Flying from London to San Jose for my first visit to Costa Rica felt like a pretty big journey. After some movies on the plane and some impatient moments though, my friend and I made it. Walking out of the airport at San Jose, the heat and humidity hit us and we couldn’t have been happier for it. No winter coats. No heavy shoes. We were really here.
If you haven’t been to San Jose before, you’d probably be surprised by the city. It’s busy – like really busy. People are everywhere, in squares, parks, along pedestrian promenades. There’s music playing everywhere and people seem light and look as if they enjoy living there. We checked in to our hotel and went to the pool to drink some cold beer.
That evening, we met our tour leader, (or CEO – Chief Experience Officer.) Her name was Cat and we liked her immediately – a very cool Canadian girl fluent in Spanish and gifted with warmth and openness. We also met the rest of our group when we all sat down together so Cat could tell us about the coming days before heading out to dinner at a very cool little place with amazing food. We then went to a bar called Mundo Loco that had live music and cheap beer. What more could you want out of a night in San Jose?
The next morning, we were picked up early to start the day white water rafting. I’d never done it before so I was a bit nervous but our main guide Luis made me feel better about it. He explained the commands to our group and what to expect and then we were off. Immediately we were soaked and I think immediately, I was one of the happiest people in all of Costa Rica! We laughed and screamed while we paddled and I never wanted it to end.
After a great lunch and lots more laughter, we continued down the river to the town of La Fortuna, where our rafting guides served us some cocktails and congratulated us on the great ride. As if the day couldn’t have gotten any better, we were then led to the foot of the Arenal volcano so we could relax in the natural hot springs there. We were in total bliss – exhausted, happy and proud of ourselves and of our new friends we were now getting to know quite well.
After dinner in La Fortuna that evening, we headed out for some fun at a couple of the bars in town. The following day saw us at the foot of Arenal again, hiking to see a stunning waterfall. We loved this area of the country. The people were so lovely and helpful, and we felt like we made so many friends who made us feel like we were part of the community.
We then went on to the tiny town of Monteverde for a tour of the amazing coffee plantation there, as well as the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve. There we tried ziplining because, we were in Costa Rica, after all. My friend and I were a bit nervous because the perch from where you begin ziplining was much higher than we thought it would be. Once I let go and went for it though, I had such a feeling of freedom and accomplishment. It was the closest I’d ever come to flying.
The last two days of our trip were the perfect way to wind down. We travelled to the Pacific coast to the jaw-dropping Manuel Antonio National Park. This coastline is everything you could hope for out of a beach in Costa Rica. The sunlight is special here and the mist off the ocean creates the perfect backdrop to watch the surfers every day. In the park itself, we got to see sloths, iguanas, crocodiles, and so many monkeys. I started to think this lifestyle was definitely for me and wasn’t sure I wanted to ever leave.
Regular life calls your name though, and unfortunately, sometimes you have to respond. Our trip ended with another day in San Jose to have a bit more time in the city before having to say goodbye to our new friends from our group. We’d met these people only a week before, but we’d done so much with them that we felt close to them now. The things we’d done together – getting our adrenaline going, taking chances together – are things that bond people, bringing us closer together. We were so happy to be part of it all.
G Adventures runs a number of departures to Costa Rica encompassing a wide range of departure dates and activities to cater for different tastes. We’re thrilled at the prospect of showing you this big blue planet of ours — check out our small group trips here.