Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Me Gustaria Rios Con Cataratas

This past Holiday Season, my family finally made good on a few years of talking with a quick trip to Costa Rica. The tropics were a welcome respite from the crummy weather that has settled in over the Northwest (Paddling in a T-shirt!). We managed to visit most of the hot spots around the country, with hoards of other tourists, such as Volcan Arenal, Monteverde, and Manuel Antonio. After my mom and sister headed back north, my girlfriend the dedicated photographer and skilled translator, Amy Keeling, and I met up with fellow Northwesterners Ethan and Ashley for a few more days of boating and surfing.

It may take a few days to gather all of the images from folks on the trip, but here are a few travel pointers we thought we would share:


Cortez Azul, Alajuela, ~$10/p/n
If you fly into San Jose, you'll want to stay in Alajuela (much closer to the airport, and more fun to say). If you stay in Alajuela, Cortez Azul is a clean, cheap, funky little oasis for the weary traveler. The owner Eduardo is kind and helpful, and his dog, Milagro, has a great smile.

Hotel Interamericano, Turrialba, ~$20/d
Turrialba is a great basecamp for paddling the Rio Pacuare and Reventazon in eastern Costa Rica, and the Hotel Interamericano seems to be the preferred paddling bunk. The place is pretty cheap, the owner Patricia is blunt and cooks a great breakfast, and there is an open-air, secure basement for storing wet gear and boats.

Rancho Leona, La Virgen de Sarapiqui, ~$10/p/n
La Virgen is another great kayaking destination, with easy access to the Rio Sarapiqui, Rio Toro, and La Catarata Pozo Azul (waterfall on cover of the guide book). Local guide Miti has boats for rent and is super cool. Rancho Leona is an organic, rambling structure that is simultaneously open to the jungle and comfortably cozy. You can walk to the river from the back porch/sauna, and super friendly Leona will make you breakfast (~$4) and dinner(~$7). Plus, the water is magic.

Gringo Pete's, La Fortuna, ~$4/p/n
Fortuna isn't really a paddling destination, but active volcanoes are pretty cool. Gringo Pete's is cheap, clean, and informative. Lots of those backpacker types. Ask around for the cheaper hot springs; places like Tabacon look like Disneyland and charge ~$45/p to use their tubs. We found a nice little place with hot mineral water for $6/p.


Work on your Spanish, so you can avoid saying embarrassing things, such as "Tiene usted dos damas para quatro personas?," when inquiring at the hotel.

Support Fair Trade cooperative coffee growers in Monteverde and learn tons by joining in on one of the tours of the Cafe Monteverde operation.

Be wary at the ferry on the way to the Nicoya Peninsula.

Banco Nacional ATMs probably won't accept your debit card.

Don't leave ANYTHING in your car, even wet paddling clothes and muddy tennis shoes.

Inspect the bathroom BEFORE deciding to order the sketchier items on the menu.

Enjoy the monkeys, and pics.

On the way to the lower Rio Pacuare (III-IV).

Family rafting on the Rio Pacuare.

Amy, and a much too bony 30 footer near Volcan Arenal.

My sister and Volcan Arenal.

View near Monteverde.

Ethan, Ashley, and a very comfortable coatimundi, Rincon de la Vieja National Park (a good reason not to feed the animals).

Ethan, Recreo Verde section Rio Toro (III-IV).
Amy and Fluffy, Artemis Cafe, Mal Pais.

No comments: