I’m really a city girl, having grown up in the city of Boston and then moving to New York directly after college. So hanging out in the jungle with wild animals isn’t really my thing – but it’s always good to push your limits! I traveled to Costa Rica a couple years ago and it was one of the most amazing trips I’ve taken. It was wildly different from anything I’ve ever experienced before, in a good way. During my 10 day trip I covered the beach, the jungle, rivers, mountains and the famous Arenal Volcano.
Since the Arenal Volcano is still active, there are a number of natural hot springs in the area which are worth the trip. The one I went to had pools that descended into each other, going down in temperature. The hotel we stayed in (apologies for forgetting the name!) also had a pool from which you could swim up to a bar and watch the volcano erupt. Uber touristy, but still recommended.
What I loved the most was seeing so much wildlife in Costa Rica. There were literally monkeys everywhere. At one point a member of my group was holding a candy bar, and a monkey jumped up, grabbed it, climbed up a tree, and proceeded to unwrap it in less than 10 seconds. While these little animals are adorable, they definitely are not safe to touch and will scavenge your food.
Besides monkeys, you could spot sloths, crocodiles and toucans regularly. I did several hikes in the jungle and went horseback riding, and didn’t see much. But it was on my boat ride to the Tortuguero Jungle Lodge, which takes about 2 hours, that I saw the most. Our guide was helpful in pointing everything out, and said that lucky travelers might spot a jaguar. I kept my eyes peeled, but unfortunately didn’t see one.
My Costa Rica Travel Tips:
- It’s HOT. And HUMID. So wear loose, cool clothing. Regardless of how you dress, you’re just going to have to get used to being sweaty. Might as well go hiking.
- If you want to travel all around, go with a tour group. It’s just the safest way – much safer than driving around by yourself. Plus your tour guide will probably have lots of knowledge to offer on area wildlife, the jungle, etc.
- Stay in a jungle lodge, like Tortuguero. Though it lacks the amenities of a modern, luxury hotel, you’ll get a unique experience without actually camping out. Plus you get to experience the local Costa Rican culture (rice & beans for breakfast, every day). If you hear animals roaring in the night, don’t freak out like I did thinking I was about to get eaten by a lion. It’s just monkeys, and that sound is apparently normal.
- It’s not expensive to get there. In fact, it’s one of the most affordable Latin American countries to fly to, with Spirit Air flights as low as $400. Unfortunately the city you fly into, San Jose, isn’t really a destination (and it’s not safe at night) so you’ll only want to stay there the night of your flight.