Costa Rica trip – Cheryl & Ralph

Locatie: Costa Rica

Reisperiode: februari 2018


Dear Josje,

Flight and transfer from San Jose airport went well. We enjoyed the funky El Presidente Hotel. The restaurant and roof garden were particularly nice and a lovely escape from the noise of the streets. We walked around SJ all day the second day and went to the Gold Museum.

Transport the next morning to Tortuguero was excellent with a nice stopover for lunch. We had a super guide (Laura or Lauren). A tiny little ‘Tico’ full of energy and with a great sense of humour. The boat trip was really good and we saw a crocodile within 5 minutes!

We loved Mawamba Lodge and met some interesting people with whom we did the guided walks and river trips. We also did an additional early morning boat trip which was fantastic – we saw so many birds, caimans and watched the Capuchin monkeys playing and chasing each other right up to the edge of the water and up into trees only meters above our boat. We went on a fascinating garden walk with Laura and after dinner a night walk which was sadly cut short by a tropical downpour.

We had 3 nights in Sarapiqui. Mixed feelings about the Rainforest Lodge. The setting is beautiful and the pool and gardens very pretty. We had a lovely big room but no chair to sit on and outside the room one extremely uncomfortable jungle designer seat. There were about 7 sun-lounger seats around the pool but all were broken so people only sat on the edges or on the ground next to the chairs! Maybe they will replace them soon.

We did two walks in the Tirimbina Reserve and also the Chocolate Tour there which was very interesting. Saw sloths and beautiful birds there. Unfortunately it rained almost constantly while we were there (we went through two rain ponchos each!). Never seen rain like it – quite an experience and it certainly wasn’t cold.

The Observatory Lodge at El Arenal was great. Amazing number of birds and large groups of Coatis. Treated myself to a massage at the Spa after a soak in the Jacuzzi and a very refreshing dip in the pool. We had perfect views of El Arenal from our room most of the time.

We enjoyed the boat trip across lake Arenal. Roads were bad en route to Monteverde but drivers were all excellent. The Trapp Family Lodge was very nice and we had a lovely big room up the hill near the breakfast room. It was extremely windy while we were there and we (and the other guests) were huddled around in our warmest clothes and scarves even in the dining room in the evening. The waiters wore fleeces in the breakfast room! The wind just howled through everything. Apparently the wind was exceptional. We were within easy walking distance of the Cloud Forest Reserve and the Colibri/Humming bird café. We did a guided walk in the reserve and saw both a female and a male Quetzal. You were right. They are absolutely stunning but hard to spot. The best sightings were through the telescope of the guide! Enjoyed watching a huge variety of humming birds at the café. We did a cloud forest walk and went to the Bat Museum in St Elena. Had lunch at the Tree House. We also did a combined tour of a coffee, sugar cane and cacao plantation which was good although the Chocolate Tour at Saripiqui seemed more authentic (less touristy).

Then on to Manuel Antonio. You made a wonderful choice of hotel Josje. We loved Villas Nicolas. Pretty garden and pool area, gorgeous room (3ˆ) with great balcony, a hammock and comfortable seating. Plenty of restaurants nearby and an easy walk down to the beautiful beach. We booked a guided tour of the National Park starting at 07.00 but even then people were queuing up to get in. Our guide told us they try to limit the number of visitors to 2000 a day (more on public holidays). In our guidebook from 2016 it said maximum 600 people a day. I fear it is a victim of its own success. You did warn us but I’m still glad we went. We saw Squirrel monkeys there as well as Spider and Howler monkeys. Howlers were also in the trees near our room – it was wonderful to hear them so close. Also saw plenty of the mischievous Capuchin monkeys. Our guide was excellent (the nephew of Henry who is a popular guide). We ate at El Avion one night (interesting history to the restaurant) and saw a Sloth and her baby hanging only about 6 meters from our table on the balcony.

The drive to Sierpe was interesting (perfect, safe roads as you said). Drake Bay was lovely and we enjoyed the Wilderness Lodge. We had a nice cabin and the food was very good there. We enjoyed both tours. Saw scarlet macaws and many other stunning birds. The biggest thrill was watching a hump back whale. We were coming back from Caño Island and suddenly the driver stopped the boat as he’d notice the spray on the sea. We saw it breaching out of the water, waving its pectoral fins and slapping its tail onto the sea. We all sat in the boat in awe of such a wonderful sight. Watched it for about 20 minutes.

We were very impressed with the way the tourist industry is organized in Costa Rica. Also how efficient and punctual all our transfers were. The people were friendly and helpful. The only hiccough was the fact that Casa Maria was booked for the wrong night and was full the night we had planned to stay there. Your local colleague, Walter, kept us informed and arranged a night in a beautiful hotel, Alta Las Palomas, as an alternative/compensation. Very nice.

All in all a wonderful holiday made easy with your thoughtful planning and arrangements. Thank you so much.


Cheryl & Ralph

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