Category Archives: Costa Rica

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Final Days Of Costa Rican Living

Puerto Viejo in Costa Rica is full of incredible wildlife, landscapes and more!

From San Jose, Costa Rica’s slightly underwhelming capital, we travelled by public bus down to Puerto Viejo – a small town on the Caribbean coast with a relaxed attitude and Rastafarian influences. Hotel Jacaranda was one of the most beautifully designed places I have stayed in. Murals of ceramic tiles adorned the floors and walls. Beautiful gardens filled the central courtyard with exotic, colourful flowers and small lizards clambering up and down. Rooms were basic but functional and had a real unique style.

Wanderlust Chloe Puerto Viejo Jacaranda

Puerto Viejo (meaning old port) has everything you need for a beach town. Cafés, market stalls, plenty of restaurants, a few bars serving well-made cocktails and some small boutiques and souvenir shops. Bread And Chocolate was an amazing spot for a casual coffee and cake, or a full blown breakfast. The fried egg and cheese bagel with fresh avocado and sautéed potatoes was to die for! The coffee was excellent too. Also delicious was the sushi at Chili Rojo. This is a town you definitely won’t go hungry in!

Wanderlust Chloe Puerto Viejo Bread and Chocolate

Cocles Beach was a  twenty minute walk away, or ten minutes if you decide to go for a run in the torrential rain as I did! It’s popular with surfers and had some amazing big waves, perfect for tricks.  Wanderlust Chloe Puerto Viejo Surf

As well as beaches, the area is famous for its wildlife. While there we visited Cahuita Park – a park with rainforest right along the beach. While there we saw an abundance of wildlife – toucans, sloths, Jesus Christ lizards, iguanas, snakes, giant crickets, leaf cutter ants and more. It was amazing to see the animals hard at work in their natural habitats. Wanderlust Chloe Costa Rica Snake

After, we visited Jaguar Rescue Centre – a refuge for sick, unwanted or underdeveloped wild animals. It was set up by a couple of biomedical scientists from Europe who moved to Costa Rica for a change of pace. Little did they know, as soon as they moved to the area, locals heard they could help animals and turned up on the doorstep with sick monkeys, owls with broken wings, and blind crocodiles! Gradually they decided to set up the rescue centre officially and it’s been expanding ever since. All staff work there on a voluntary basis – looking after the animals and giving informative tours. Our tour guide was Dutch, in her early twenties and had been volunteering for around two years and absolutely loved it!

As part of the tour we had the opportunity to sit in the monkey enclosure while spider and squirrel monkeys played around – swinging and jumping from place to place. They used my head and knees as springboards and surprised me wrapping tails around my arms! They were very inquisitive and it was amazing to have them so close! A large sloth hung from a tree, while a baby fed and climbed around very slowly. A girl sat on the floor of an enclosure stroking and playing with a baby ocelot (wild cat similar to a leaopard). It was small, and kitten like, but in a few weeks it would no longer be safe for this level of human contact. A one-eyed owl perched on a branch, unable to be let out as it wouldn’t be able to hunt for prey, and would be in danger from predators.

Wanderlust Chloe Costa Rica Ocelot
Wanderlust Chloe Toucan Costa Rica

The attitude at this rescue centre is what makes it really special. The emphasis is on getting the animals ready for release if possible. Monkeys are taken to the rainforest regularly to experience jungle life, and then brought back to the safety and comfort of the rescue centre. However, if they want to stay, and settle into the jungle environment then they are not forced to return. Around 70% of animals taken in are successfully released back int the wild, but sadly some are too badly injured that it’s not possible.

Wanderlust Chloe Costa Rica Sloth 2Wanderlust Chloe Crocodile Costa Rica

We also saw a large collection of snakes, a tree frog, alligators, an anteater, vultures, toucans and more baby wildcats. I left with a head full of knowledge, and in awe of the amazing work they do.

Monteverde, Costa Rica – Zip-lining and Coffee

Monteverde is a beautiful part of Costa Rica, and even better – it’s famous for zip-lining and coffee!

Ever since we arrived in Costa Rica, it’s been raining. Considering it is rainy season and we’re in the rainforest, I guess it’s ok! Monteverde is a small touristy town, and to get there you will enjoy a full Costa Rican massage – i.e. the roads are the bumpiest you will ever experience!

The scenery is pretty spectacular – huge mountains with clouds resting heavily on them, sweeping valleys, thick forests, and narrow roads snaking around it all. We stayed at Historias Lodge, a small hotel in a quiet part of town.

Wanderlust Chloe Monteverde

Monteverde is a favourite with tourists because there is so much to do in the area. It has some of the best ziplining in the country, incredible treetop walkways, gardens, wildlife parks, coffee tours and more! With just over 24 hours there, I packed in some extreme ziplining and a coffee, cocoa and sugar cane tour.

We chose to do the zip lining at 100% Aventura Extreme which boasts the longest zipline in Central America along with the legendary Mega Tarzan Swing. I’ve only ever ziplined on short cables, usually over water. Those ones had seats and we didn’t have to brake or control our speed. These beasts in Monteverde were incredibly high up above the forest, and a bit more serious! First, I was kitted out with a harness and given a helmet and gloves. Then given a safety demonstration on how to hold myself, where to grip, how to brake and what not to do. It felt like a lot of information, and I couldn’t help but worry that I wouldn’t get it right, or worse still, have an accident which left me hurtling towards the ground at high speed.

Wanderlust Chloe Ziplining Monteverde 3

The first ziplines were short and designed primarily to get comfortable and perfect the technique. Wow! What fun! Nerves disappeared quickly, adrenalin rushed through my body and I became more and more confident. That was until zipline number three, where the guide tried to clip me onto the cable, and looked concerned at a metal part of my equipment. He replaced it and I couldn’t help but wonder what the fault had been and how lucky I must have been to not have any accidents on my first few runs!

Panic over, I relaxed into the next few before being clipped on to the another and told ‘the next one is down there’. Down where? Below me? Have a nice ride… Arghhhh I hurtled towards the ground, unexpectedly abseiling down! Nice of them to surprise me…

There are two superman-style ziplines where, rather than travelling upright, you’re attached around your stomach as if you’re flying through. What a rush, and how beautiful the view of the fields, mountains and rainforest looked from high up!

After disembarking the longest zipline – which was incredible, I was asked ‘Would you like to to the Mega Tarzan swing?’ Hmmm not exactly… but would I be missing out on something amazing if I didn’t do it? Besides it was the final one to complete before heading back to the hotel. ‘Sure – but I’m terrified!’

The Mega Tarzan Swing is almost 50m up in the sky, and as I walked along the platform to get to it,  I became aware that there was a sheer drop at the end of it. So terrifying! My stomach sank numerous times at the thought of it. Once attached to the cables, a small gate was opened and I was told to step forward, where I would instantly free fall 35m and swing over 100ft from side to side. The fact you have to take control and step forward is hard when you’re not sure you’re brave enough to do it at all. Uno, dos, tres… Arghhhhhhhhhh.

Wanderlust Chloe Tarzan Swing Monteverde
You could probably hear my screams from space. I’ve never felt anything like it! The free fall is terrifying and the swing gives you the sinking-tummy feeling several times. I was impressed I was brave enough to do it but needed ten mins after to stop myself from shaking, and catch my breath. It was fun watching everyone else have a go, and seeing the different ways people react to that level of fear, shock and adrenalin.

A few hours later, I visited El Trapiche – a nearby coffee, sugar cane and cocoa experience. It’s run by a local family who have been making coffee for generations. The trip doubles as am amazing wildlife experience too – spotting three sloths in the trees on the plantation.

Wanderlust Chloe Coffee Tour 3

It’s fair to say I had no idea how coffee went from bean to cup. What a lengthy process it. It’s incredible anyone ever discovered that after numerous processes you would be left with a delicious cup of coffee that would help start your day in the best way possible.Coffee comes from a red berry, which holds one or two seeds. These berries are picked by workers who get paid very little for manual labour. In Costa Rica, coffee pickers are often from neighbouring Nicaragua or Panama where the rate of unemployment is higher. For a 13kg bucket of berries, workers will be paid around $2 USD. From these berries, not all will be usable. The coffee beans are extracted, washed, and then left to dry out for several days. Once complete, they are sorted by machine into the different types of coffee.
Wanderlust Chloe Coffee Tour

Most berries contain two coffee beans, but some are special and only contain one. These are called Peaberry and produce the best quality coffee.
Once sorted, the beans are roasted. Interestingly the darkest roast which has the strongest, most aromatic flavour, contains the least caffeine. The light roast has less flavour, but more caffeine. It’s a long journey from bean to cup, and after seeing the work that goes into it, I will never look at my morning cappuccino in the same way.

Wanderlust Chloe Coffee Tour 2

Next stop in Costa Rica, La Fortuna!

Adios Amigos…

Tomorrow I leave the UK to head off on a solo travel adventure of a lifetime to Central America… but how am I feeling?

So this is it… Tomorrow I leave the UK for 3 months on a solo travel adventure of a lifetime to Central America! I’ve had a countdown running on my phone – it’s 87 days since I made the decision to do this, 29 since I left my job… and now the ticker is down to 1 for my departure. Continue reading Adios Amigos…