Costa Rica ~ Pura Vida
This past August (2014) I traveled to Costa Rica with my boyfriend, Michael. We spent 9 days there and loved it. It’s becoming such a hot spot for travelers in their twenties from all over Europe and America.
We decided we wanted to go to Costa Rica after we arrived back from the Amazon (we’ll save that for another day). The amazon was incredible, but you are not able to interact with any animals. Since I have a need to snuggle every animal I can, I found this amazing place in Costa Rica called the Jaguar Rescue Center. It’s a safe haven for hurt and orphaned animals. The center was started by two vets from Europe, and they accept volunteers from all over the world willing to donate 2 weeks+ of time. The goal of the center is to eventually get the animals back into the wild when possible.
So, the best part? We got to play with and hold baby monkeys!!!!! For 30 minutes we were in this huge room (the monkey cage) with monkeys running all over. We each were given a bottle to feed the monkeys as well. Yes, It was as amazing as it sounds. They are SO Cute, and humanlike. Some of them would stand on the ground and put their little hands out (and they have tiny little fingernails!) and wait until you held their hand and helped them up. It was also wonderful to see the monkeys loving all over the owner— It made me so happy to see that the monkeys were very happy and in a safe, well cared for environment.
We were also able to hold baby sloths and feed toucans 🙂
**Our first two lodges were eco-lodges and had gardens/animals that could sustain the hotel and it’s guests 🙂 Such a nice feeling to know the eggs came from the same chickens that woke you up that morning!
We flew into San Jose and then took a private transfer to Monteverde (We decided it was not worth the stressful drive and potential of popping a tire & getting lost since many of the roads do not have street lights/street names posted AND transfers are not very expensive). Hotel: Acro Iris Lodge
We checked out the small town of Monteverde and went Ziplining at Selvatura Park over the Cloud Forest the next day. Make sure you don’t skip out on the Tarzan swing at the end 🙂 * Bring your go pro!
The next morning, we took the 8:30 am Jeep/Boat/jeep transfer to the Arenal Volcano/La Fortuna. The boat taxi took us across Lake Arenal- the scenery is beautiful!
We checked in at our eco-lodge and were able to milk the lodge’s cows….it’s harder than it looks! It was really neat to see how badly the cows actually wanted to be milked- and her frustration with how long it was taking me to get the hang of it We hung out in the hot springs heated by the volcano and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon. Hotel : Silencio del Campo
The next morning we went hiking through a rainforest/across the Arenal Hanging bridges and we saw a few howler monkeys, frogs, and tarantulas. We hiked down to La Fortuna Waterfall and swam in the stream of water to the side (This is an iconic picture you will see when looking at pictures of Costa Rica; the current from the waterfall is too strong to swim at the base) and hiked up to the base of the Arenal Volcano. We found a Pit Viper sleeping on a tree during our hike : 0
On our second day in La Fortuna we went canyoning— which was AWESOME! We hiked through streams and rappelled down waterfalls, ending with a 200 foot guided free fall. Definitely my favorite activity!
Here come the monkeys!
The Jaguar Rescue Center is in Puerto Viejo— which is mainly filled with locals and young backpackers. In order to get there (we would have wasted over a day driving), we white water rafted down the Pacuare River and were picked up about 8 hours down and taken to our hotel. Puerto Viejo is on the South Eastern coast, and it’s a little bike/beach/yoga hippie town. It was definitely our favorite spot. We hung out and swam at the beach- the waves are awesome and there are boogie boards for rent 🙂 (these beaches can have an undertow if traveling with kiddos) and the people were great. We stayed at Banana Azul- the coolest hotel. We had two sets of open french doors leading to a giant balcony (not to mention you are surrounded by jungle like gardens next to the beach) and it was $80 US dollars a night. They brought us chocolates and a bottle of wine one night, along with our welcome drinks- which were whatever fancy drink we wanted at the bar. We rented bikes at the hotel and explored the town, took a really interesting Chocolate tour (we were able to eat raw cacao right off the tree), and went to the Jaguar Rescue Center. There’s also an awesome yoga studio right next to Caribeans (where the chocolate tour starts, and otherwise it’s a local coffee shop/cafe. We would have spent more time here if we could have- we Loved it.
A few tips on Booking/Taking a trip to Costa Rica…..
— Jaguar Rescue Center: schedule a private tour for the PM (you are able to hold 2x the amount of monkeys in the pm tour verse the AM). You will most likely be biking here, but if for some reason you are getting picked up (we were picked up to go straight to the airport), make sure you set a specific address because the Jaguar Rescue Center takes their signs down and is back in the trees and not advertised- most people who are not from around the area do not know where it is. Ask to hold the baby sloths as well & feed the toucans if they do not offer it— they’ll let you.
— If you have extra time, stay longer in Puerto Viejo AND/Or check out Manual Antonio.
— We found out a lot of the items being sold at markets and in stores are actually made in Guatemala. Try to find items (Like the carved wooden masks) with the artists name to make sure they are authentic.
– There are TONS of hostels if you are traveling on a tighter budget/ traveling solo.
– A forewarning- they eat a lot of rice & beans. Like for every. single. meal.
Please feel free to contact me if you want the names of companies we booked with or have any questions!! Pura Vida 🙂