I was looking to go somewhere warm this Christmas and New Years and decided to head back to Costa Rica with the addition of Panama.
Costa Rica is a wonderful country so it was no problem heading there again. The tour I took was excellent, though had a lot of long drives and early mornings. I’ve always said I get up earlier on vacation than I do at home.
I arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica two days before the start of the tour so had some time to wander around and visit some museums.
The city was packed with people. Most employees in Costa Rica receive an annual Christmas Bonus (mandated by law) so they had cash in their pockets and Christmas shopping on their minds.
While US Dollars are widely accepted I picked up some Costa Rican Colones from the ATM. The exchange rate was 595 Colones to the Dollar. Panama is one of several countries that use the US Dollar as their currency.
Our first stop was Tortuguero National Park. There are no road there and all supplies are delivered by boat. We had about an hour and a half boat ride to get to our rustic lodge in the park. There was no air conditioning here, though they had high-speed internet and the cell service was great.
Costa Rica is filled with amazing flora and fauna. Each trip I’ve taken there seems to provide me a chance to see something new and interesting.
This trip included the earliest departure time of any trip…3:30 AM!! This early start was to see the sunrise at the top of Baru Volcano (11,400’) near Boquete, Panama. It’s the highest point in Panama. The road is treacherous. Took 2 hours for our 4X4’s to drive about 8 miles. 72° at the hotel when we departed; 42° at the top (colder with the wind). It was great to have a clear day.
After the sunrise we headed back down. It was a bit scarier in the daylight seeing exactly what the road looked like. It was worth it and we had a nice breakfast back at the hotel.
In Panama we got to see the Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal in action and had lunch at a small community of the indigenous Embera tribe. We reached the community by boat. It was raining on the way there though stopped for the visit and boat trip back.
I highly recommend visiting Costa Rica though would prefer a trip with a slower pace.
Operator: Gate 1 Travel
Dates: Dec. 21. 2022 – Jan 3, 2023
Below are some photos of the trip.