I had an amazing time in Costa Rica and I hope you enjoyed these posts. There are a few things that I did not get to do, such as visit Finca Sonador (a village founded by Salvadorean refugees and landless Costa Ricans), go on a tour of a vanilla farm in Sarapiqui, visit the Jaguar Rescue Center and the BriBri people near Puerto Viejo in Limon but there’s always next time!
For our last two days in Costa Rica, we stayed at Albergue El Socorro. This place is about 30 minutes drive on a windy and half-unpaved road from San Miguel. We found it to be the perfect place to relax but be warned that it’s difficult to get to without 4WD; though you can ask Don Jose (the super hospitable owner) to come and pick you up at San Miguel. Albergue El Socorro is a working farm that abuts a huge rainforest.
We tried to see the crater at the top of Poas Volcano but to no avail; the clouds stayed throughout the day. If you plan on trying to see it, I recommend staying at the Altura Hotel (it’s beautifully designed and has every comfort you could want while being about 7 minutes drive from the park entrance.) and checking the Poas cam (if you see grey, that’s not it not loading, that’s the actual current condition of clouds covering everything). After our attempt, we drove from Poas to the Sarapiqui area, this drive is absolutely beautiful; there are waterfalls and green rainforest in all directions.
I really wanted to go to Corcovado National Park so we took a day trip with Perla del Sur to Sirena station. The cost is $130 per person and includes lunch (Beware vegetarians, their idea of a vegetarian meal is asking you to remove the ham from a ham and cheese sandwich). It starts at 7 (ish) from Sierpe (do not eat the food from the Perla del Sur restaurant, it is not good! Coffee is ok though.) and you take a boat for about 2 hours through the mangroves (stopping for any crocodiles or caimans) and into the Pacific Ocean to reach Sirena. There’s a possibility of seeing dolphins on the boat trip but we only saw one really far away. Upon reaching Corcovado, we hiked for about 4 hours around the Sirena Ranger Station before returning by boat. While Corcovado is well known for its wildlife, I didn’t hold out so much hope since we were going during the day and animals tend to sleep at this time but I was VERY pleasantly surprised. Our guide, Stanley, was great at spotting wildlife and every guide brings along a scope so that you can see the animals up in the treetops. I fully recommend visiting Corcovado if you are anywhere near the area. The rest of this post is basically just going to be pictures of all the animals we saw that day. Enjoy!
We had the opportunity to visit the Boruca people during the Dance of the Little Devils (Baile de los Diablitos). It’s celebrated between December 31st and January 2nd. We visited at the end of the festival on January 2nd. The festival is a reenactment of a battle between Boruca warriors (the Diablitos) and Spain (a big bull). Throughout the battle, the Boruca warriors gain in numbers and tease the bull but eventually the bull gains in strength and wins the battle. It’s not over, however, as the Boruca warriors rise from the dead and end the battle by burning the bull. It’s amazing to see the intricacies of the wooden masks carved by the Borucas. They are beautiful but also a little bit scary. The warriors remain hydrated throughout the hot day by drinking Chicha (a beer made from corn) and there are multiple breaks to fix masks or eat lunch. You get the sense that the entire community is enjoying themselves and really supporting each other.
We had some really great food in Ojochal. Here are some of my favorite dishes and places.
Restaurante Pinuelas (about 50 meters south of the entrance to Playa Pinuelas) – this soda has super good ceviche and super fresh seafood. I don’t know how many ceviche mixtos (with fish and shrimp) I ate at this place. Be sure to get the ceviche with patacones (fried smashed salty plaintains). The lime juice in the ceviche and the salt in the patacones complement each other perfectly. They also serve a fried whole red snapper that you can get in small, medium, or large. A medium is just the right size for two people. It comes with vegetables and nacho chips. The fish is perfectly crisp. They don’t sell fish tacos, which I love, but you can make your own by ordering the breaded fish (pescado empanizado) and asking for a portion of “tiernas” (small flour tortillas). The breaded fish is crispy and soft and comes with french fries, steamed vegetables, and tartar sauce. My boyfriend loved the filete de pescado casado. Casado is a dish that you can get at most sodas in Costa Rica; it consists of some type of meat of your choosing and salad, rice, vegetables, beans, and sweet plantains. This dish was just perfect for lunch after a morning of swimming. As you can see, we REALLY liked Restaurante Pinuelas. Note that they close when they run out of ceviche, which is usually around sunset. A meal for 2 with drinks is about $20.
Ojochal is pretty much one of the most perfect places I’ve ever been. It is close to beautiful deserted beaches, delicious food, and amazing wildlife. We stayed at the Villas de Oros and it was a great base for exploring the region. The entire property is built into the canopy of the jungle so you have prime views of animals in hopping around the trees from your balcony. We saw toucans, white-faced capuchin monkeys, scarlet macaws, and howler monkeys. The balcony is also home to a small kitchen area with a sink, fridge, and induction stove so you can cook your own meals if you like. Vikki, the owner, is also super willing to help and will book any tours you like for you.
The area surrounding Ojochal has amazing beaches. The four we went to were Playa Ballena, Playa Pinuelas, Playa Ventanas, and Playa Tortuga. The sand at these beaches is extremely fine and one is often only one of a few people on the entire beach.