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Costa Rica: And even more paradise

We continue through the mountains towards the Pacific coast. Always like in a botanical garden: everything is blooming and sprouting, everything is beautifully laid out, as if someone had designed the paradise garden with a master plan – maybe that’s how it was. But before we reach the sea, there are still a few driving challenges to overcome. The small road down to San Gerardo on the edge of the Quetzal National Park is tough: although it is mostly asphalted, it has – for the size of our vehicle – very narrow serpentines, a very narrow bridge and low-hanging power cables. In this respect, it is important to constantly assess all three dimensions when driving. Opportunities to turn around and therefore options for an orderly retreat are rare and so all that remains is to look forward (and of course to the side and upwards😉). At the bottom of the valley, we are rewarded for these challenges: a great hike through a wild and totally lonely valley to two great waterfalls (where we have to climb over rusty suspension bridges), a beautifully landscaped bird watching spot (even with chilled drinks and WiFi) and a very nice restaurant with very good, freshly caught trout. Wonderful, an absolutely great valley and, due to its remote location, still pleasantly untouristy!

The Pacific welcomes us again with a hot, humid climate. The midday hike in the blazing sun along the impressive whale fin headland in Marino Ballena National Park doesn’t necessarily help with acclimatization, but you can only visit it at low tide and we’re just here right now.

We thought for a long time if we should travel to the Osa Peninsula in the very south-east of Costa Rica on the Pacific coast – as it is a bit away from our planned route with a border crossing to Panama on the Caribbean side. You also have to drive back again the same route over the mountains at an altitude of 3,400 meters (which we always hate to do). But we haven’t regretted it for a second: There is an unplanned German/Swiss overlander meeting at Playa Blanca. When we drive to the beach of „Playa Blanca“, Tanja and Gunnar are already there with their MAN Baloo (www.3weltreisen.de) and Jacqueline and Bruno with their Iveco Mobelix. Anja and Bernhard, who we met just after entering the border from Nicaragua, join us the next day and we spend a few nice days together. However, our conversations are repeatedly disrupted by the numerous but beautiful macaws screaming loudly in the trees above us 😉.

A great place, but the Osa Peninsula offers much more! We drive over a great jungle road over to the other side of the peninsula to Drake Bay and hike from the nearby dream beach “Playa Rincon” in both directions along the coast. Monkeys, raccoons and countless birds are our companions and it is wonderful to see how the jungle directly borders the sea on the coastline, which is interspersed with many volcanic rocks. Once again, it’s surprisingly untouristy here – so they do exist… these places in the Costa Rican paradise!

Unfortunately, our hike with a guide in the “Corcovado” National Park, which has already been postponed several times, doesn’t happen again: Karin has eye problems after a small fall and – after a short phone call with the father of a friend, who was an ophthalmologist in Germany – we follow his advice to see a specialist asap. Since there is of course no such specialist anywhere in this wilderness, we head back from the peninsula to the civilization of Cartago near San José, the capital. However, the highly professional doctor couldn’t find anything of concern (just sooty rain caused by the fall, which should disappear after a few weeks) … we could have stayed in paradise longer if we had known!

So, we go down to the sea again (Costa Rica is not big and you always have the choice between cool mountains and hot, humid coasts) – this time to the Caribbean side. We have arranged to meet Anja and Bernhard there and want to go on an excursion to the “Tortuguero” National Park together. However, this can only be reached by plane or boat and so the next morning we take a small long boat along the densely overgrown Rio Suerte to the village of Tortuguero, where we also spend a night. The boat ride in itself is an experience and with our guide there we see great animals both on a night hike and on our kayak tour the next morning. Although not normally our thing, you can see a lot more of the small animals that are prevalent in Costa Rica with a guide and so we finally get to see a toucan that is easy to photograph, a sloth and a porcupine hanging on a power line (we rarely have one seen such an ugly animal).

We continue along the Caribbean coast towards the southeast. The Cahuita National Park is a highlight: a 4-hour hike takes us to beautiful Caribbean beaches lined with the deepest jungle, to two headlands and almost endless board walks. Of course, we are at the start when the park opens at 7:00 a.m. and can enjoy a large part of the hike alone with the animals… before unfortunately the tourist buses spit out their passengers later in the morning!

After these eventful days we need some rest! We find this at Punta Uva just before the Panama border: dream beaches with great parking spaces even for large expedition vehicles, that also meet Karin’s highest requirements and so we relax and reflect on our intense impressions of Costa Rica, write this blog and prepare for our last travel destination on this stage – Panama!

One comment

  1. superbe, comme dab

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