Text and Pictures:
||I am a full time Wedding Coordinator, so you can imagine that
my weekends are quite busy from April through October. To catch up
on quality time with my husband Alan, we usually plan a vacation
around Thanksgiving, when the wedding season has slowed down and the
holiday rush hasnâ€™t quite begun. Our goal is to visit at least one
new place a year. In previous years, we traveled to many parts of
the world, including Japan, Thailand, Tahiti, Quebec, and Vancouver.
For our 2005 trip we decided on Costa Rica although the
decision was not easy. We had also been considering South Africa, New
Zealand, Fiji, Maldives, Spain, and Brazil. After reading endless travel
magazines and comparing conflicting reviews on Internet forums, I finally
understood how a bride must feel during the early stages of her wedding
planning when she has no idea in which direction to go to and which sources
to trust. Therefore, I decided to turn to an expert and called my friend
Dianne Tatro of TravelQuest.
Dianne is a Certified Travel Consultant who has helped many
of my previous clients plan extraordinary honeymoons. When she heard of my
frustration, she immediately asked me a lot of great questions to determine
the type of travelers Alan and I are. Within a few hours, she proposed that
Costa Rica would be the perfect destination for us since we were looking for
a combination of relaxation and adventure. Although we gave Dianne short
lead-time, she was extremely efficient and sent me a detailed itinerary in
just a few days. The itinerary was so well thought out that hardly any
changes needed to be made. On December 1, 2005, Alan and I headed for our
first trip to South America.
When we arrived at San Jose Airport, we were thankful that we were able to
ignore the many local taxi and shuttle drivers fighting for our business.
Instead, we were greeted by a friendly bilingual driver, who was kind enough
to educate us about the culture of Costa Rica during the one-hour drive to
our first destination: Peace Lodge at the Le Paz Waterfall.
The Peace Lodge was beautiful, romantic and even magical!
Situated high within the Le Paz Waterfall Gardens, each of the rooms had a
Jacuzzi tub and stone fireplace. We had upgraded to a Deluxe Room and were
most in awe of the amazing garden bathroom with a 7-foot waterfall behind
the Jacuzzi tub. At night, Alan and I gazed at the stars from the additional
Jacuzzi tubs on our spacious balcony as we celebrated our 3rd anniversary.
|We spent the second day hiking down to see all of
the different waterfalls, and experienced the largest butterfly
observatory in the world. Both were delightful! Our driver arrived
on time to take us to our next destination: Arenal Volcano.
|Arenal Volcano, the only active volcano in Costa
Rica, is considered one of the ten most active in the world. We had
a nice view from our quaint little cabin perched on a quiet hill,
but because of the low clouds we were unable to see the volcano
clearly. We spent the next day rafting on the Sarapiqui River, which
was very exciting. Our guide stopped to point out a lot of different
birds, and gave us fresh watermelons and pineapple to snack on.
Our third stop was Monteverde, which is called the Cloud
Forest of Costa Rica instead of a rainforest because of its altitude. The
clouds actually float through the forest. It is the most famous
ecotourism-oriented community in Central America. Its reserves are rich in
biodiversity and, despite the unpaved and terribly rocky roads, tourists
love the beautiful and lush forests. We chose several different ways to
explore Monteverde: by horseback, ATVs (all terrain vehicles), and the most
famous method of allâ€”canopy tours.
||Our favorite was the canopy tour, allowing us to
zip through the cloud forest, hundreds of feet high on 10 different
cables. The longest cable was 427 meters long! It was definitely
breathtaking and exciting!
|Our final stop was Manuel Antonio. It took us
about four hours to get there by car but the ride was not bad at
all. Our driver had a great eye and often stopped to point out
monkeys and other mammals. Halfway to Manuel Antonio we stopped by
the side of a bridge and, looking down, we saw almost a dozen
Manuel Antonio was the most relaxing part of our trip
since we had done most of our excursions at the previous destinations. We
were scheduled to stay there for four nights, and spent the first two days
kicking back at the beach, surfing, and catching up on our reading. Manuel
Antonio is a charming area, a combination of lush rainforests, beautiful
beaches and coral reefs. On the third day, we joined a guided tour of the
famous Manuel Antonio National Park, known for its diverse wildlife. It was
an extraordinary experience. We saw troops of white face monkeys, sloths,
bats, and many more fascinating mammals, birds, and insects.
||We left Costa Rica with only one thought: Weâ€™re
definitely going back!