When I showed Dan the small Caravan Tours ad in Real Simple magazine, he immediately began reading dozens of glowing Trip Advisor reviews and, within the hour, we began our way through the booking process for our Costa Rica tour vacation.
This would be our first group tour since we like to explore on our own, talk to people, and make spontaneous decisions about what to do next. But this would be an extra trip that year and the value was too good to pass up! There’s no way that you can match the high-volume discounts that Caravan Tours receives.
New Photo Challenge
The 9 days were packed with activities and filled with information from our knowledgeable and entertaining guide, Rolando. Rolando was one of the highlights of the trip, teaching us about Costa Rican history and culture, spotting animals and arranging for all of our needs, while making us laugh the entire time! Rolando is a Tico (Costa Rican) but speaks flawless English!
I won’t write about every single thing we saw, just the best parts… Costa Rica tourism offers a lot
Poás Volcano and the Escalonia Cloud Forest
Rolando brought us to the mouth of the volcano, an elevation of 2,574 meters (8,860 feet). Poás Volcano is sulphuric, so that means there’s no lava. These sulphuric gases you see cause acid rain. You cannot stay here for too long.
The volcano was temporarily closed in 2017 due to volcanic eruptions.
Poás is next to the Escalonia Cloud Forest, where we got to explore on our own. A cloud forest is like a rain forest, but it’s high in humidity with much less rainfall than a rain forest. The walk was perfect to unwind from work stress.
Doka Estate Coffee Plantation
Poás is also a region of quality coffee production, so our next stop was the Doka Estate coffee plantation. Here we learned about the region’s coffee production and this plantation’s process of growing the coffee beans and producing high quality coffee.
The guide explained how some countries opt to produce high quantities/low quality and others opt for low quantities/high quality. Costa Rica’s coffee is high quality.
We arrived at the town of La Fortuna near Arenal volcano, just in time for lunch and some free time in town. We ate and then headed straight for the supermarket, one of our favorite things to visit wherever we go!
Moving To Costa Rica
Many Americans, Canadians, Europeans and Austrailians have moved to Costa Rica for its simple, slow lifestyle, beautiful landscapes and its low-cost living. Rolando even told the group the income required and the paperwork that needs to be done to become a legal resident. Costa Rica is on our list of possible places to live.
Arenal Manoa Hotel and Crossing an Alligator Swamp In The Dark
Everyone was excited to see how beautiful the hotel was! Each cabin had a patio and a view of the volcano.
I had been teasing Dan, telling him there would be flying ants at dinner. Once at a hotel on Margarita Island in Venezuela, flying ants swooped onto our plates as soon as the waiter set them down on the table. I was comfortable just pushing them off with my knife with each bite, but Dan couldn’t eat a thing that night.
I teased him but he had his revenge… fast! The restaurant was a ten-minute walk along a dark path. We used Dan’s iPhone flashlight to see where we were going and to make sure we wouldn’t fall off the bridge into an alligator swamp.
If you’ve followed my blog for a while or my Instagram, you know that the one thing I’m terrified of is frogs. As we were walking to dinner, Dan shined his flashlight and illuminated several frogs in our path! We made it passed the frogs and across a bridge, over what looked like it could be an alligator swamp. The restaurant had a full buffet ready for us and it was delicious! Luckily, there were no flying ants at the restaurant.
Bed(time) & Breakfast
When we turned out the lights to sleep, there was total darkness and we could hear the symphony of animals outside. We slept very well that night, until the alarm went off.
We headed for breakfast early. In the morning light, we could see that the “alligator swamp” was really just a stream…
We wanted enough time to eat breakfast and make sure we were fully packed for the next adventure. We remembered how Rolando had explained to all of us the difference between a tourist and a hitchhiker (“5 minutes” 😮 meaning, “Don’t be late!”). This next day turned out to be a lot of fun, full of adventure as we headed up the river into Nicaragua and found ourselves in the middle of an international border dispute and later enjoyed the most beautiful volcanic hot springs I could ever imagine!
Continue to Part 2
- Will everyone make it back from the river cruise into Nicaragua, right in the middle of an international border dispute?!
- Relaxing in the volcanic hot springs at the base of Arenal volcano
- Enjoying luxury and drunkenness… in Costa Rica???
- And more…