Costa Rica is well known worldwide to be one of the greenest countries, and one of the best places for Ecotourism. On my first trip to Costa Rica, I arrived with some expectations that were formed by what I had previously heard and learnt of this country. As I discovered various regions of Costa Rica, I was surprised by how some of my expectations were erroneous. I was happy to be able to see this country with new eyes, with my own eyes, instead of dreaming about it from afar.
It has always amazed me how many volcanoes could ‘fit’ in such a small country! In fact, Costa Rica is home to six active volcanoes and another 61 dormant or extinct ones. Even so, I had imagined Costa Rica to be quite flat. It didn’t take long for me to realise that I was wrong, from the plane I could see an infinity of valleys and hills covering the region around San Jose – such an amazing view.
I also thought Costa Rica to be mostly jungle all around… another false assumption! This country has SO many unique ecosystems! On my second day, I travelled from San Jose to Tortuguero on the Caribbean side, and passed by at least 5 different types of landscapes. Leaving San Jose, it was quite dry and hilly, and we climbed up a mountainous road with the bus to get to a Cloud Forest where fog was condensing at the top of the mountain. This was our highest point that day. We began descending towards the Caribbean coast and as we were losing altitude, we passed through a Tropical Rainforest with such dense vegetation. As we arrived to Tortuguero, the surroundings were green but less dense. We took a boat to arrive to our final destination and the landscapes were swamp-like. Crossing the river from our lodge, we were face to face with the open sea. In just half a day we got to see a wide variety of ecosystems and feel different climates.
Another thing that impressed me is the small size of Costa Rica but the long durations to get from one destination to the next! It is such a small country that you would not imagine having to travel such long distances. The hilly terrain has to do with this, making the roads curvy and sometimes being confronted to unpaved roads. For example around Monteverde, you travel along steep dirt roads. Needless to say, the travels take longer, so patience is a must.
It was also nice to discover their passion for football (Costa Rica did get up to the Quarter-Finals in the 2014 World Cup, beating Italy and Greece along the way) and the importance of the Catholic religion for ‘Ticos’. In every small village we passed, even in very remote places, you would be sure to see at least 1 football court and 1 church. It also took me some time to adapt to the local currency: 500 colones for 1 dollar. You would pay for drinks or snacks giving thousands of colones, quite confusing at first!
Overall, I had an amazing trip with Bamba Experience ‘re’-discovering what I thought I knew about Costa Rica. Going from one beautiful landscape to the next: from the swamps of Tortuguero, to the foggy Arenal Volcano, and the dry Cloud Forest of Monteverde back to the capital, San Jose.
Discover Costa Rica’s vast diversity on one of Bamba Experience’s trips: