Costa Rica’s capital San Jose, the capital, is a nice enough place to spend a night or two but most travellers dont come to Costa Rica to stay in the capital, but to experience the amazing nature.
I wanted to visit Tortuguero National Park so only stayed 2 nights. Looking for accomodation, it turned out that many of the lodges in the park offers packages which includes transfer to/from San Jose. I booked with Laguna Tortuguera and paid around usd 300 for 3 days/2 nights, including tours from the lodge, transfers and full board. Only extra was drinks.
I got picked up early in the morning (6 am) by a taxi and taken to the station where a big (and very comfortable) bus was waiting.
After about 2,5 hours we arrived in Guapiles where breakfast was served.
At around 9 AM, depart for La Pavona boat station with arrival at around 11 AM. From here the rest of the journey to the park is by boat. Most of the journey is on a narrow stream surrounded by thick jungle and its a great experience in itself. The boat trip takes about 1,5 hour and after arrival, you get a welcome cocktail, get your room and lunch is served.
After lunch, there is a short boat ride to the town of Tortuguero.
Its a pretty small place but there a a few bars/restaurants and a few shops – an hour or two here is more than enough.
Back at the lodge, there is a lovely beach, however swimming is not recommended due to rough surf and dangerous rip tides.
Its a great place to see the famous turtles but this is only allowed if you join a professional guide. When i visited, the beach was closed from sunset to sunrise.
The rooms at the lodge was a bit basic (no aircon and no TV) but they were spotlessly clean and you really feel you are in the middle of the jungle.
Day 2 starts with breakfast followed by a 2-3 hour boat tour around the many canals. Watch out for lizards, sloths, monkeys, caimans and of course the toucans.
I spent the afternoon lazing by the pool and just enjoying the amazing view over the lake.
Day 3 it was time to leave, same way back as we arrived but i got off the bus at the breakfast restaurant at Guapiles (which also functions as an unofficial bus central.
I got on a different bus and headed towards Cahuita. From Guapiles it took about 2,5 hours to get to La Casa De Flores hotel.
Its a very small places with just a few rooms but very clean and has a good location.
Cahuita National park is just a couple of minutes away and its great for an early morning walk along the beach.
Unlike Tortugueras, this beach is excellent for swimming and snorkeling.
Apart from the park with its lovely beach, there is not much to do in Cahuiata. A couple of bars and restaurants is all, so 2-3 days here was enough for me.
The trip back to San Jose took approx. 4,5 hours in a minivan costing around usd 50.
There is also public transport which is only around usd 15 but it takes a lot longer, and you have to get to and from the bus station, so i decided that saving a couple of dollars just wasnt worth it.
I arrived from San Jose, Costa Rica in the evening and had a flight booked the following day early evening, so i had less than 1 day to get to see a little bit of Panama.
I had booked 1 night at Hard Rock Hotel, mainly because i had seen the hop on hop off bus had a stop about 1 minutes walk from the hotel.
I figured that this would be the best option to do a little sightseeing with so little time. This was excellent value for money at around usd 30.
I really wanted to visit the famous canal so got off the bus at Miraflores lock. It was in fact a bit dissapointing but there is a somewhat interesting visitors centre at the lock.
Be aware that most taxis in Panama dont take credit cards so make sure you have enough cash