Costa Rica is the happiest place on earth, according to the Happy Planet index. A statement that Llama Travel’s Travel Consultant Marianela, who has just come back from a 14 day trip to Costa Rica, is not about to contradict. From the dizzying heights of the Monteverde skywalks, to the dense jungles of Tortuguero and the calm flowing waters of the Tabacon Hot Springs, Marianela has put together her top 5 list of what makes Costa Rica such a blissful country to visit.
One of the most incredible places I have ever been! I have to say, I wouldn’t have considered myself a jungle person. The idea of sleeping in jungle accommodation and making the beasties and bugs my best friends did not appeal to me at all. There is just something so captivating about the jungles of Tortuguero, brimming with lush vegetation and wildlife. The best way to explore the national park is by boat. If you are lucky like I was, you can even spot the sinister eyes of a Caiman peering out from the water. The grounds of the lodges in Tortuguero are full of surprises so if you feel adventurous, you can wonder around the forest that surrounds it, where you are likely to see toucans, frogs and monkeys.
Tabacon Hot Springs
Spending a couple of hours submerged in the natural volcanic waters of the Tabacon Hot Springs is one of life’s true pleasures. Upon arrival you can see the steam that comes from the pools even from outside of the complex. The springs themselves are located on the hill of the property and are surrounded by vegetation. The ponds at the bottom of the hill are always the busiest ones, so if you are looking for privacy, walk further up and you will find the pools at the top of the property are virtually empty and beautifully secluded from the crowds. Each pool has a different temperature, I suggest to start from the hottest and end in the coolest pond. It is believed that the waters have medicinal properties, and help improve your circulation.
Monteverde Cloud Forest at night
Visiting the Cloud Forest at night time is especially exciting because a lot of the animals that inhabit the cloud forest are nocturnal. The forest becomes alive at night, pulsating with strange noises and the sense that the most outlandish creatures might wander from the foliage and cross your path. The trails at the Monteverde Cloud Forest are well preserved and the local guides are experts at spotting animals. Flashlights are provided upon arrival to the reserve. Among the animals that tourists are likely to spot at night time are snakes, spiders (especially tarantulas), coatimundis, a sleepy sloth, a wide-eyed kinkajou, an armadillo and bats.
Home of some of the largest inactive craters in the world, Poas Volcano is one of the most visited sites in Costa Rica. The scenery and views around the area are splendid, and a clear view of the crater is a magnificent sight to behold. A walk to the Botos Lagoon is also a very scenic addition to the Paos Volcano. You are allowed at the viewpoint not more than 20 minutes due to smoke and fumaroles still coming out of its crater.
A great opportunity to appreciate the cloud forest from a different perspective. The Sky Walk is a series of suspension bridges that start from the ground and take you high above the tree tops. The walk itself is a lovely nature walk where you will be able to appreciate a lot of plants and trees. Exotic flowers, a crow of coatis and huge ceibo trees make the walk particularly interesting. Our guide provided us with information about the forest and the efforts of the Costa Rican government to preserve it. Once you reach the highest bridge the different colours of the forest will take your breath away.
If you have been inspired by Marianela’s adventures in Costa Rica, you can take a look at our Best of Costa Rica program here, which includes three nights in the Costa Rican capital of San Jose, two nights amongst the jungle waterways of Tortuguero, two nights in Arenal under the shadow of the famous volcano, and two nights in Monteverde, home to the spectacularly bio diverse cloud forest. You also have the option to finish your holiday in style at either (or both) the stunningly beautiful beaches of Manuel Antonio or the exotic coastlines of Corcovado national park.