Thursday, December 10, 2009

Trip to Costa Rica - 5 Villa Caletas and Pacific Ocean

We have made it back to Massachusetts after a wonderful trip that included an avoidance of Montezuma’s revenge.  Our last stay was on the Pacific coast in my favorite hotel / resort of all time.  The Villa Caletas,  was opened in 1992 and resembles an ancient Spanish Villa perched on a high ridge with stone work and buildings climbing up, down and along the ridge.  It  overlooks a rain forest that drops precipitously to the blue waters of the Pacific.  Each room has a different motif with most being individual villas, some with their own Jacuzzis. Ours was one of four in the main building.   Coming back from a hike we found two elephants on our bed with red flowers everywhere.


The plantings of flowers, bushes and trees wrapped the buildings in a colorful blanket.  There were many steps,  twists and turns on the paths that wandered around the resort.  This is no place for physically challenged individuals.  Our room had a spectacular view with trees nearby than housed Toucans, scarlet Macaws ,  hummingbirds, butterflies, bromeliads, and a slow moving iguana that hung out on a dead branch just beyond the edge of our balcony.  I never figured out whether it was looking for lunch or just getting a few rays.  Other wildlife observed during this section of the trip included crocodiles, Agoutis, howler and spider monkeys, two toed sloths, leaf cutter ants, really big spiders, kingfishers, herons, spoonbills and many other birds.    


This part of the trip included yet another personally guided hike through the rain forest with one section containing a plant that put me in a sneezing fit on the way out and on the way back.  I never figured out which vile plant caused this distress.  In the afternoon I took an ATV excursion on back roads, main highways, deep streams and the beach.  We actually saw some wildlife that included two Toucans in a one Toucan tree.  There was quite a kerfuffle.  These vehicles can go through very rough terrain with our having to put our feet on the fenders so that when crossing deep water the steam from the partially submerged engines would not burn our legs.  We used only 4th and 5th gears.  The road to the hotel was very narrow and winding.  Although it was sad to leave the Villa Caletas, I was happy to have made it down the road again without tumbling a thousand feet down the side of the ridge.


Our drive back to San Jose was over narrow mountain roads that provided spectacular views and some white knuckle driving.  Next year the interstate that avoids this should be completed.  I think I would take the old route.


On the way to the Villas Caletas we stopped for lunch at a roadside restaurant and encountered the following:


All the best




We encountered these Xylophone players at a restaurant / bar near Bahia de Caldera / Bahia de Barranca Costa Rica. Their bar included saddles to help you stay upright after too may margaritas.



Costa Rica - 4 Areal volcano and Tabacon resort

Costa Rica has one of the world’s most active volcanoes, Areal. We stayed at the 5 star Tabacon hotel and Spa that included a 42 inch flat screen in our room. The Spa was something very special. It was a garden filled with tropical plants and two streams that wandered down the hill through the foliage. One was warm and the other hot with numerous pools for soaking and several waterfalls for sitting under. They ended in a large pool with a bar and water flowing into additional smaller pools. A very good restaurant overlooked the pool. We were in the water until we wrinkled. Tropical plants were everywhere.

We also enjoyed a hike up the mountain to through a rain forest to a lava field. We could almost see the top and did hear it erupt. This volcano seems to throw out a lot a rocks in addition to lava. In the evening we ate at a restaurant with a panoramic view of the mountain and the man- made lake Areal. It is a major source of hydroelectric power and reminded me of lake Como in Italy as it was long and nestled between the mountains. The next day was bright and clear and as we drove south to the Villas Caletes on the Pacific ocean we had a very clear view of the mountain with steam emanating from the caldera.

More later.

Trip to Costa Rica - 3

We are now at the Tabacon resort near the Areal active volcano about to hike the rain forest in the rain.

I have posted a video of our horseback riding, zip lining, swimming and butterfly watching at the Sueno Azul resort two days ago on YouTube at the link listed below.

Trip to Costa Rica - 2 Sueno Azul resort in Costa Rica


Yesterday we took a 2 hr boat ride on a river that paralleled the carribean shore and then turned inland to a dock where we loaded into a bus. It was another ride on a bumpy road through farms and banana plantations to a main road. We then had lunch and left the bus for our rental car. I signed a lot of papers and hopefully none will come back to bite me. The Costa Rica chip for my Garmin GPS worked well and took us right to the Sueno Azul resort. The final mile of this journey was over two rickety suspension bridges that were just wide enough for the shoe sized care we rented to fit through. The resort is in the jungle boarded on one side and by the juncture of two rivers on the other side. Our room looks into the jungle across a pond with many bird and one large brown Iguana on top of a tree. This resort was recommended by the horse trainer Paul Stirberry of Southern Pines. He gives clinics here in February. This morning we rode horses through the jungle to a Zip Line area and zipped through the tree tops on eight different lines. You sort of zip from one platform to another. Then we walked a short distance to a series of waterfalls that end in a very large pool with a water slide. After an hour’s swim we went to a butterfly garden with then flying all around us. In Costa Rica they have a large butterfly with bright blue wings and others whose wings look like a owl or snake to dissuade predators. After the butterfly exhibit Wendy road back and Carl because of hip problems road back in a truck with the crew. The horse was a lot smoother. Wendy and a worker who didn’t speak English seemed to gallop most of the way back. We had a great lunch overlooking the pool and rivers followed by a lot of just lounging about.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Trip to Costa Rica - 1

We have made it to Costa Rica flying in on Nov 22nd. We had to catch a bus for a trip from the capital over the continental divide through the impressive mountain rain forest to the plain leading to the Caribbean. We toured a banana plantation and saw a lot of small farms including those with horses. Then we boarded an open boat for a trip to the shore and the Hotel Pachira Lodge near the Tortuguero national park for the preservation of sea turtles among other wildlife. The only way to this lodge is by boat or plane. We have taken a couple of boat tours into the jungle seeing much wildlife since being here. On the shore Wendy protected a young turtle hatchling from a local dog and we all watched it scamper to the shore and into the water. Good luck turtle. Only 2% survive. We also took a walk through the jungle that required rubber boots supplied by the lodge. They were needed but we saw a number of monkeys (howler and spider) among other wildlife. There also has been significant swimming, drinking and eating. Tomorrow we hop in the boat again for a two hour ride to a bus and then to a rental car office. I brought my GPS with special maps for Costa Rica and hopefully it will all work. None of the resorts we are visiting have a street address. That makes sense for the current resort as there are no roads anyway. We will drive to Hotel Hacienda Sueño Azul Resort, in Sarapiquí. a friend of ours Paul Striberry from Southern Pines gives riding clinics at this resort but will probably not be there during our stay.