World Travel

Costa Rica Picture Travelogue

San Jose Fortuna/Arenal Monteverde Liberia Rincon Volcan Poas Tortuguero Puerto Viejo

(If you'd rather just see my favourite pictures of COSTA RICA, click here!)

Toucan
Toucan
Our route through Costa Rica (the map is clickable)
Our route through Costa Rica (the map is clickable)

Costa Rica celebrates the wonders of nature. Having many national parks, each offering it's own unique ecology, flora and fauna, seeing more than one is mandatory. It is a country of volcanoes, the most prominent being the active Volcan Arenal. We also visited Volcan Poas and Volcan Miravalles.

The country is quite well off economically with crime being significantly lower than Guatemala. People are friendly and helpful in a manner unknown to us yet: they want nothing in return for their helpfulness. A number of times we were offered help in the likes of 'did you understand what was just said'. Once the explanation was complete, the person offering help left. This was a welcome change from (especially) Cuba and Guatemala, where people always expected something in return.

San Jose has a number of 'Tourist Information' offices, which are all just travel agents. The interesting thing is that their employees will take considerable time in offering all sorts of useful information and think nothing of it if you just say goodbye afterwards. There's no strong selling. This trip was from 20.4.2001 to 6.5.2001.

My favourites of Costa Rica

  • Genuinely helpful people
  • Volcanoes everywhere
  • Seeing so many different animals and plants
  • Experiencing different types of Jungle
  • Extended horseback riding for the first time (from la Fortuna to Monteverde and in Rincon)
  • Hot springs, mud holes, Volcancito in Rincon de la Vieja National Park
  • Riding through the forest on horseback in Rincon
  • Damp, mouldy Monteverde forest smells
  • Seeing impressive Volcan Arenal (from all sides)
  • Volcan Poas with crater a kilometre wide and a green lake in the middle
  • Seeing Caribbean coastline from bus to Limon
  • Fine jet-black sand beach at Puerto Viejo
  • Hannelore, our room's German landlady in San Jose
  • Silent Canoe trip through jungle backwaters in Tortuguero National Park
  • Furious speedboat rides in Tortuguero with 200 HP
  • Unique Tortuguero National Park
  • Tiny bright red poison arrow frogs
  • Local bus rides through the country and in San Jose
  • Kuru disco in Liberia playing Cumbia and Salsa with many lively local dancers
  • Swim in remote cold jungle waterfall in Miravalles
  • Discovering body full of ticks from horseback ride in Rincon
  • Young Costa Rican women wearing provocative clothes in San Jose
  • "Tourist Information" shops with friendly and helpful personnel
  • Dusty, bumpy roads in Monteverde, Liberia, Rincon
  • Annewien in Liberia and Puerto Viejo
  • Fun traveling with Annewien
  • Long sky walk bridges high over the jungle canopy in Monteverde
  • Sleeping Sloths in trees looking like rag bags
  • Live Quetzals in Monteverde
  • Fast food all over town in San Jose
  • Unique names: "Cabina", "Soda", "Pulperia"
  • Kitsch interior decoration of Hotel Colibri wood cabin in Monteverde, furious night winds shaking cabin
  • Beach and crabs south of Puerto Viejo
  • Crossing border on foot from Costa Rica to Panama

Currency: Colon; 1 US$ = 300 Colones

The diary

20.4 Guatemala to San Jose
21.4 San Jose
22.4 San Jose to La Fortuna/Volcan Arenal
23.4 La Fortuna
24.4 La Fortuna to Monteverde
25.4 Monteverde Cloud Reserve
26.4 Monteverde: Sky Walk, Finca Ecologica
27.4 Liberia
28.4 Rinconcito Lodge
29.4 Miravalles to Liberia to San Jose
30.4 San Jose
1.5 Volcan Poas
2.5 Tortuguero
3.5 Tortuguero
4.5 Tortuguero to Puerto Viejo
5.5 Puerto Viejo
6.5 Puerto Viejo to Bocas del Toro (Panama)

Tips

  • The travel agents disguised as "Tourist Information" in San Jose and elsewhere are useful. They'll usually provide all sorts of helpful information without expecting that you actually buy anything
  • The trip from La Fortuna to Monteverde by horse is quite an adventure
  • The entrance to the Tabacon Resort near Volcan Arenal is very expensive and only worth it if you get a night-time view of the lava flow on Arenal. The ticket collector might let you take a peek for free. There's a cheaper hot-spring operator opposite, but has no Arenal view
  • Rincon de la Vieja is a nice place; ticks can leap onto you if you ride horses
  • The two-day trip from San Jose to Tortuguero is rushed, you'll see more on the 3-day. It's a nice experience paddling in a canoe, which is better than a normal boat 
  • Puerto Viejo is young western kids hanging out with a Jamaican reggae feel, not really Costa Rica. The (black) sand beaches are nice, though. A few kilometers south are some more nice beaches
  • If you cross the border from Sixaola to Panama, you might find a guy telling you what to do to cross the border, it's useful information. You DO need a red-cross stamp from the general store to exit Costa Rica!

Click here to start viewing the trip report