Okay okay enough about Costa Rica I hear you say… my last post I promise. But I saved the best till last!
Of course I didn’t just eat (and drink) my way around the Four Seasons resort or lounge around pools and private beaches as talked about in my last two posts. My last two days in the Peninsula Papagayo were slightly more active.
An early rise got me up and at the beach for 6.30am, ready for a strenuous spot of kayaking.
In pairs we paddled along the sea to a private beach known as Snake Bay (we were only told this on our route back!). The ocean was crystal clear, with tiny little fish dotting around between us.
For some reason the following attempted selfie cracks me up…
…apparently a GoPro in water adds 10lbs!
It was a beautifully tranquil morning, the perfect hour to paddle in peace before the scorching rays shone down on my pale English skin!
After working up a sweat, a cool fresh coconut was the perfect treat, waiting for us as we pulled in our kayaks.
Of course I was GoPro mounted the whole way… check out my adventure down below!
Later that morning, we headed to Witch’s Rock for an adrenaline rushing activity. I think you’ll agree that the hairnet addition to the outfit was rather glamorous…
High among the rainforest canopy we were invited to scream our way down not one but eleven ziplines!
It was the best fun I’ve had in a while and such a different way to see the incredible lush views of Costa Rica.
The helmets were even equipped with GoPro clips, perfect for the avid filmer![embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8D2Y2gZ2tc[/embedyt]
By now we had only just reached midday, so naturally we turned lunch into a traditional Costa Rican feast at Casona Hacienda El Viejo, a traditional 19th century house lived in by the Guanacaste cowboys, or ‘sabaneros’. It now features an open air restaurant on the restored original woodwork overlooking the grounds and forest landscape.
Our authentic lunch began with a shared buffet of meats, salad and ‘Gallo Pinto’, a mixture of rice and beans, the traditional dish of Costa Rica.
It was truly delicious, so fresh and tasty and the real home cooked deal. It was followed by a traditional chilled rice pudding, topped with ground cinnamon.
We were also invited to see the old sugar mill at the house, led by a traditionally dressed lady who took us on a mini tour.
I loved the group of animals that followed us around, a large ox in training to work the sugar mill and his dairy friends.
We toured a traditional home set up to represent how it would have been over 200 years ago. We learnt to make traditional tortillas on a clay stove before enjoying sweet juice and local cheese.
After lunch we headed to the Palo Verde National Park, a tropical dry forest just under 2 hours away from the Four Seasons resort. Among these spectacular wetlands we embarked on a cruise along the Tempisque River.
Among the dense trees, our guide with the most incredible eye was able to spot the most camouflaged reptiles. An iguana on almost every branch.
However I wasn’t leaving without seeing the beast of the river, the ever impressive crocodile. Every floating piece of bark caught my eye until our guide pointed his handy laser to a grassy patch of water. We could just about make out her head, three white sharp teeth sticking up.
Dotted around her were five tiny little babies, all as equally still as their mother.
As we sailed down the river, we spotted an array of tropical birds from hummingbirds to the most colourful herons.
The tiger heron pictured below was a noisy creature, calling out from its tree top position.
I also managed to capture this blurry but action shot of a boat billed heron.
Not before too long a tree began to shake as a group of white faced monkey bounced from branch to branch, their long tails high in the air.
The cruise was a fantastic way to see some of Costa Rica’s incredible wildlife, even in the wet season. I will definitely be returning to explore the other national parks where sloths, toucans and other tropical creatures can be found.
In addition to the amazing animals spotted on our tour, we also were lucky enough to spot various creatures hidden among the trees around the Four Seasons resort and on our journeys.
One of which was a strange creature I’d never seen before! A costis, related to the raccoon, looks rather cute, however his sharp snarl is not to be messed with!
Halfway between the Peninsula and San Jose is a restaurant known for its population of Scarlet Macaws. On our stop off for a snack we were lucky enough to see a whole flock sitting together in the trees above, sharing a home with a group of howler monkeys.
Our last activity on the trip was a visit to the family-run Doka Estate, an hour away from San Jose. This traditional coffee plantation is home to a popular coffee brand which has been sold to many famous outlets including Starbucks for over 70 years.
The tour began with a fresh latte frappe sample, a deliciously cool taste of the local coffee.
Our tour guide was really informative, explaining the entire production process from seed to cup.
We learnt about how those who pick the coffee get paid by the basket, which are then poured into a giant vault of water as someone manually counts each one.
The largest, best beans sink to the bottom, allowing the hydraulic power to put the floating weaker beans to one side.
The beans are then pushed through a number of machines (made in London don’t you know!) that peel, de-pulp and sort them into sizes and quality. The beans are laid out in the air to be dried by the hot Costa Rican sun, before being bagging into hessian sacks which keep out the moisture.
After our tour we were invited to try the different types of coffee; decaff, breakfast blend, French roast and more. As someone who loves the taste and smell of coffee but unfortunately can’t drink it (heart palpitations… not good) I resisted and settled with sampling a few bean chocolates which were just so delicious I bought some to take home.
The different types of coffee come from the variation of drying times, bean size and roasting. Strangely the beans that have been roasted for the longest amount of time have slightly less caffeine in!
It was a super interesting tour and I’d definitely recommend it to any coffee enthusiasts.
That is now the end of my Costa Rican adventure, and what an incredible experience it was. A huge thank you to Four Seasons for having me, I will definitely be returning!