The little country of Costa Rica is one of the most bio-diverse countries in the world, it is home to so many different species of animal and plants.
Although it’s a bit expensive (due to the huge waves of American tourism), I did have a great time exploring the rainforests and meeting lots of new animals!
Some highlights include…
1. Beautiful Butterflies
After a short, uneventful stop in the country’s capital, San Jose, I headed to Santa Elena, a town in the north of Costa Rica with easy access to three national parks.
Although, most people come to Costa Rica for these parks, I had a better time down the road at the Butterfly Gardens.
Here, I paid a small fee and had a solo guided tour around the gardens. We started in a room where I met and learnt about a lot of different bugs and animals.
For example, I learnt that there are no lethal tarantulas in the world, and that most cockroaches aren’t home invaders – even more, they’re quite clean animals, so much so that you can put them in your mouth with no nasty surprises.
I also learnt and saw lots of butterflies. Like the postman butterfly, with its red and white wings that visits the same flowers in the same order. Or the 5 spot butterfly which actually has 17 spots.
2. Climbing Inside Trees
One of the best parts about Santa Elena is the hollow ficus (or strangler) tree.
This tree is hollow (and therefore climbable) because it is a parasite of the original tree. The OP tree is just doing it’s own thing, then this ficus comes along, wraps itself around the original, then takes all the nutrients away. Ultimately the inner tree dies and leaves a great chain of strong interlaced branches.
It’s completely safe, although a bit tight at the top, and it was free!
3. Jaguar (to the) Rescue (Centre)
After Santa Elena, I headed to the south-east of Costa Rica to a place called Puerto Viejo. This small sea-side town was my favourite place in all of CR.
This is because, after a short cycle down a flat road, with greenery on one side, and then the beach and ocean on the other, you can visit the Jaguar Rescue Centre.
Now, they don’t have jaguars, but they do rescue and rehabilitate many wild animals such as spider monkeys, wild cats, and, of course, sloths.
For a good fee, you get to see loads of different animals and learn about them from a volunteer.
However, as it should be, you cannot touch or hold these animals as they are being prepared for release into the wild.
But my face was 40cm away from a three-toed-sloth. So totally worth it.
4. More Sloths
The day after I visited the Rescue Centre, an amazing Australian girl called Brook and I headed to Cahuita National Park, a short bus ride out of town.
Now, I thought I had had my best day in Costa Rica the day before, but man I was wrong.
Cahuita is a donation-only park situated on the side of the ocean. Think thick green foilage and then suddenly, blue ocean.
It was amazing and for our $5 donation (instead of $20+ entry fee) it came at an unbeatable price.
As with any national park, it’s all about luck.
Brook and I took our time, soaking in the amazing atmosphere and taking a few breaks to go swimming in the ocean, or taking photos on this amazing backdrop.
We got on really well, and after having a chat about travelling, we joined the main path and found a big group of tourists around one area.
When we reached them, we found out they were all filming a sloth and it’s baby coming down from the canopy.
Having learnt the day before that sloths only did this once a month (to poop), I released how lucky we were!
I was a mere meter away from these mesmerizing animals!
The pictures don’t do it justice.
Thankfully, we stayed a little longer at this spot as soon after most of the crowd had died away, we became surrounded by spider monkeys!
You should have seen the smile on our faces.
(Further up the path we found lots of hermit crabs, which I really wanted to see as well).
Man, I loved that country.
Total Spent: £257.06
Total Nights: 8
Cost per Night: £32.13
Notes: San Jose didn’t see me leave my hostel much, hence bringing the cost down