It's always great to see some of our favorite destinations on the Caribbean coast getting the attention they deserve. An Australian paper just named Puerto Viejo the best place for Costa Rican food. Now, Costa Rican food is admittedly not always that exciting--most people come to Costa Rica to relax, for the beautiful scenery and wildlife and to have some adventure. But there are some exceptions, which is why now we often Caribbean cooking classes!
Check out the article below, which also mentions the best destinations for adventure (La Fortuna), wildlife (Osa), hiking (Monteverde), and beaches (Nosara). (Note: we may not agree with all of them, but several are also favorites among our clients.) Also, you'd probably need at least two trips to squeeze in all the locations--not that there's anything wrong with that!
As always, let us know what you're interested in, and we'll plan just the right vacation for you.
_ It is really not an easy job organizing tours to paradise - there are many hours spent planning the perfect experience together with our customers, booking the trip, providing support throughout the trip, and collecting feedback once the costumers have returned home. All the hard work is worth it at the end of the day because of posts like the one pictured on the right (taken from out Facebook fan-page) that make it all worth it to us!
Christina wrote me about traveling to the Caribbean for a week around New Years, one of the peak travel times to Costa Rica. This was quite a last minute request, and the Finca Rio Perla staff were leaving the farm for that weekend (they need a vacation as well!) and would not be able to accommodate Christina. At this late date (3-4 days), it would also be near impossible for me to tailor a trip for her, process her payment and book all of her accommodations and activities in a timely manner. Nevertheless, I answered all the questions about concerns she had about traveling to Costa Rica, and helped her out with finding places to stay and activities to do during her trip that was to welcome 2012 on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.
I received a thank you note from her, and understood that she enjoyed the trip and had tons of fun and experiences. I did not charge her anything for sharing the info with her - but I did ask her to share her experience with us with others - and the review above really made my day.
Thank you Christina - I am glad we could help you greet the New Year in paradise!
The Costa Rica Caribbean Experience
Gandoca - Manzanillo Beach, south Caribbean
It has more than a year since I led the first Costa Rica Caribbean tour, (May 2010), and looking back at the year that is past gives me a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment.
It all started by a chance meeting with Paul Siegel, the owner of Finca Rio Perla, who invited me to come down to Costa Rica and visit his amazing farm – and help him with marketing the farm to potential guests and volunteers. Combined with my long love and fascination for Costa Rica since I visited it first in 1997, as well as the fact that in in that stage in my life I was looking to get into the eco-tourism business, this all made perfect sense – and so the 'Experience' was born.
Since then I have been many times to Costa Rica, each visit strengthening my connection to both the local community as well as the various tourism providers (hotels, activity and adventure outfitters) – all in pursuit providing visitors with the most authentic- and ecologically minded- visit to this paradise of a country.
During the time that has passed I have also send many families, couples and groups of friends to visit Finca Rio Perla, as part of their visit to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. This has been a great experience for me – first dealing with the individual requests for more information about visits, then helping them with the logistics of arriving on the farm, and later receiving their great reviews and accolades about their visit.
I recently came by the following article in the Tico Times (Costa Rica’s English weekly newspaper) about the amazing beaches of the Caribbean region – listing in detail all the beaches south of Puerto Viejo. And honestly, every time I visit these beaches I am taken aback each time by their sheer beauty, and the calmness that ensues after spending some time on them.
July marked the first time that we sent a group to the Caribbean Experience without me escorting the tour – and we used the services of the super-professional Felipe Chacon from Get To Costa Rica. There were five women from L.A., and they stayed on the farm, and visited Tortuguero and the Arenal volcano as well - they all had a great time!
The fall marks preparations for the winter tours – the first of which we announced last week (December 10-18, 2011), and expanding the experiences we offer our clients - including trips to other parts of Costa Rica and also Panama.
The Costa Rica Caribbean Experience
Our group eating lunch on Finca Rio Perla!
I am writing this post from my home office in Washington DC – it is a pretty chilly late February night, and it is hard to believe that just a few short weeks ago I was in Costa Rica, galloping on one of the horses on Finca Rio Perla, or enjoying the magnificent sunset on the Caribbean coast.
In late January I led a small group on one of our “Caribbean Experiences” (the second such tour I lead), introducing a group from DC and L.A. to the farm, the highlands, and to the Caribbean coast. The weather was just perfect, as we had arrived right after an extended rainy season – it seems that we brought the sun with us!
After grouping up in Alajuella, the small town near the International Airport, our driver for the trip, Julio, took us down to the farm, passing on the way the towering cloud forested mountains of the Braulio Carrillo National Park, making our way to Finca Rio Perla.
It was great to be on the farm with the group – it had been 6 months since I was last on the farm, and it has gone through some major changes – first and foremost, the addition of the new managers of Finca Rio Perla : Andrew, a permaculture specialist originally from the US who has lived in Costa Rica for the past decade, his soon-to-be wife, Daniela, who is a native Tica, and their son Nicolas. Andrew has a MS degree in Horticulture from University of Georgia and expertise in organic agriculture and educational programs, and has started to manage the organic garden and the professional courses & internships that the farm is offering, and Daniela is a Spanish teacher, and will be managing the B&B on the farm as well as offering Spanish lessons to guests and volunteers.
These days the farm staff is quite busy, as they are hosting a three week Permaculture Design Course Course, with over 15 participants from the US.
Finca Rio Perla has also added a spacious handicap accessible room, and the whole area of the Stablo has been supped up – a wooden camping platform for the farm’s comfy tents, bathrooms and showers, a state of the art kitchen, a classroom, a pool table - as well as stone picnic tables. Nearby, they are building the new Casa Communal house that will host up to 8 volunteers – this will help free more rooms for guests in the main house, the Posada.
Paul, the owner of Finca Rio Perla was on the farm when we visited, as well as several volunteers that usually spend a few weeks to a few months on the farm. Paul really enjoys showing guests around and telling them about his vision of building a thriving community on Finca Rio Perla - and indeed, Finca Rio Perla is growing, and is the community.
The group I traveled with really enjoyed the farm, which to myself and Paul is one of the greatest rewards of being in this business – the satisfaction of our guests and tours attendees.
The group enjoyed the amazing veggie food, went on a long horseback ride, swam in the refreshing waterfalls on the farm property, fished for dinner, milked cows and learned how to make Tico cheese and ice-cream- and enjoyed a thrilling day rafting on the mighty Pacuare river!chocholate
We did other things on the farm as well - such as planting hardwood trees to offset our travel associated carbon emissions, help with the organic garden, go birdwatching with Andrew – and of course, relax on the hammocks and remember that we are actually on vacation!
The Reef Runners 'Booze-Cruise' - part of the group and our cruise guides...
Later on, we headed down the coast and based ourselves at Puerto Viejo, the most happening town on the Caribbean. Puerto is the kind of place you get to know quickly, and often do not want to leave - as attested by the more then 40 nationalities represented there. Our group checked into the Cabinas Jacaranda Hotel & Jungle Garden, run by the amazing Vera, and started on the second leg of the trip, which included a chocolate tour, a zipline adventure, a great jungle hike in the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, and a sunset "booze-cruise" where the group got to drink some spiked tropical punch and swim a mile off the coast, amongst he gentle Caribbean waves...
The Costa Rica Caribbean Experience
Two nights ago we got some news from Finca Rio Perla - A new birth of a baby horse, named Shamana!
Paul, the farm's owner went and bought a goat for milk - as the mare that gave birth was not able to feed it. In the photo he is feeding Shamana some of the goat milk.
Finca Rio Perla has about 25 horses that guests enjoy riding.
Ami at one of Finca Rio Perla's cool streams
I am really glad to finally be writing this first post!
I am still not sure what this CostaBlog will become, but I am really hoping that it will be a place where people that have – or will – be going on a Costa Rica Caribbean Experience can share information, thoughts etc, as well as a place where I will be able to update readers about what is new with us, as well as news from Finca Rio-Perla and general news from this part of Costa Rica that I think is worth sharing.
Next month it will be as year since the idea for the Experience was conceived, when I visited Dr. Paul Siegel for the first time on Finca Rio-Perla. It was January, and Washington DC was extremely cold when I left it for Costa Rica. The contrast could not have been bigger- two days after enduring the sub-zero temperatures of the Mid-Atlantic, I was walking barefoot on the beach of Cahuita National Park – a gem on Costa Rica’s Caribbean, splashing in the warm waves. I immediately fell in love once more with Costa Rica.
It had been almost 13 years since I visited this country last, but I always had a longing to return – Costa Rica for me was, since visiting it for the first time – a sort of earthly paradise, a place where one could find jungles, volcanoes, adventure, exotic animals and lush trees. A place where it was always summer, the people were (mostly) happy and the vibe was chill. It is this place and these memories that I thought it would be great to share with others through the Costa Rica Caribbean Experience.
Here’s to a happy new year, Costa Rica style!
The Costa Rica Caribbean Experience
In this blog Greener Travel will write about eco-tourism and unique travel experiences!