Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Suggested Off-the-Beaten-Track itinerary for Nature Lovers in Costa Rica

If staying only a week or two in Costa Rica, the ideal would be to visit either the East or the West side of the country.

Suggested Tour of the Eastern Costa Rica:

Day 1: Arrival in San Jose--if arriving late it's best to stay at a hotel in Alajuela, a nice colonial style town about 5 min from airport. My friend Pierre owns a guesthouse there called Hotel el Tucan.

Day 2: Visit the town and its central market. Then you can rent a car form a number of companies we suggest.

Days 2-7: Bypass the urban jungle of San José and drive the road rated the most beautiful and scenic of all Costa Rica to Turrialba, a charming town nestled amongst coffee plantations midway between San José and the Caribbean coast. This part of the country is also known as the cheese center of Costa Rica. It also boasts two beautiful volcanoes. Our farm, Los Pinitos, is located right before Turrialba On our farm you can rent a nice bamboo framed tent with its own bathroom attached. A large open kitchen fully furnished is available to use. The price is $50/night double occupancy.

There are a number of very interesting activities to do in this area:

• Visit the Turrialba or Irazu volcano while picnicking on delicious local cheeses
• The Guayabo national monument and rain forest
• The beautiful lush Orosi valley and the Cartago basilica
• Kayak on the Payibaye river
• River rafting on the scenic Pacuare River
• Visit the lovely CATIE botanical garden, home of the largest coffee and cacao collections in the world
• Biking/Mountain Biking
• Have a nice picnic on the biggest coffee farm in Costa Rica and enjoy a huge waterfall known only by the locals
• Have lunch with with a typical Costa Rican farming family and see their biodigestor and go horseback riding on their farm
• Canyoning and ziplining
• And for those who have the time, why not take Spanish lessons?

Days 7-10: Head to the Atlantic (Caribbean) Coast, where you will find the most beautiful beaches of Costa Rica. The road along the coast is lush and palm-tree-lined with the sea as a backdrop.
The sleepy Caribbean towns of Puerto Viejo and Cahuita will transport you to Jamaica. These towns have not been touched by big developers because of protective environmental laws that apply to them

Puerto Viejo is a quiet surfer town with delicious Jamaican and Caribbean-style food. The local population, many of which emigrated from jamaica to work on the banana plantations in the 1800s, still speak English well.

We can recommend a villa just outside of Puerto Viejo which is just across the dirt road from the most beautiful beach here. It is also lined with trees and secluded. From there one can visit the Cahuita National Park, with it's beautiful long stretch of white-sand beach. While hiking along the beach one can see a lot of interesting wildlife (monkeys, sloths, etc.) You can also snorkel on the coral reef.

If you prefer a little less seclusion, you may want to stay in the town of Puerto VIejo. In Puerto Viejo there are a lot of things to do, as well. You can go kayaking along a lush river to an indigenous reserve; surf; visit the gandoca wildlife refuge; and many other fun things.
While on the coast, the ideal would be to visit on of the gems of natural Costa Rica: Tortuguero National Park and its canals. You can make a reservation at Puerto Viejo’s office of tourism.

After Tortuguero you may wish to take the aerial tram of the Braulio Carillo Park on your way back toward San José.

Departure Day: Head back to San José, possibly the day before, depending on your flight time.

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