Best wishes on planning a trip to Costa Rica—below you will find the itinerary that was recommended by my friend/colleague, Chris Baker, who happens to an authority on the subject. He has written numerous books about traveling in Costa Rica for Moon Publications and National Geographic as well as served as a tour guide for National Geographic Expeditions. My adventure was a two week customized trip arranged by Costa Rica Expeditions, a company he highly recommended. They did a great job!
Costa Rica is a geological wonderland with the Pacific Ocean on one side, Caribbean Sea on the other and volcanoes in the middle. It safe, people are friendly, it has a fairly functional society (socialized medicine/education), coffee is great, roads are good and transportation is accessible and affordable. Unfortunately, the food, culture and art leave something to be desired.
- Flew into San Jose – took a city tour and also went whitewater rafting on River Pacuare.
- Flew to Tortuguero which is a lush tropical and beautiful rain forest jungle with waterways though out for boating and seeing lots of wildlife and birds. I stayed at the Tortuguero Lodge-2 nites
- Flew to Corcovado Lodge, a tent camp on Pacific Ocean which is located near or/in Corcovado National park. I went for an amazing hike in the park and swam in the ocean. Stayed 2 nites
- Then I was transported to Puerto Viejo on Caribbean coast where the black folks are. They are Costa Rica’s largest minority and they primarily migrated from Jamaicia in the 1920’s to work in the shipyards and there descendants stayed on. Lucky for us they speak English. I happened to be there on a nite they were have a big town party, replete with outdoor dancing, vendors, candles/bonfire/live music on the beach. Big Fun! I stayed in Shawanda Lodge which was very nice but a bit far out of town. I stayed one nite but I would recommend two.
- Took a day trip to the neighboring town of Cahuita. It too has lots of friendly black folks. They have a nice national forest there that is worth visiting. Rumor has it that here is an old unia headquarters in Limon but I did not get a chance to visit there.
- Took van to Mount Arenal to see the amazing active volcano. It bubbles up and oozes fiery red lava 24/7. If you are lucky, like me, you will go on a night where there is not much of a cloud cover and you can see the volcano in action. I stayed up almost the whole night sitting on the balcony outside my hotel room absolutely mesmerized by the sights and sounds of the volcano in full force and effect. Its remarkable how close you can get and not be in danger. Earlier in the evening I had the pleasure of visiting the gorgeous Hidalgo hot springs which was nestled in a lush tropical setting. Consider checking out the Tabacon Hot Springs and Xandari Resort Spa. 1-2 nites
- Took a van and then a boat to Monteverde Cloud forest and stayed at Montverde Lodge for 2 nites. Highlights: took a nite hike and saw loads of nocturnal creatures; went to an artist colony and of course hiked through the cloud forest.
- Back to San Jose!