Costa Rica #1 Central Area
A lot of people are asking me informations about this very nice country lately, so I decided to write posts about it to share my experience with you. Of course I am not an expert about this country and I know I haven’t seen everything it offers. So I’ll just share with you what I had the chance to do and like.
For information, the adress I’ll share with you on this post correspond to the “average” lonely planet budget category, which is about US$40- 100 a day, including :
- Basic bedroom with bathroon (20-30$/day)
- Restaurants (5-10$)
- First class Buses like Interbus.
We took a flight from Montreal to Liberia. Most of the time you will fly to San Jose, but you should have a look at Liberia airport as well. There are less flights but they could be more interesting on the dates or prices. We originally thought that we would travel in the country with buses. I’m used to travel to Asia and I never thought I would take a car there, so I didn’t even think about it for Costa Rica (I used to travel alone, so no way I would have tken a car!). But when we arrived there, we realised that it is actually WAY easier to rent a car then to deal with buses. If you are at least 2 people, I highly recommend you to rent a car as it will make your life in the country so much better. Most of the rent car compagnies are waiting for you outside of the aiport and it is very hard to find wich one to take!! We went for U-Save company for a Jimny car for US$850 for 15 days including GPS. This company was really nice and we had no problem at all with the car. Don’t make the same mistake as somme people we’ve met and please take a 4X4 if you don’t want to finish with a flat tire during your trip.
Once we had the car, we drove 4 hours to La Fortuna, a small city in the center of the country where you can see the Arenal Volcano. If you come from the north the road is a bit though but very nice. I recommand you to take it and drive around the Arenal Lake which is stunning. Roads are not straight tho, so get ready for adventures!
We spent three days in La Fortuna, under a very humid weather! I didn’t think we would have that much rain to be honest, but I mean when they call it “rainforest” what did you expect Anna! Anyway, between the clouds we have seen very quickly the Arenal Volcano, but I am sad that we haven’t seen it better. You can hike in the Arenal Volcano park, where you have different trails depending on your level. The park entry is about 10$.
Then you should drive to the Fortuna Waterfall, a very nice place too. It is about 15 min from the town, and you can park easily. Once you are there, you need to go down a LOT of stairs to arrive to the waterfall downstairs. The landscape is very nice and quite impressive. The good thing? You can even swim in it! Not straight under the waterfall obviously but a little bit more on the left. The water is quite cold but it is very enjoyable!
Hostel : Arenal backpackers resort
Dorm : 15$ ; Private tent : 35$ ; Private Room : 60$
Outdoor swimming pool, wifi and restaurant.
In Costa-Rica you can do a lot of outdoors activities like Zip-Lining. We chose to do it in La Fortuna, but there are many other places where you could do it. I’ve got a very high vertigo, so you could imagine the feeling I had when I did this. But obviously I had to force myself and do it there! We booked the activity with our hostel, and people from EcoGlide picked us up there. It’s a 2hours activity with 13 cables of different lenghts and speed, and of course different hights. As you can see on the picture I’m not feeling so comfortable … Because I am really scared and! because we had, in the middle of the activity, a pooring rain which wasn’t so enjoyable! All in all I’m glad we’ve done it and I still had a lot of fun! If you’re not afraid of hights like me, you can do the Tarzan Swing as well during the activity. Finally, the Bungee jump is possible too! Price of the activity : 50$.
One of the most famous attraction from La Fortuna is the Hot Springs! They come straight from the Volcano and the water is so damn hot! (I wish we could have this in Canada!). When you spend most of the day doing outdoors activities, you can’t even believe the feeling you have ending your day like this! You have a lot of combo activities you can book in your hostel like Zip Lining + Hot springs but it is usually very crowed. My friend gave me the best adress in town : The hotel The Springs, where the US Bachelor 2011 took his bachelorettes for a date is the best deal : if you pay 50$ for the hot springs you have access for two full days! And access as well to the different pools of the hotel (they are all so nice). Just remember when you go there : the cheapest price of the room is 450$ a night Ahaha so enjoy!
After three days there, we went back on the road again to Monteverde. This road is quite crazy too, but it is not the worst one trust me! You can see amazing landscape and I assure you that the weather is getting a bit better when you go to Santa Elena!
In this very nice area of Monteverde, you have the choice between two very nice rainforest : Monteverde cloud forest, most popular one, with very nice and clean tracks but apparently a bit touristy, and the Santa Elena Cloud Forest, located 18km from town, a more adventurous place. Because of time we decided to go to the first one, and because it was raining that day we didn’t have too many people around us. Yes I told you, we had a lot of rain at the beginning of our trip!
I have never done a rainforest before and it is quite spectacular to be honest. You are just in the middle of a very humid jungle, surrounded by trees and apparently different types of animals (no no, don’t think you have snakes close to you because you actually do, but let’s just forget about that or you’re gonna freak out). If you want to see animals, you can ask for a guide for 25$ an hours, but because of the weather it wasn’t really worth it so we didn’t. In this amazing forest you cross an hanging bridge, which is a very strange feeling! I thought I would see more than one, but there is actually a park (a fake one, not a natural rainforest) where you have tones of hanging bridges. But I guess it is not the same as a proper rainforest so I haven’t been there. Open your eyes for wildlife !
At night, in Monteverde, I recommend you to book with your hostel the “night walk”. During two hours, a guide is gonna show you, in a small forest (in a group of 8 ppl) a lot of animals. don’t worry I found that they were really respectful with nature! You will see animals that you will never see alone : snakes, frogs, racoon (those one you’ll see them later tho trust me…), sloth in the night of even Kinkaju (very hard to see). The activity is 20$ by person and they pick you at your hostel. In my opinion, it really worth it.
The country uses two different money : Us dollars and Colones. On the each colones note you have an animal of the country. Look how cute this sloth is!!
In the next post of this trip, I’ll speak to you about the pacific coast! So stay tunned and I hope you liked it!