A last minute decision- A idyllic jewel a Central America
A green violet ear hummingbird, Cloud Forest Reserve, Monteverde
Our road trip around Costa Rica in November 2007 was fairly spontaneous and was only organised a couple of weeks before departure.
Gary was in San Jose on business, so we decided we would make the most of the opportunity and add a couple of weeks on the end to explore the country.
So I read various reviews on blogs and forums and I came across a local Costa Rican Travel company www.latitudesadventure.com . They made an extra effort to help us organize our accommodation and car hire for the road trip within 7 days.
This is the overview of the whole 12 night journey.
So we begin
After a 16 hour journey from London to Costa Rica via Miami, I finally arrive in San Jose to meet Gary. To feel the lovely warm air at 9pm was fantastic, we had one night in San Jose ready for our adventure ahead.
The next morning, the car hire company met us at our hotel with the recommended 4X4 and also the GPS, which came in very handy.
After a detailed run down of the vehicle and the do’s and don’ts on Costa Rican roads (one of which I’ll come to later), we headed off on our 3 to 4 hour drive to Manuel Antonio, located on the Pacific Ocean side of Costa Rica.
If your heading off on your own Costa Rican adventure, than grab a copy of this DK Eyewitness book.
I love planning trips and these guides are so helpful.
I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.
Day 1 & 2
The view from the Hotel Parador lobby, Manuel Antonio
The pool at the Hotel Parador, Manuel Antonio
Our first Sloth in Costa Rica
Day 3, 4 & 5
Monteverde is well known for its ecotourism & Cloud Forest Reserve.
The next morning we jumped back into the Mitsubishi our 4×4 was an ideal choice for the journey up to the Cloud Forest Reserve.
Cloud Forest Reserve, Monteverde
On the way back we decided to take a short cut which at the time seemed a good idea…. now I trust Gary’s driving, but on this occasion the road less travelled was not a good idea. But once we started up this 30-degree narrow ascent there was no turning back, it was not fun.
To avoid the sinkholes and the rocks Gary decided to move the truck to my side of the road, but the 3-foot gully was not too welcoming. I shut my eyes and hoped for the best, Gary shifted to the lowest gear possible and crept up the rest of the road at a crawl, trying avoid the largest obstacles where possible.
The ironic thing was the road wasn’t that long, but until will got up the top of what seemed like a vertical climb we weren’t to know. My relief was difficult to hide, but no doubt the surge of profanities aimed at Gary let him know.
Over the Don Juan coffee plantation, Monteverde
Don't just take our word for it!
For day 6 & 7
Arenal volcano shrouded in cloud, Arenal
It’s good to listen to local advice.
Then came the part of the road trip whereby we were glad we listened to the guy giving us advice on the Costa Rican Highway Code. It was explained to us that there may be a chance that we would get pulled over by the police for speeding or other traffic misdemeanors. The advice was to pay the fine at the airport on departure.
Well that occasion occurred; on one of the more main roads in Costa Rica we turned a bend and could see police in the distance holding up a mobile speed camera, to our surprise they stopped us. The officer held up the registered speed to us on the camera and explained that we would incur a fine. Based on the advice of the Hire car company, we opted to pay at the airport. Then after some further contemplation between him and his colleague he decided that he would let us off on this occasion and sent us on our way.
We headed back along the same part of the road later in our trip and saw them again talking to another unsuspecting driver.
The volcano again covered in cloud, Arenal
A waterfall in the Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park
The cable line back to the Sky Tram base. Arenal
Embark on your own Costa Rican road trip you'll be amazed how easy it is to tour around by car with. Like us you can create your own road trip and visit Manuel Antonio, Monteverde, Arenal and Tortuguero.
Take a peek at the offers at Rental Cars, they cover all budgets and allow you to pick up and drop off at different destinations.
Day 9, 10 & 11
As the hop to Tortuguero is only accessible by boat, the travel company, which assisted us organise the tour (www.latitudesadventure.com), suggested that we complete this part of our road trip as a package. That way all the transfers, food and accommodation were included.
We head off in the coach at 5:45am the next morning and admire all the small towns and villages we pass through along the way.
A warm welcome from the Ticos, Tortuguero
The closer we get to Caño Blanco (where we pick the boat up) the more rural the scenery becomes, we travel through banana plantations and what appears to be farmers back yards.
This part of journey could be self driven but you would need to leave your vehicle at Caño Blanco (where you pick the boat up) for the few days that you are in Tortuguero.
The journey to Tortuguero is fabulous
A family on the water in Tortuguero
We complete the same journey to Tortuguero but in reverse and arrive back at San Jose late afternoon.
The final night
A mantled howler monkey - contemplating a snack
Inspired to visit Costa Rica?
Why not use San José as you base to explore this amazingly diverse country.
Then you can choose the Pacific or the Caribbean side, or both.
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