|View of Lake Arenal|
I spent the holidays on a tour of Costa Rica with my extended family this year. Although I missed the traditions of home during the holidays, I enjoyed learning how the Ticos (native Costa Ricans) celebrate Christmas. Like most Latin Americans, Ticos celebrate Christmas on the 24th of December starting at 11:00p.m. They get together with family and enjoy tamales, grilled chicken or pork, and pupusas(thick corn tortillas that are stuffed with cheese, beans and/or pork and cooked on a griddle). They also look forward to bullfights called Toros a la Tica, where dozens of young men jump into the ring to scare the bull into charging. The bulls are never harmed, but the men are sometimes gored. Costa Rica is a great destination for anyone that enjoys nature and adventure. For a romantic getaway, there are secluded bungalows overlooking the Pacific ocean. Families will enjoy hiking, ziplining, rafting, and seeing all the wildlife that is offered. I was most impressed by the eco-resorts, the friendly people, and the cleanliness of the country as a whole.
We toured the country with Tauck Bridges, a tour operator that specializes in escorted travel for grandparents and grandchildren. These trips “bridge” the generations because the activities appeal to all the ages in the group. Everything is included in the price of the tour, such as private guides, meals, hotels, gratuities, transfers, and domestic airfare. The trip was enhanced by knowing that we didn’t have to carry our wallets with us each day or worry about tipping protocol. Costa Rica’s bio diversity is what makes it such a unique destination. You can be sailing in a catamaran in the morning and three hours later be ziplining through a misty rainforest.
|Orange chinned parakeets|
We started out in the Guanacaste area which is located in the northwest Pacific area of the country. Our resort, El Bosque Del Mar, was hidden behind tall palm trees yet steps from the beach. The weather was perfect, clear skies, nice breezes and temperatures in the low 80s. We all relaxed before the formal tour started by strolling along the beach, splashing in the surf, playing in tide pools, or kayaking out to some nearby islands. Fishing was great and we caught tuna, snapper, and jack crevalle which were cleaned and prepared for our lunch. We snorkeled in the clear, cool Pacific on the way back in. A troop of Howler monkeys were our alarm clocks in the morning as they feasted on the tamarind fruit from the trees surrounding us. Before leaving Guanacaste we took a day trip up to Rincon de la Vieja National Park to ride horses, zipline, race down an enormous water slide, and soak in a natural geothermal spa.
Our next stop was a rainforest lodge on the San Carlos River. We took an amazing River Float tour and saw huge American crocodiles, various parrots and parakeets, toucans, spider monkeys, sloths, and many other of species of birds. Along the river we stopped and had lunch with a 101 year old native homesteader and his family. Later that day some of the group went horseback riding and ran into a lively troop of white-faced capuchin monkeys.
Tortuguero National Park on the Eastern Caribbean side was our third stop. This is the area where four different species of sea turtles come to nest in June, July, and August. Our eco-lodge, Evergreen, was a verdant paradise carved out of the jungle which ran solely on solar power. We were greeted by spider monkeys on the front porch and toucans at the pool. From here, we took river boat tours near the Nicaragua border to see rare wildlife such as the spectacled caiman and the Great Green Macaw. A highlight for the kids was a flashlight hike guided by our main tour guide Federico and several local wildlife experts. The kids had the chance to closely inspect many kinds of frogs, toads, insects, spiders, and snakes.
We ended the trip on New Year’s Eve in San Jose, the capital. After a city tour, we visited Sibu, a chocolate plantation where we learned the process of chocolate making and the history of the cocoa bean. The kids got to make and package their own chocolate bars and we all sampled a plate full of the most unique and delicious handmade chocolates to be found. We spent our last night in luxury at the Intercontinental Real, San Jose. We relaxed by the pool while the restaurants and club filled up with affluent young Ticos dressed to the nines and ready to party the New Year in. As the sun set on New Year’s Eve, a flock of emerald green parakeets sailed into the courtyard around the pool and filled the air with their chatter. It was a fitting farewell from such a wild and beautiful country.
If you haven’t been to Costa Rica and you are seeking a Spring Break or Summer escape, call me to help plan your trip. You now have a Costa Rican expert.
Solis Escapes, LLC