Costa Rica - Our Dream Destination

Catherine and Renae

16 Feb 2017

Exploring the highlights of Costa Rica

Costa Rica is jungle, rainforest, mountains and beach!! Often when you read or dream about a destination the reality doesn’t live up to the anticipation and expectation, however Costa Rica did in spades. We travelled a long way with a myopic focus: to see a sloth in the wild. 40 hours of international travel with no guarantee of seeing the small two and three toed creatures that were so eagerly awaited.

Getting off the beaten track

Our safari covered Tortuguero National Park, the Osa Peninsula, San Gerardo de Dota, the Arenal Volcano with a fleeting visit to San Jose. Our brief was that we wanted to cover as much of the country’s main wildlife areas as possible in 14 days and to have the most intimate wildlife viewings as we could, all during the Christmas and New Year break. We have extensively travelled and we know that the best wildlife viewings are achieved where you have the least people (or the most well managed groups) and in all locations we were fortunate enough to see and hear the comings and goings of the wildlife with very limited human interference. 

Overall the guides and the accommodation were fantastic, with two particular highlights, Tortuguero National Park which lived up to picture perfect jungle experience and San Gerardo de Dota, a place recommended by Natural World Safaris and not on the well-trodden tourist trail. Tortuguero certainly gave us the most prolific wildlife experiences with some directly outside our room or within the lodge itself. We were lucky enough to see all of the larger mammals, all four species of monkey, (with the ubiquitous howlers starting early, although for us this was not wake up call, as we were already out by 5.30am each morning), porcupines, anteaters and sloths as well as the smaller creatures, the blue jeans dart frog and the fearsome bullet ants. The guides saw our enthusiasm for both the large and small creatures and kindly organised us extra safaris throughout our stay including additional early morning boat cruises and walking safaris (in the torrential rain!) so that we had the best opportunities to see as much as we could within the three full days we were there. 

Constant exciting surprises

Moving to the beach was beautiful, and the Osa Peninsula is truly one of the world’s most beautiful and pristine destinations, and although the beach was unfortunately a little rough to swim, it delivered on the wild remote dreams of a deserted tropical beach. San Gerardo de Dota surprised with fantastic Christmas Day treat of the elusive Resplendent Quetzal as well as the most beautiful and abundant viewings of hummingbirds happily feeding outside our room and despite the weather completely obscuring our view of the Arenal volcano, the hot springs were a fantastic end to a magical trip.

There was nothing within this holiday that disappointed, the transfers between locations were well thought through with no really long days travelling between destinations, the accommodation was perfect in each location with enough time allowed to relax and enjoy the facilities and the itinerary was so thought through that it included the occasional lazy cocktail by the pool which was perfect after days of early morning starts.

And how many sloths did we see? A total of 8 in the wild, but the highlight after all the searching through the jungles and the rain, was the two toed sloth quietly wandering around a large tree with her small baby, two blocks back from the tourist hub of La Fortuna. 

It was wonderful to be treated to the unexpected, which I think is the perfect summary of the entire trip.

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