Pura Vida. This is the buzz phrase you will hear everywhere in Costa Rica, a phrase that reflects as much on the warm hospitable people there as it refers to everything that is good about life in this land of spectacular natural beauty.
Costa Rica offers something seductive for everyone - adventure, romance, lush rainforests, superb diving and surfing, beautiful beaches, awe-inspiring volcanoes and intimate hotels. Increasingly, its eco-tourism allure has widened to appeal to honeymooners and couples looking for a romantic getaway with a difference. Here is where you can indulge in solitude and nature or propel yourself into a broad range of adrenaline-charged sporting activity.
We could not resist this siren call to adventure in- an exotic locale. At beginning of March this year, thanks to the planning wizardry of Mauricio Aymerich, Marketing Director of Villa Caletas, my girlfriend Sandrine and I began our 10-day exploration of Costa Rica. As we were about to discover, this is not an easy country to fully appreciate in only 10 days.
Here are some highlights:
A little research convinced us that Poas and Irazu were the best bets for an up-close encounter as visitors could gaze into the main craters from viewing areas at the top of both volcanoes. The day after our arrival in San Jose, we drove past the sprawling Doka Coffee plantation and magnificent views of the surrounding countryside en route to the top of Poas.
The morning had dawned clear and cloudless, the perfect to view Volcan Poas, one of Costa Rica's many dormant giants. This is a volcano featuring the world's largest geyser-type crater with a rim measuring 1.5Km in circumference.
The very next day, we followed this with a trip up Irazu, the highest volcano in Costa Rica at 3,432 meters.
The sightly surreal lunar landscape on Irazu in the early morning light took on a mystical quality as we walked around. We found ourselves literally above the clouds, enjoying a little bit of tranquil beauty in a country that would offer us magical moments like this everyday.
Irazu, with its deep green principal crater, and Poas, with its ever budding sulphur pool, are magnetic draws for photographers, but they also offer wonderful ambiance for all visitors. Go early for the best light and to avoid crowds.
This vast and magnificent space, hailed as the jewel of Costa Rica national parks, is unfortunately also not the easiest place to get to from most of the country. It occupies a large tract of land in the southernmost part of Costa Rica and our journey there from our hotel near. Dominical involved a two-hour boat ride each way with a couple of boat transfers over rough ocean waters.
However, everyone whi went along on the ride (and there were roughly 26 of us that day) agreed it was well worth all the effort and more.
We made our initial foray into the northern edge of Corcovado and trekked througn the jungle for an hour and a half in the mid-day hear. Surprisingly we encountered more wildlife than is usually seen at that time of day.
We saw spider monkeys, scarlet macaws, white-nosed coatis, iguanas, gigantic spiders and amazing trees. This was Costa Rica at its glorious natural best. Any of the country's national parks is a not-to-be-missed experience for a travellers here.