Costa Rica – A Life on Tour

I’m Ian and I have 35 years (I know!!) of travel experience in different areas of the industry. I’ve been a rep and worked my way to branch manager, so there aren’t many places I’ve not been. It’s always nice to travel with work, getting whisked away to sample a destination and check out great hotels. Its more unusual however to be given the chance to experience an actual tour, but thanks to Trafalgar Holidays that’s exactly what lay in front of me.

Costa Rica was really a mystery to me but I was looking forward to our route which would take us from the Caribbean Coast, passing numerous volcanoes and ending in the warm pacific coastline.

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Now, I know what you’re thinking – a tour, that means you’re going to be on a hot bus for hours on end and only seeing the country through the window. WRONG! For a start, we had a top of the line luxury coach with Wi-Fi and air-con and secondly, Trafalgar Holidays really know how to show off a destination. They pride themselves on the quality and knowledge of their Tour Guides. Ours was named Fabian and his love of the country and knowledge of nature was second to none.

He would talk enthusiastically about everything and from day 1 he said “if the sun shines then it’s Hallelujah… If it rains then its Hallelujah!!” We all got into that eternally optimistic mode and what a journey we had.

Even when we didn’t have an activity planned, we would stop for a comfort break or for a bit of shopping and we would always be given fantastic insight into the region and what it had to offer.

Some of our scheduled stops allowed us to immerse ourselves into the country and the landscape. From exploring Tortuguero National Park which is famed for its breeding turtles to hiking to the base of one of the many volcanoes we stopped at; it was a real adventure and my walking boots saw plenty of action.

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There were canopy tours with hanging bridges (think “I’m a Celeb” and you’ll get the picture) and a zip-line through the tree canopies – the most exhilarating thing I’ve done. We finished the tour off with the beautiful beaches of the Caribbean coast at Manuel Antonio National Park. It was the perfect way to relax after all that walking and excitement!

During our tour we stayed at 4 different hotels, and different the definitely were!

Hotel 1 was the Sheraton San Jose. A 4* city hotel which was just what I needed after the 12 hour flight. That bed was divine and thanks to the -7hr time different I was up early even; after such a long and wonderful sleep.

Hotel 2 was basic in comparison but still gets 4*’s on TripAdvisor so don’t be put off. Laguna Lodge is situated in the jungle and proudly boasts very eco-friendly credentials. We were immersed in wildlife and it felt like I was in an Attenborough documentary when I woke up on day 3 – there was a wonderful mix of Howler Monkey calls and bird song, I’ve never heard anything quite like it!

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We spent the next two nights in the pretty Arenal Paraiso Resort and Spa. It sits looking out at the massive Arenal Volcano and all rooms have both a volcano and a garden room view; with a terrace to the front and a balcony at the back of the room.

The hotel also has a collection of thermal pools, they get warmer as you go higher up, and trust me, the hottest pool is very hot!

Our final hotel was the Parador Resort and Spa which was excellent. Another Eco-hotel, but this time in a slightly more luxurious fashion, it’s located in Manuel Antonia National Park and sits right on the coast. Perfectly situated for a spot of relaxing and sunbathing.

I loved every minute of my Costa Rican tour! Even the time spent on the coach passed easily. With such beautiful landscapes and scenery to enjoy, watching the world go by was all the entertainment I needed. There is probably a bit too much travelling for younger families but if you’re an ’empty nester’ or a young professional after some adventure then a this sort of tour should be seriously considered – you won’t regret it!

If you want some help planning a trip of a lifetime to Costa Rica, or somewhere similar, give me a call on 01225 808 929 or drop an email to ian.mccaughan@cooptravel.coop

 

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