Why visit... Costa Rica?

| September 17, 2018

Having never been to Central America, never seen a rainforest, sloths, macaws, toucans, boa constrictors, iguanas or caimans, it was an opportunity to experience almost Amazon avifauna. Another attraction is that the small country is bounded by the Caribbean and Pacific and home to volcanoes. It sounded as if it had everything!

Our expectations were met and, indeed, far exceeded on our first Cox & Kings holiday. The organisation was perfect – the transfers and communication worked perfectly. Our guide, Hector, was as good as it gets – highly efficient, personable and a cracking expert on wildlife, notably birds. The lodges were stunning and the coach travel was comfortable and very safe.


The first two nights were at a very good western hotel in San Jose, which helped us adjust after the flight. From here, we enjoyed a wonderful day out at Irazú volcano. There was amazing cultivation and the small fields reminded us of home. As we headed up through the rich lava soils, we spotted gorgeous humming birds at our 3,432m summit.

The stay at Mawamba Lodge in Tortuguero was magical, we keep reminiscing about it! Only accessible by boat, the journey along forest-fringed ‘canals’ was a wonderful experience. We relaxed in hammocks, watching toucans, macaws, sloths and iguanas. The pool was great as the Caribbean sea was far too rough to swim in. Merely a few yards away, the sound of the surf at night was unforgettable. On the boat trips, we were fortunate to see three kinds of monkeys. The sound of the howler monkeys and the spider monkeys’ agility was another highlight.

Irazu volcano

Irazu volcano

Due to low cloud, we never saw the peak of the volcano in our two day stay at Arenal. Nonetheless, we enjoyed soaking in the hot springs. The trip to the Caño Negro wildlife refuge on the Nicaragua border was our best river trip, we saw a host of bird species: vultures, osprey, mangrove swallows and kingfishers as well as our best views of monkeys and caiman. Not to forgot the extraordinary basilisk lizard!

Our stay at Fonda Vela in Monteverde for the cloud forest was unforgettable. Yes, it rained non-stop for two days, but at least we knew why it was called a rainforest! The lodge was stunning with beautiful gardens and a superb restaurant. We twice revelled in watching the sun go down. The high walks through the forest were a highlight and we saw a great variety of hummingbirds. Sadly, the Quetzal was elusive, but being above the canopy was a remarkable experience.

A squirrel monkey

A squirrel monkey

En route to our next destination there was a fascinating walk in a very dense rain forest, a journey through a huge impenetrable pristine forest, a visit to a coffee plantation and to where hand carts – a Costa Rica speciality – are made. As we drove through the countryside, we gained such insight into the locals’ livelihood through the vast banana and pineapple plantations, schools, houses.

Costa Rica lived up to its promise. It was small enough to travel around intimately, yet so often primeval in its landscape and creatures – a perfect destination.  The people were very friendly too.

Jesus Christ lizard

Jesus Christ lizard

We looked at various operators and paid a little more for Cox & Kings, but it was so worthwhile. Efficiency, good accommodation, safe comfortable travel and our guide was first-rate.

We have wonderful memories and saw dazzling wildlife.

Philip travelled on Cox & Kings’ Natural Splendours of Costa Rica group tour, visiting San Jose and the north of Costa Rica, including Tortuguero, Caño Negro, Arenal and Monteverde. This itinerary can also be organised on a private basis. Please speak to our Central America team to find out more.

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