Thursday, November 25, 2010

Manuel Antonio National Park

Today we took a 15 minute bus ride to Manuel Antonio, a small tourist town at the edge of the National Park of the same name.
Having paid our $10 to gain entrance to the park, we then also clubbed together (5 times $10 each) to pay for a guide to show us round on a 2 1/2 hour tour. We definitely swa more wildlife than if we hadn't have had a guide - he also carried a spotter scope which was worth it's weight in gold.

The highlight for me was seeing (and being able to photograph) this Laughing Falcon. We also saw a humming bird sat on its nest. Sadly though when we returned the following day the nest had gone - a sign of the effects of occasional irresponsible tourism.

We also saw lots of monkeys, though in reality they are so tame as to be a pest, as are the racoons.

After the walk, I took the opportunity to swim for an hour or so in the Pacific breakers before heading into town for some lunch. I then caught the bus back Quepos for a bit of shopping and a lazy late afternoon.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Down from the hills

Today saw us leaving the Cloud Forests of Monteverde and head out of the cool dampness to the hot and humid Western (Pacific) coast.

We had chartered a mini-bus today as the public bus left at a thoroughly undesirable 4.00am. Before we got on board, we saw our last local wildlife across the road - a woodpecker of some description.

As soon as we left Santa Elena the road became unpaved and remained so for the next hour or so - the bumps were punctuated by the most stunning scenery.

We lunched in Jaco, a tourist town on the coast and eventually reached our next accommodation in the mid-afternoon, just outside Quepos. Some in the group thought the accommodation was a little below par, but for three nights I thought it was OK, if a little disappointing for our final main destination of the holiday.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I forgot to mention that last night, as it was getting dark, I went for an organised night hike in the forest.

We did see a bit - a Porcupine up in a tree, a rather large Red Kneed Tarantula, a couple of tiny frogs and some birds asleep in the trees. The main thing to remember though was that throughout the 90 minute walk there was a continuous torrential downpour. Fortunately I had proper walking boots on and was wearing appropriate waterproofs, unlike some of my fellow explorers.

Today was a fairly quiet day - I went for a walk back down to Monteverde where there is a large co-operative souvenir shop which is well worth a visit. I then walked back to Santa Elena for some lunch before visiting the Ranario Frog Pond.

Here there were many species of frogs, mostly tiny, in fairly large terraria. Thanks to my guide I did manage to see each species on offer. When I re-visited for my after dark free re-entry (self-guided) later, my frog spotting was much worse.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Up In The Trees

Today a few of us went to experience the 'Hanging Bridges' tree-top canopy walk at Selvatura, about 7 KM North of Santa Elena.

We were picked up from our hotel just before 8.00 am. After picking up some other people, we headed up into the Cloud Forests.

The weather was good to us (ie it didn't rain) and so we managed to stretch out the 3 KM walk to tale 2 3/4 hours. Normally that would take some doing , but we thoroughly enjoyed investigating all the the forest trail offered to us to see.

The bridges themselves were eight sturdy structures. All were solid suspension bridges - I do not like heights, yet found crossing. The bridges absolutely fine. Some were very long (over 200M / 600 ft) and most were so high up over the tree tops that one couldn't tell how far it was to the ground.

Following a quick coffee & cake, we then paid a further $5 each (on top of the $25 already paid for the Hanging Bridges), to visit the Humming Birsd garden.

Without doubt the best $5 spent all holiday. I will post some pictures when I get home.

Once dropped off near the hotel, I then walked Towards Monteverde proper. By that, I mean the site of the original Quaker settlement - the main town is actually Santa Elena.

I had a yummy lunch at the Paso de Stella visitor centre and fleetingly called into The Monteverde Cheese Factory shop.

A busy day.

Sent from my iPhone (some days later).

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Bumpy Road

We were picked up from our hotel shortly after 7.30 am to begin our journey to Monteverde.

The day was billed as 'Jeep-Boat-Jeep', but for each Jeep read 'Mini-Van'.

A 20 minute journey to the shore of Lake Arenal saw us board a small ferry boat that was to transport us across the lake.

Laguna de Arenal is a man made lake. The principal dam contains a hydro-electric plant that produces 40% of Costa Rica's electricity. Just 5% of the country's electricity is produced using fossil fuel, referee to as 'Dirty Electricity'.

The lake crossing saw many birds, including Ospreys and a Kingfisher.

We then took a very bunny and unlaced road, for a couple of hours, to Monteverde, where we are to stay for three nights. This afternoon was spent wandering around Santa Elena.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Volcano & Hot Springs

This morning was spent walking around La Fortuna and catching up on postcards etc.

A quick lunch at Soda La Parada (lots of locals on a Saturday lunchtime), then back to the Hotel San Bosco. From there, six of us were picked up by Aventuras Arenal for our trip to Volcano Adrenal.

After picking up a few more tourists, we traveled less than seven miles into the National Park. We parked and, having split into two groups, walked up to a viewing station to get some fantastic views of the volcano. The top wascovered in could, which is apparently the norm.

We then did a short circular walk which took us a bit higher. We also saw a Howler Monkey, plenty of birds and some unusual orchids.

After returning to the minibus, we were then taken to the Eco-Termales hot spring complex and left for an hour and a half of the most glorious relaxation. Thoroughly recommended.

We were then taken to the Volcano Springs restaurant for a meal. The only good thing about it was that it was included in the cost of the excursion.

All in all, a good day.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Towards the Volcano

Another two buses today. The first was to Ciudad Quesada (San Carlos), where we were unable to get on our planned bus.

So, after an extra 45 minute wait, we all managed to board a local bus service to La Fortuna.

La Fortuna is a tourist town that has developed since the sudden explosion of 'Volcan Arenal' on 29 July 1968. It is totally unlike any other place we have visited since arriving in Costa Rica, however it is still pleasant enough.

Tourist town meant my last satisfactory evening meal so far. A deep sleep beckons

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Few Bus Rides

Today saw us leaving Cahuita on the 8 o'clock bus, heading for Puerto Limon. The journey took about an hour. For much of the time the road followed the never ending string of beaches along the coast.

Puerto Limon is Costa Rica's principal port on the Eastern seaboard. This means that the local economy appears to depend on the container port / ship trade, along with that of visiting cruise ships.

After 3/4 of an hour and a short stroll to a different bus station to the one at which we had arrived, bus number two set off for Guapiles.

A quick change of buses saw us on the final stretch of the day to Puerto Viejo De Sarapiqui. There we crammed into a number of taxis for the short journey to the El Gavilan Lodge.

The lodge is set in fabulous grounds next to the Rio Sarapiqui. We took a boat trip after lunch and saw some fabulous birds as well as other wildlife.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Slothful Day

Today we went to a Sloth Sanctuary. It was very interesting, though the animals did lack a little pace! Sorry.

Then, after lunch, back to the beach for another final linger in the Carribean before heading inland tomorrow.

I´ll post some pictures when I get home but don´t currently have that technology.

Still chillin´.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Strolling along the coast

Nothing on the agenda today, so after breakfast I set off on a longer than exected walk into the Cahuita National Park (yes, I am in Costa Rica).

Saw loads of wildlife, walked round some headlands and came across the most stunning beach. You know, like a picture postcard. White sand, Azure blue sea, like swimming in a bath. Luvverly.

Evening was a please enough meal at a local bar and then a relatively early night to shake off the last of the jet lag.

This sure beats London in November!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Leisurely start to the day

Breakfast today was  from 6.00am, but on the basis that we  weren´t leaving until after 9.00am,  most people emerged from their jet-lag at about 7.00am.

A beautiful day, the morning of which was spent on a public bus traveling through lush hills and banana plantations. We then reached the coast and ended up in a small village, heavy on reggae and an extraordinary laid back feel. Now just chillin!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A long day

This morning the taxi came at 7.00am to pick me up to take me to Heathrow.

I caught a mid morning flight to Texas, where I then spent 3 1/2 hours on the ground  before  catching another flight to central America. Total time traveling: 21 Hours. Time spent in hotel room before falling asleep: 10 minutes.

Hopefully some interesting days to come.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Route 18 is fifth in London to banish bendy buses

I use the number 18 quite a lot.

Whatever the spin (and it is drivel), my journeys will now be worse.

Traveling along the Euston and Marylebone Roads (long and straight) on a bendy bus (long and straight), with three sets of doors to get on and off, has been really quite painless. Given a choice of buses, the bendy bus has had my preference on this route.

It's early on the first day of the new double deckers - I may nip along later to check them out. I want to dislike them. Boris should be focusing on more important things.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Somebody is in for a telling off

This evening's 19.37 Chiltern Railways service from London Marylebone to Aylesbury was terminated early at South Ruislip due to 'a train failure'.

My understanding is that 'a train failure' should more accurately read 'running out of fuel'. Oops.