiking is possible around the crater because of its activity.

Parc national du volcan Poas 

Please note that booking your entry ticket will be done exclusively online. The Sinac site will allow you to book many national parks including the Poas volcano. Do not panic if you go there without having reserved your ticket in advance the day before, a wifi will be at your disposal and will allow you to book online directly on site.
Count 2000 colónes for parking and 17 dollars taxes included for the entrance ticket to the volcan.

# Sarchi village

A visit to the pretty artisanal village of Sarchi is not to be missed! In the province of Alajuela, Sarchi is definitely worth a look! Count 1h15 from the Poas volcano. The main square has a huge hand-painted multicolored ox cart. It is the symbol of Sarchi craftsmanship.

village artisanal de Sarchi village artisanal de Sarchi village artisanal de Sarchi

Carts were once used to transport coffee. On the square, just opposite the latter, stands a magnificent and imposing green Catholic church which overlooks the village. If you look closely at the facade of the latter, it has many patterns also painted by hand. Take the time to stroll through the colorful gardens of the central park of Sarchi and admire this architectural design.

village de Sarchi village de Sarchi village de Sarchi village de Sarchi village de Sarchi village de Sarchi

The city of Sarchi is famous for its manufacture of wooden or leather furniture but especially for this decorative painting and its ox carts called “carretas”. I advise you to make a short stop in a factory such as the fabrica de carretas Chaverri.

la fabrica de carretas Chaverri.

You can admire the dexterity of the painters. They paint with precision and talent.

la fabrica de carretas Chaverri. la fabrica de carretas Chaverri. la fabrica de carretas Chaverri. la fabrica de carretas Chaverri.

The factory is authentic and artisanal. It is the oldest in town. If you plan to have lunch in the village of Sarchi, I can recommend the Super Mariscos seafood restaurant. It has a large room with a very clean open kitchen. It does not look like much but you will eat very well there. I recommend ! 

# Naranjo Coffee Tour 

If you have time, stop at the Naranjo Coffee Tour . It produces Arabica coffee, the local variety in Costa Rica.

Be aware that it is illegal to produce any other variety of coffee in the country. The visit is interesting and gives lots of information on the history of coffee, its cultivation, roasting and storage. When your visit is over, you will have the right to a tasting and sale of ground or grain coffee as well as the tasting of cocoa beans in the coffee shop. The guides are passionate. 

# On the way to Monteverde !

Count 2h30 by road from Sarchi to reach the region of Monteverde . If you are looking for accommodation very close to monteverde national park, I highly recommend Moonbow house in San Luis. The place is ideally located on the hills. A real moment of escape! You will thus avoid the hectic downtown of Santa Elena. You will enjoy an exceptional view of the Monteverde valley. The sunset is breathtaking there at aperitif time.

la région de Monterverde. logement moonbow house la région de Monterverde.

You won’t get tired of it! Here it is the Pura Vida par excellence! The nights will be calm and peaceful. 

Day 3 : Cloud Forest at Monteverde !

# Cloud Forest 

Bosque Nuboso will put your head in the clouds, hence its other name of Cloud Forest ! It reminds me of the Anaga forest in Tenerife with a very mystical and misty vibe. This tropical forest experiences a very cloudy and humid climate.

Cloud Forest ! Bosque Nuboso Cloud Forest !

I advise you to go to the Monteverde Biological Reserve as soon as it opens at 7am. Life is more active there. You will travel 13km of trails through exceptional flora and you will be able to observe a very diversified fauna. Be very observant and discreet! Don’t forget your binoculars and your camera. If you are lucky, nature will reserve you beautiful encounters with, for example, a pretty caterpillar, cocoons, beetles or mushrooms. As for the birds, they are more difficult to photograph or observe. 

la réserve biologique de Monteverde la réserve biologique de Monteverde la réserve biologique de Monteverde la réserve biologique de Monteverde la réserve biologique de Monteverde la réserve biologique de Monteverde la réserve biologique de Monteverde la réserve biologique de Monteverde

Unfortunately for us, the famous trail with the suspension bridge was closed. This one was under renovation. This was a big disappointment, especially since the entrance to the site is relatively expensive. It will still cost you $25/person and $5 for parking. The tour does not have good value for money. 

# Colibri Cofee 

When you return from your hike in Cloud Forest, it is essential to take a break at the famous Colibri café. It is located opposite the entrance to Monteverde Park. You will enjoy a magical moment admiring the magnificent hummingbirds. You will be able to observe several species, all very colorful.

Café Colibri Café Colibri Café Colibri Café Colibri Café Colibri

That’s the main appeal of this unpretentious little cafe. Hummingbirds are attracted by the many drinking troughs hanging around this place. The birds are so accustomed to the presence of humans that they allow themselves to be observed from 50 cm away without being startled.

Café Colibri Café Colibri

It is a completely magical spectacle that is worth seeing. The cafe offers local products and highly recommended pastries. The place is shady and pleasant.

# Ficus La Raiz 

Located in Santa Elena, the La Raiz ficus will leave you speechless! The tree is simply magnificent; a marvel of nature! Access is located on private property. The owner will ask you 500 colónes per person for parking and visiting rights. It’s a small fee.

le ficus La Raiz ficus La Raiz ficus La Raiz ficus La Raiz

The owner has laid out the path with a few steps to facilitate access to the ficus. Count about twenty minutes to visit it. Going along the river a little lower, you can see the formation of a second identical but much younger tree.

ficus ficus

The roots of the ficus draw their resources from the water of the river until they become strong enough to finally straighten up and form a bridge. This “activity” is almost free, which is rare in Costa Rica. If you decide to park elsewhere than at the owner’s, there is a completely free path just 15 meters upstream from the sign. We preferred to pay so as not to struggle for parking but also to participate in the local economy.
The free trail starts on the road with a narrow dirt road that leads to the stream itself leading to the ficus tree.

# El Arbol Hueco

To date, access to the site is prohibited. Barbed wire has been installed in this area, which is now protected.

However, we stepped over the barbed wire on the advice of a local to be able to approach this wonder of nature. El arbol hueco is about 150m deep in the forest from the fence.

El arbol hueco El arbol hueco

You can have fun climbing up the center of the tree.

El arbol hueco El arbol hueco

The rigid intersecting roots are very aesthetic and form the trunk of the ficus.

El arbol hueco El arbol hueco

It is majestic! We were the only ones to enjoy this little secret place. 

# Mirador Vallé Escondido Préserve 

The view at the Vallé Escondido Preserve viewpoint is magnificent. It offers a panorama of a Costa Rican landscape. However, it is very difficult to park there because the viewpoint is on the side of the road. The place loses some of its charm because it is a bit noisy when vehicles pass. But the sunset is beautiful there. Benches are available to contemplate this spectacle. 

mirador Vallé Escondido Préserve

# Wildlife refuge Monteverde 

The Wildlife Refuge mainly organizes night tours to discover nocturnal wildlife. You may have the privilege of discovering red-eyed tree frogs, snakes, toucans and, for the luckiest, sloths! We didn’t do it at night, but apparently the guides are great.
It is possible to visit the park during the day. It is very well maintained and very pleasant. We saw emerald toucanets, motmots, monkeys and squirrels.

Wildlife Refuge motmot Wildlife Refuge motmot Wildlife Refuge motmot Wildlife Refuge Toucanet Wildlife Refuge Toucanet

We searched desperately for sloths with a shelter worker but unfortunately we were unlucky. I 100% recommend this place. 

Day 4 : The Curi Cancha reserve

# Curi Cancha

Curi Cancha is a beautiful reserve which is very different from Cloud Forest.

Curi cancha

We see more animals there than in the reserves of Santa Elena or Monteverde. The forest is less dense there and there are some clearings.

Curi cancha  

Opportunity to see coatis, monkeys and many species of birds (hummingbirds, motmot etc..). Be really attentive to nature and above all be silent. We did not take a guide but for enthusiasts it can be interesting on this site. We saw a lot of animals there ourselves.

Curi cancha coatis Curi cancha coatis Curi cancha coatis Curi cancha singe Curi cancha

The entrance ticket is 20€. Allow 4 hours to explore the entire site. In Curi Cancha, the fauna is very rich but the flora also conceals small treasures such as a century-old ficus tree not to be missed! Do not forget to contemplate it from the outside but also to visit it by entering its trunk. 

ficus centenaire ficus centenaire

# On the way to Rio Celeste 

To get to the Rio Celeste located on the edge of the Tenorio volcano, the possession of a 4×4 is essential! On your way, you will cross the crest of a mountain where the road is very bumpy. Be careful, it’s dizzying but the view is exceptional overlooking the surrounding valley! On your way, you will come across vans that tow vehicles that are unable to cross a difficult passage. They ask 5000 colónes for this service. It is certainly possible to avoid this road by making a detour, but it’s complicated to reprogram the GPS when you don’t know the area. Especially since we picked up absolutely no signal there. We passed with our 4×4 without problem but we passed vehicles that had to be towed. From the surroundings of Sante Elena to the Tenorio region, allow about 2h30 by road. 

# Where to stay near Rio Céleste ?

Tenorio is located in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica, on the Pacific coast. Tenorio Park takes its name from the majestic and impressive volcano that dominates the entire region.

parc de Tenorio

We had chosen to stay in a tiny house located on a flowery plot. The Casita accommodation is located 10 minutes walk from the Rio Céleste. This very basic little house is full of charm. It is very clean and ideal for your visit to the Rio Celeste. It is a real moment of zenitude. 

logement la Casita

On the other side of the road, our host has guest rooms where you can have your breakfast there. The continental breakfast is very generous and delicious but is not included in the rental price.

petit déjeuner a la casita

I highly recommend it, especially since you will be having lunch on a small elevated terrace which offers a magnificent view. Early in the morning, you will observe many varieties of birds. They come to eat banana pieces left by the host. 

 

Day 5 : Around the Rio Celeste 

# The Rio Celeste waterfall

Through this short video sequence, I will transport you for a moment into the magic of the Rio Celeste!

The Rio Celeste waterfall is a must-see, spectacular and exceptionally beautiful place in Tenorio National Park in Costa Rica. Its river is an unreal, magical and mesmerizing milky blue. The cascada primero reminds me  of a huge open-air natural swimming pool!  The Rio Céleste owes its name to a legend: When God finished painting the sky, he cleaned his brushes in the Rio Céleste , hence this special color. We almost believe it!  

La cascade du Rio Celeste

AGo to the puente al final where you will be amazed by this turquoise blue, even fluorescent, crossing the bridge.

Puente al final Rio celeste Costa Rica Puente al final Rio celeste Costa Rica Puente al final Rio celeste Costa Rica

In Rio Celeste the climate is tropical and therefore capricious. It is not rare to go there under a torrential rain. Be careful though because when there are strong storms the days or hours preceding the visit, this particular blue can disappear. The spell would be broken!
And yes ! The blue color of this celestial river comes from a chemical reaction between 2 tributaries each with different minerals, one from the Tenorio Volcano. The latter is rich in sulfur and calcium carbonate. In the event of heavy rain, the mineral content is diluted and the chemical reaction no longer takes place sufficiently for this particular blue to appear.Swimming in the Rio Celeste is prohibited in the park but is authorized outside this one. For information, there is a free public entrance near the bridge, 1km from the park entrance.
During your visit (the path is marked), you will also observe Los Borbolones de agua. These are small natural bubbling baths in the river. A natural spa!

Los Borbolones de agua Costa Rica

Then a little further, you will observe an incredible thing! You will witness the meeting of the 2 tributaries! Upstream, the river will be a natural color and downstream, the Rio Céleste becomes sky blue. It’s unreal but true!

le Rio Céleste le Rio Céleste le Rio Céleste le Rio Céleste

I let you discover this beauty of nature par excellence in image and video. The site is accessible from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. It will cost you $27 for 2 people. I recommend 100%. 

# El Arbol de la Paz

Along the road, 5min by car from Rio Céleste, stop at Arbol de la Paz . The place can be visited for free. The tree is over 800 years old!

It is majestic, massive and immense. The diameter of its trunk is just incredible with 50m high and 22m in diameter. You will have to climb its roots to get around it. You are going to feel really small and insignificant at the feet of this master of nature. Mandatory stop!

Arbol de la Paz Arbol de la Paz

# Jungle Life Sanctuary 

Not far from the Celestial Rio in Bijagua, Jungle Life will ensure you a tour in a nature reserve with exceptional fauna and flora. The competent guides will share their knowledge of nature and animals with enthusiasm. 

Sanctuaire Jungle Life 

At jungle life, you are sure to see sloths! The guides are equipped with binoculars and a tripod spotting scope. Indeed, sloths are perched very high in the trees and are often very difficult to observe up close, just like birds.
It is all the more difficult to observe sloths when they sleep because they curl up and are difficult to spot with the naked eye.

Sanctuaire Jungle Life paresseux

The sloth is both diurnal and nocturnal. They sleep 15 to 20 hours a day. It is the animal with the slowest metabolism in the world. It regulates its temperature with the blood. His heart can beat at 1000 beats per hour. He comes down from the trees only once a week to relieve himself. Its green camouflage and its slowness allow it not to be spotted by its predators. It lives in osmosis with insects. The latter use the sloth’s waste to lay eggs in.
There are two species of sloths: 2-toed and 3-toed. The 2 fingers have a less smiling face. As for their longevity, 2-toed sloths live between 15 to 25 years while 3-toed sloths live between 20 and 25 years. 

During your tour, you will certainly have the privilege of seeing different varieties of frogs and their eggs. We were able to see 2 species of frogs including a   green frog well camouflaged behind a leaf and a Blue Jeans frog.

grenouille Blue Jeans grenouille verte Jungle Life oeufs de grenouille

Frogs have  two defense mechanisms:
– camouflage mode: they can shade their color more or less dark or light.
– Some are also capable of secreting an unpleasant smell and taste on their skin for predators.
The Strawberry Dendrobate Frog or Strawberry Frog possess poison on their skin. They are also called Blue Jeans frog since they look like they have put on blue jeans! The natives harvested the poison from the skin of the frog and dipped their arrow in it. As you can see, Jungle Life gives a lot of explanations about the animals in the reserve. We also learned a lot about termites. At the entrance to the site is a huge nest of termites and bees.

Termites feed on honey. They are rich in proteins and allow the survival of man in case of extreme situations. The aborigines fed on them. If you want to learn more about the fauna and flora of this reserve, know that it will still cost you $20 per person. Do not hesitate to negotiate on the spot! The tour lasts 1 hour. When you return from your excursion, the Jungle Life team will provide you with some homemade pastries and coffee.

# Head to Arenal volcano

Your visit over, I suggest you hit the road again for new adventures in La Fortuna. The distance between Tenorio Volcano National Park and Arenal Volcano National Park is 46 km. The journey is not very long.. 

# Dormir au Wellness Park

Do you dream of being in connection and total immersion with nature? Do you dream of escape, relaxation and meditation? I therefore advise you without hesitation to sleep in the dome of peace at the Wellness Park located in the middle of the tropical forest with a breathtaking view of the majestic Arenal volcano.

the Peace Dome

The small dome will immediately immerse you in a fairy tale like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs ! The setting is truly enchanting. The very cute dome is equipped with all amenities (electricity, double bed, kitchenette, toilets and even a very good wifi!)
The atypical architecture of the dome will make you think of the famous Walt Disney’s cottage. You will really take yourself for Snow White!

Wellness Park le dome de la paix Wellness Park le dome de la paix Wellness Park le dome de la paix

You will be immersed in the middle of 24 hectares of property surrounded by nature with a multitude of wild animals day and night. The fauna is abundant there with monkeys, coatis, leaf cutter ants, toucans etc.
Indeed, early in the morning, you will be awakened by the melodious song of birds or the cry of the 3 species of monkeys present at the Wellness Park (capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys and spider monkey).

Wellness Park singe Wellness Park Wellness Park Wellness Park Wellness Park Wellness Park Wellness Park singe

The clearing is surrounded by many trees where animals have actually established their burrows or nests. For breakfast, a small furnished platform is at your disposal with a direct view of the jungle to admire this spectacle of mother nature.
At nightfall, another atmosphere reigns within the park. Bring a flashlight and explore the park in another dimension. The surrounding forest can become not scary but captivating! The animals of the day will give way to the fascinating ones of the night. You will go in search of the magnificent red-eyed tree frogs. You won’t get tired of spotting them with a flashlight! They are so cute

Wellness Park rainettes aux yeux rouges Wellness Park rainettes aux yeux rouges Wellness Park rainettes aux yeux rouges Wellness Park rainettes aux yeux rouges Wellness Park rainettes aux yeux rouges Wellness Park rainettes aux yeux rouges reinette a yeux rouges au wellness park

The evening of our arrival, Johnny, the brother of our host Max, was kind enough to give us a 1-hour guided night tour and explain to us how to search for tree frogs with a flashlight, but also stick insects, praying mantis and grasshoppers.

la vie nocturne au Wellness Park la vie nocturne au Wellness Park la vie nocturne au Wellness Park

At nightfall, the magical night show begins before your eyes with the twinkling and dancing of huge fireflies. Do not hesitate to ask Johnny to lend you the flashlights for your little nocturnal excursions on the following evenings. We stayed there for 4 days and 3 nights but we could have stayed there twice as the site is so peaceful and pleasant.
I advise you to devote time to visit the Wellness Park. In addition to night walks, a large number of activities are possible on site such as hikes, one of which goes to a waterfall where it is possible to swim.

plan du Wellness Park

The location is amazing, there is plenty to do and see and the view of the Arenal Volcano is amazing.

Wellness Park Costa Rica Wellness Park Costa Rica  Wellness Park Costa Rica

The Peace Dome is the only one in the park! You will have the latter all to yourself and it will allow you to recharge your batteries. There is even a suspension bridge that will take you to a Mirador offering a unique and splendid view of the Arenal Volcano. You will never tire of admiring the sunset.

pont suspendu du Wellness Park pont suspendu du Wellness Park vue du volcan Arenal depuis le Wellness Parkpont suspendu du Wellness Park

A stone’s throw from the dome, I also suggest you stroll through the magnificent  labyrinth of flowers and observe the hummingbirds. The maze represents the Wellness Park logo.

 labyrinthe de fleurs au Wellness Park logo Wellness Park

We had the pleasure of taking aerial photos of it with our drone. The logo (and the labyrinth) represent a magnificent fractal. What is a fractal? It is a form that repeats itself ad infinitum. Each part of the zoomed drawing represents the same figure on a smaller and smaller scale and to infinity.

If you have your own vehicle, you will have a free parking space available. I recommend 200% this little treasure hidden in the middle of the tropical jungle. 

Day 6 : Meet the du Arenal volcano ! 

# Arenal Volcano National Park 

Count 2h30 of walk in a primary tropical forest. You will be immersed in a green and dense forest where nature takes over with its vines, ferns and century-old trees.

Parc national du volcan Arenal  Parc national du volcan Arenal 

Several trails are available to you. We had chosen to go to the lava flow of 1992. On your arrival, you will enjoy a view of the lava flow, the volcano and a nice panorama of the Arenal laguna.

Parc national du volcan Arenal  Parc national du volcan Arenal  Parc national du volcan Arenal 

On your way, be discreet because you could meet wild animals like the coati, birds or big turkeys (the big Timanou). The walk is very pleasant. Possibility also to go up to a watchtower by car which leads to a beautiful view of the volcano. Entrance to the park will cost you 15 dollars/person.

# Mistico Park Arenal hanging bridges

From your accommodation at Wellness Park, it will take you only 5 minutes by car to reach the Mistico Park site . I advise you to get there all the same by car earlier than on foot because there is a big, fairly steep climb. Go at dawn when the site opens around 7am to avoid the tourist buses. The park will be calmer and will belong to you. You will increase your chances of seeing animals.
When you arrive early in the morning, the Park Mistico watchtower will offer you a magnificent view of the Arenal volcano. A nice breath of fresh air to start the day! 

Mystico Park Arenal hanging bridges is a beautiful park boasting many canopy hanging bridges. There are 6 suspension bridges, some of which reach almost 100 meters in length and around 50 meters in height! You don’t have to be dizzy! The views are superb.

Mystico Park Arenal hanging bridges Mystico Park Arenal hanging bridges Mystico Park Arenal hanging bridges Mystico Park Arenal hanging bridges

The dense atmosphere of the forest is very present there.

Mystico Park Arenal hanging bridges Mystico Park Arenal hanging bridges

The concrete paths are  easy and marked. Please note that the park closes at 4 p.m. like many parks in Costa Rica. Lots of activities are possible on site for those who wish. Don’t forget to stop at the pretty waterfall.

Mystico Park Arenal hanging bridges

The reservation of your entrance ticket must imperatively be planned in advance on their website. It will cost you $27/person.
Allow 2h30 for a leisurely visit. On site, possibility of hiring a guide. Animal sightings can be difficult without them.

# Where to eat at laguna del Arenal ? 

Los Iguanas Resort & Spa
Do you dream of a gourmet restaurant with an exotic atmosphere? The Blue hibiscus restaurant will be perfect for experiencing a moment of culinary escape! This upscale restaurant located in the Los Iguanas resort is surrounded by lush nature and has a spectacular view of the Arenal Volcano.
At nightfall, take a seat in a tropical, zen and subdued setting. The staff will be welcoming and smiling. The food is tasty, fresh and of high quality. It will surprise your taste buds. The dishes have a nice presentation. Congratulations to the chef!

The Blue hibiscus restaurant The Blue hibiscus restaurant The Blue hibiscus restaurant

The restaurant also serves fine wines and delicious cocktails. Nearby, I recommend the bar of the establishment, very cozy and equipped with a double swimming pool: below, you will bask in a heated freshwater swimming pool with waterfall and just above is another heated swimming pool where you sip or eat with your feet in the water to the rhythm of lounge music. The swimming pool located at the edge of the bar is equipped with stools in the water. It is a pleasant and relaxing moment.

Los Iguanas Resort & Spa Los Iguanas Resort & Spa Los Iguanas Resort & Spa

The park of the Los Iguanas resort is huge. Many walks are possible there allowing you to observe frogs, monkeys or sloths.
It is a prestigious hotel.
Each room is adorned with beautiful woodwork and is spacious, comfortable and clean. and has all the necessary amenities during your stay. You will appreciate the high ceilings of the rooms but especially the private balcony with a spectacular view of the Arenal volcano! 

The property is in a great location 10 minutes from Mistico Park and Arenal National Park.
In the Complex, a free transportation service by golf cart is at your disposal. It will allow you to go to the different buildings (bar, restaurant, spa).

Los Iguanas Resort & Spa Los Iguanas Resort & Spa Los Iguanas Resort & Spa

For your comfort, the reception is open 24 hours a day. All the conveniences are gathered in this top-of-the-range establishment with, in addition to the swimming pools, a spa with Balinese decoration! I assure you a pure moment of rest and relaxation after a long day. 

Restaurant El novillo del Arenal
Do you dream of eating red meat in Costa Rica?  Do not hesitate to take a table at El novillo del Arenal . This is an address for good eaters and meat lovers!
Their meat is tender and of high quality. The cooking is perfect! Every bite will melt in your mouth. The presentation of the plate, the seasoning and the accompaniment are well mastered. 

Restaurant El novillo del Arenal Restaurant El novillo del Arenal Restaurant El novillo del Arenal

The staff is young, helpful and smiling. We really enjoyed it.  The icing on the cake, you will taste your meat with an unobstructed and breathtaking view of the Arenal volcano!
Everything is there for you to have a good time at El novillo.
The restaurant is beautifully adorned with tropical plants. A playground and available for children. A real plus for parents! 

Restaurant El novillo del Arenal

Day 7 : La Fortuna

# La Fortuna waterfall 

La fortuna waterfall is a very beautiful waterfall surrounded by very lush vegetation.

La cascade de La fortuna

To reach the waterfall, you will have to take stairs with 500 steps to descend (and which you will have to go back up of course)! Ready for a little exercise? Don’t worry the site is very well laid out. Benches are available for a recovery stop to catch your breath. The course in the middle of the jungle is pleasant and shaded.

La cascade de La fortuna La cascade de La fortuna La cascade de La fortuna

If you plan to swim, a shower is mandatory before going to the waterfall in order to preserve the environment and also for health reasons. Lockers will be available  for your   personal belongings but you will need to provide a padlock. The site also offers a restaurant with a view of the surrounding jungle. You can eat a good roast chicken there or drink a delicious smoothie.

La cascade de La fortuna

When you arrive at the waterfall, you will have to find a small corner on the rocks to settle down because the place is very touristy. Possibility to swim there but the water remains fresh and invigorating!

La cascade de La fortuna La cascade de La fortuna La cascade de La fortuna La cascade de La fortuna

Admission will cost you $18/person. The price is a little high but the funds raised are intended to finance works in the community of La Fortuna. They make it possible to help schools or finance construction sites in La Fortuna. The La Fortuna waterfall site is operated by the local government. 

# Butterfly Conservatory 

Butterfly Conservatory is the ideal place to observe many species of butterflies including the emblematic blue butterfly of Costa Rica called El Morpho.

El Morpho Butterfly Conservatory

The site has 4 aviaries. You will observe the butterflies very closely and some will even come to rest on you if you are calm. A real magical moment! Butterflies are difficult to photograph in flight because they are very fast and unpredictable.

Butterfly Conservatory Serre du Butterfly Conservatory

You will love their grace when you see them foraging for nectar from the flowers and fruits made available to them. It will be easier for you to take some souvenir videos.
On site, a passionate entomologist will be at your disposal to inform you about the life of butterflies and their reproduction, as well as that of the emblematic frogs of Costa Rica. A greenhouse houses several vivariums where you can observe them if you haven’t had the chance to see them in their natural environment yet. A pond has been created for the frog breeding area. A specific area for turtles has also been created.

Butterfly Conservatory GRENOUILLE Butterfly Conservatory grenouille verte oeufs de grenouille butterfly conservatory  butterfly conservatory tortue  butterfly conservatory

To come back to the butterflies, the entomologist will teach you to recognize certain varieties of butterflies, male and female, by their colors and patterns.

Butterfly Conservatory Butterfly Conservatory Butterfly Conservatory Butterfly Conservatory Butterfly Conservatory Butterfly Conservatory Butterfly Conservatory Butterfly Conservatory Butterfly Conservatory  Butterfly Conservatory

At the entrance to the conservatory is a fine exhibition of dried insects. Possibility of having explanations on the entire life cycle of butterflies starting with the development of the egg, the chrysalis until the birth of the butterfly. The manager will give you an insight into the life cycle of butterflies by showing you beautiful live golden larvae, cocoons and caterpillars.

Butterfly Conservatory larves dorés vivantes exposition d’insectes séchés

The entire estate is surrounded by a lovely tropical garden.

Butterfly Conservatory Butterfly Conservatory Butterfly Conservatory Butterfly Conservatory Butterfly Conservatory

Do not hesitate to take the walk on the heights because it offers a splendid view of the greenhouses. Allow 2 hours for a leisurely visit to Butterfly Conservatory! The entrance ticket will cost you $17/person for this lovely moment of educational escape. Visit suitable for adults and children! 

Day 8 : From La Fortuna to Tortuguero  

# Hot Springs El Rio Chollin

Many hotel complexes such as Baldi or El Tabacon offer luxurious but very expensive spa services to enjoy the natural and volcanic hot waters of La Fortuna. Admittedly, they are well equipped but the budget is not necessarily accessible to everyone.
The Rio Chollin , certainly more basic, will offer you a moment of natural and free spa in the midst of lush vegetation. Take advantage of it because it is one of the few non-paying activities in Costa Rica! Park your car for free on the side of the road, in front of the El Tabacon resort. Be careful, be sure to park because the police can remove your plate for prohibited parking. Access to the site is just in front of the hotel.

Hot Springs El Rio Chollin

At first glance, the entrance is not very engaging because you will arrive under an abandoned bridge. The place looks like an abandoned area. I advise you to take water shoes with you.

Hot Springs El Rio Chollin Hot Springs El Rio Chollin Hot Springs El Rio Chollin

The only golden rule if you want to take full advantage of the Rio Chollin is to go there very early! This little paradise still has a price to pay! This will avoid a crowd bath.
I therefore advise you to go there around 7am for a relaxing and zen awakening. The advantage of going there very early is that you will have the site just for you!

Hot Springs El Rio Chollin Hot Springs El Rio Chollin Hot Springs El Rio Chollin Hot Springs El Rio Chollin Hot Springs El Rio Chollin

There will be only you, the tropical forest, the calm, the song of the birds and this hot water which massages you and relaxes the body and the spirit.

Hot Springs El Rio Chollin Hot Springs El Rio Chollin Hot Springs El Rio Chollin

During the day, the site is crowded with tourists because, as previously stated, the site is free! It is also impossible to park your car there. The little paradise will give way to a   nightmare! You will be on top of each other and will have to watch your stuff. Besides, remember to take a waterproof bag because you will have to cross small waterfalls. It is also a pity that some leave their waste (can, plastic bottle).
You have understood it well, the hot springs Rio Chollin waterfalls belong to those who get up early! And it’s worth the cost!

# Direction Tortuguero 

It’s time for you to leave La Fortuna and reach the small Amazon, north of the Caribbean coast. A turtle breeding area is nestled there. From La Fortuna, count 3h30 by road + 1h30 by boat to reach the famous Tortuguero National Park .
Tortuguero means “the land of the turtles”. This small piece of land is only accessible by boat. You must therefore go to the car park at the pier at La Pavona and leave your vehicle there for $10/day of parking. The boat trip is also   $10 round trip/person. Please note that luggage is not included! Add $1.40 per bag.

l’embarcadère à la Pavona l’embarcadère à la Pavona l’embarcadère à la Pavona

# Where to eat in Tortuguero ?

I can only recommend the Mí niño restaurant, located in the center of the village of Tortuguero. A lovely family runs this lovely restaurant. You will not be able to forget their superb smile and their kindness. They take great care of their customers. At Miniño you will taste typical dishes at very affordable prices. The food is fresh and tasty and the service fast.
The restaurant is open from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. They will be at your disposal to serve you breakfast, lunch, dinner or a drink. I advise you to book because it can quickly be taken by storm. In the plates, the portions served are really generous. You will leave with a full stomach. The cocktails are well dosed and really delicious. The restaurant premises are clean and tastefully decorated. 

le restaurant Mí niño le restaurant Mí niño le restaurant Mí niño

At Mi Niño it’s 100% Pura Vida!

# Where to sleep in Tortuguero ?

Without hesitation, I recommend the Hotel El Icaco in Tortuguero. Installed on the beach, you will be lulled by the sound of the waves. Hammocks are available. The location, slightly out of the way, will ensure you peace and quiet, while remaining less than 5min walk from the center of the village. You will live to the rhythm of the Pura Vida. You will appreciate the air of Jamaica given off by the hotel with its bright colors. The colorful rooms are simple, with good bedding, a small bathroom with hot water and a fan for hot nights.

hotel el Icaco Tortuguero hotel el Icaco Tortuguero hotel el Icaco Tortuguero hotel el Icaco Tortuguero

You will benefit from a very good quality/price ratio for accommodation in Tortuguero. The welcome and the kindness of the staff is really appreciable. They are caring and very helpful! The hotel also offers free access to a swimming pool. The latter is located on another property not far from the hotel. 

What to do in Tortuguero? 

# Observation of the nesting of sea turtles 

The best time to observe turtle nesting is from June to October. Egg laying is done mainly at night, accompanied by a guide. Unfortunately for us, we couldn’t attend this event because we weren’t there at the right time. Unfortunately, I cannot give you more details on this flagship activity of Tortuguero.

# Night tour in Tortuguero 

Tortuguero is a very wild and preserved little piece of land in Costa Rica. The fauna and flora are abundant there. I strongly advise you to explore this lush little jungle at night accompanied by a guide. Indeed, at night, the jungle of Tortuguero comes alive!

I can only recommend Mauricio who is an amazing guide to eye exercise! Here is his WhatsApp number +50686808107. He has an exceptional eye for finding the untraceable! Nature and animals have no secrets for him. He’s an expert!

nid d'abeille night tour Tortuguero night tour Tortuguero night tour Tortuguero night tour Tortuguero toucan qui dort

He has excellent knowledge of each species encountered and answers all the questions you ask him. He is far-sighted and considerate with his clients and keeps them safe by exploring every corner of the jungle before you set foot there. Be careful where you step because it is not uncommon to come across a snake! Even during the day in Tortuguero in the middle of the village, we came across a magnificent cat eyed snake blue head which was unfortunately run over by a cyclist.

cat eyed snake blue head cat eyed snake blue head

Thanks to Mauricio’s lynx eyes, we were able to see lots of animals like the Jesus Christ lizard. The latter has the incredible particularity of being able to run on water (hence its name).

le lézard Jésus Christ le lézard Jésus Christ le lézard Jésus Christ
At night a multitude of spiders weave their strong nylon web! It’s incredible !

Araignées night tour Tortuguero Araignées night tour Tortuguero Araignées night tour Tortuguero Araignées night tour Tortuguero

You may also be lucky enough to encounter two-toed sloths which are more diurnal.

night tour tortuguero

How do you recognize the 2-toed sloth from the 3-toed sloth except by the number of claws? The 2-toed sloths display a less harmonious face than the three-toed one because they have a big brown nose which gives them a less pretty smile..

Day 9 : Visite of Tortuguero 

# Canoe Tour

Take a canoe adventure down the river in Tortuguero National Park. You’ll feel like Indiana Jones as you row through lush jungle and weave through small canals and mangroves, while dodging obstacles like vines and branches. I promise you the encounter with many animal species such as caimans, crocodiles, bats, monkeys or iguanas.

Végètation à Tortuguero caiman a Tortuguero guide Tortuguero chauves souris à Tortuguero
Ornithologists will be delighted by the diversity of birds in the  park. Toucans, raptors, studs, or waders will be part of the show.

oiseaux du parc Tortuguero oiseaux du parc Tortuguero oiseaux du parc Tortuguero oiseaux du parc Tortuguero oiseaux du parc Tortuguero oiseaux du parc Tortuguero échassier Tortuguero échassier Tortuguero

I recommend a guide for an exceptional canoe tour! Here are his contact details:
Bernal Abream Chollette /  WhatsApp: 0050685826134 / email:  blackpowers@hotmail.com

He will take the time to introduce you to the fauna and flora of Tortuguero by passing on his knowledge to you.  The tour will last 3 hours. I really recommend that you contact him. Be careful, prefer a canoe trip and not a boat trip. The motor scares away the animals and the canoe is more environmentally friendly. By boat, it will be difficult for you to explore some cramped places and it will be more difficult for you to observe certain animals. 

It is also essential to take a ticket allowing you to access Tortuguero National Park. This ticket will cost you $17/person. It is obtained via the Sinac site . The ticket is only valid for one day and allows you to enter and leave the park at will. I therefore advise you to combine your canoe excursion with that of the visit to Tortuguero National Park on the same day so as not to pay twice for access to the park.

# Sendero Cerro mirador 

To get to the Cerro viewpoint , you will need to take a boat from the Tortuguero pier  which will cost you 2000 Colombes/person round trip. It is also necessary to take a ticket on the Sinac site because it is about another sector. This costs $2/person.

The boat will drop you off at 2:30 am on the island.  To get to the viewpoint, you will face the climb of 500 steps through a lush forest.

Sendero Cerro mirador  Sendero Cerro mirador 

Allow 25 minutes to reach the top. The viewpoint offers a breathtaking view of Tortuguero with the long coast of the Caribbean Sea on one side and the river channels that flow into the sea on the other.

mirador de Cerro

In the river, it is not impossible to see bull sharks coming from the sea coming up the river, and raptors hovering right in front of you. The view is really peaceful.

mirador de Cerro

Open your eyes wide during your excursion because the place is famous for the observation of the Rana Roja! The famous and elegant blue jeans frog! 

la Rana Roja la Rana Roja

We were lucky enough to come across a small one. The Sendero Cerro mirador is not only the only asset of this island. You will be immersed in a small authentic Costa Rican village in full immersion with the locals and their joie de vivre.

Costaricien Costaricien Costaricien

# Tortuguero National Park 

Tortuguero National Park is just 3 minutes’ walk from the hotel.
Normally, access requires a daily entrance ticket of $17 (see above). But many tourists pass by the beach that runs alongside the park to avoid this cost.

Parc national de Tortuguero  Parc national de Tortuguero  Parc national de Tortuguero

In fact, there is no real control. On the other hand, if you do not wish to pay, this will also prevent you from taking the canoe trip and also from participating in the local economy.
The walk is 6km round trip. On your way, be discreet and attentive because you will have the opportunity to come across many animals such as iguanas, capuchin monkeys, spider monkeys, coatis, opposums, lizards or even toucans or woodpeckers. The lucky ones may even come face to face with a puma or a jaguar!

pivert Tortuguero toucan Tortuguero lézard Tortuguero Coatis Tortuguero

Day 10 : Drive to Quepos 

Count 5h30 by road to get to the small town of Quepos located in the south of the island, in the province of Puntarenas. Collect your vehicle at the La Povana pier and hit the road. Be careful, the journey will be long. We had long hesitated between staying near Manuel Antonio National Park or going to the paradisiacal beaches of the Caribbean in Cahuita! Our schedule didn’t allow us to do both, so sometimes choices have to be made! 

# Where to stay in Quepos ?

In Quepos, book your stay at Selva Linda Lodge ! The lodge is located in the beautiful private park Palma Pacifica. As soon as you enter the bungalow, you will be amazed! You will be immersed in a lush jungle. Your awakenings will be lulled by the sounds of this exceptional tropical nature. Your room, equipped with a king size bed will offer you an incredible view of the surrounding jungle. It is not uncommon to see birds and animals from your bed. You will have a private terrace on stilts with a relaxation area and its small fitted kitchen.

Selva linda lodghe à Quepos Selva linda lodghe à Quepos Selva linda lodghe à Quepos Selva linda lodghe à Quepos

Your moments of relaxation in the hammocks will remain unforgettable. The lodges are brand new. It took 3 years for Catherine and her husband to create this little haven of peace. They have 3 bungalows of this type on their land as well as a beautiful swimming pool that you will appreciate at the end of the evening!

Selva linda lodghe à Quepos

Only small downside, there is no air conditioning but personally we have never suffered from it. The Palma Pacifica park is huge and offers many activities such as a night tour or hikes.

Quepos selva linda lodge Quepos selva linda lodge

You will be just 10 minutes by car from Manuel Antonio Park. . 

Day 11 : Manuel Antonio Park

# Manuel Antonio Park

Be careful, when approaching Manuel Antonio park, quite aggressive parking lot touts will jump on you. These are dishonest people who will make you pay the full price of $10 a day. Above all, do not stop or even argue with them. Otherwise, tell them that you are going to your hotel and not to Manuel Antonio Park. Then, park in the park car park which will be half the price (4000 colónes, or 5€60 per day) and above all much closer to the entrance. 

Parking du parc Manuel Antonio Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio Park is the most touristy park in Costa Rica but it is still very pleasant. The reservation of your entrance ticket will only be done online on the Sinac website . Plan your reservation at least 3 days in advance, otherwise you will find yourself without a ticket on the desired day.

Meet at Manuel Antonio Park as soon as it opens. You can spend a  whole day in the park between visiting the various trails and lazing on the beach. Don’t forget your bathing suit, beach towel, sunglasses and sunscreen. Attention, it is forbidden to bring your picnic. You will be searched at the entrance and everything will go in the trash. You will be forced to eat at the restaurant in the park. Only water bottles are tolerated. They want to prevent tourists from feeding the animals. This does not prevent the latter from gorging themselves in the restaurant by stealing the food, well especially the monkeys. It is a pretext to push to consume. 

Manuel Antonio National Park is an excellent place to observe and photograph sloths up close and not very high in the trees. The show was fabulous! 

We observed sloths but also raccoons, capuchin and howler monkeys, agoutis, iguanas, hermit crabs, snakes and frogs.

grenouille cachée dans un arbre au Parc Manuel Antonio Costa Rica grenouille cachée dans un arbre au Parc Manuel Antonio Costa Rica Iguane au Parc Manuel Antonio Costa Rica  Parc Manuel Antonio Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio Park offers several hiking trails including the sloth trail. 

I advise you not to take the lazy alley from the start because it is very busy. Instead, use the path parallel to the latter which takes you through the middle of the forest. Do not take a guide!

guide au Parc Manuel Antonio Costa Rica

You will encounter them at every corner of the park. All you have to do is spot the sloth and admire the spectacle.

Paresseux au Parc Manuel Antonio Costa Rica Paresseux au Parc Manuel Antonio Costa Rica Paresseux au Parc Manuel Antonio Costa Rica  Paresseux au Parc Manuel Antonio Costa Rica Paresseux au Parc Manuel Antonio Costa Rica Paresseux au Parc Manuel Antonio Costa Rica Paresseux au Parc Manuel Antonio Costa Rica  Paresseux au Parc Manuel Antonio Costa Rica Paresseux au Parc Manuel Antonio Costa Rica Paresseux au Parc Manuel Antonio Costa Rica Paresseux au Parc Manuel Antonio Costa Rica