Sorry for the lack of updates, but I’m back yo. I find it hard to write about this adventure because it breaks my heart that it is over.
Recently I flew to the US and Costa Rica, around mid June with my friend Cody. We stayed in 4 different locations in Costa Rica including La Fortuna, Playa Flamingo, Playa Islita and Heredia. I travelled mid June to the end of June, which is there ‘green’ season. Many people travel during October/November which is high season and can be quite expensive. We found the temperature perfect! It was warm during the days and we would get one or two showers of rain every day which cooled everything down. If you want sunny skies 24/7, then travel to Costa Rica in December/January.
We flew with Southwest direct to San Jose and landed on the Saturday morning. The flight was only 4 and a half hours! We decided to rent a car before hand, we waited around for the shuttle to bring us to the car rental. There were many taxi men outside that were harmless and very helpful, even called our car rental company! Just tip a dollar, be grand. We rented a Toyota Rav4 from ‘GreenMotion‘ and were relieved to have rented it due to all the unpaved roads. They were super friendly and helpful!
Our first place we stayed at was Birdsong Villa, a 3 hour car journey from San Jose which flew by. Warning that the roads aren’t all tarmac, the road up to the villa is very steep and can be slippery when raining. We stayed for two nights.
The beautiful villa is 2 stories, with two suites to rent. The Garden View suite (July2016: $180) and the Bird View suite (90$ as of July 2016). We opted for the Garden View which was completely worth it. It was filled with wide windows with a 180 degree view of the mountains, the Arenal mountain and the Arenal lake. At night it would rain a lot but it was amazing! We’d open the windows with the screen closed, we could feel the cool air blowing in which cooled us down in the humidity. Warning, there isn’t any air con but didn’t need it although there is a ceiling fan!
Active Arenal Volcano in the background!
It had a fully equipped kitchen where a chef would make guests their breakfasts in the morning, he’d come into the suite around 8am. We’d sit at the patio outside the room with the other guests and the owner Alan and eat our breakfast. There was a living room area in the suite. There was an inside and outdoor shower. We picked the Garden View suite for the beautiful views and the jacuzzi bath in the room, no ragrets (yes ragrets), when am I ever going to be in Costa Rica again? One of my favourite parts was watching the low clouds roll across the hills.
Garden View Suite
Things to do when staying at Birdsong Villa, El Castillo, Costa Rica!
- Hike to the nearby waterfall! Alan the owner will give you directions, but remember, if it looks like a small waterfall… KEEP WALKING! We made the mistake of thinking that was the waterfall and when we told Alan he was like ‘That is barely a spring!’. Whoops…
- Places to eat, there is a restaurant called ‘Phoenix Restaurant‘ a 3 minute walk away! Which you’ll find a bit strange because its located in, what feels like, a rural area but the food was amazing. I’m not a big drink (okay a bit) and had a vodka tonic. It was dangerous because it was actually too lovely to stop. Alan knows the owner, can call and make a reservation for you. The history behind the restaurant is fascinating as well!
There is also Pizza Johns AND IT WAS AMAZING. I weep because I know I won’t be able to taste their homemade coconut ice cream anytime soon or maybe ever!? The restaurant has great sign posted directions, it may look a bit out of the ordinary as it looks like a house. There was a lovely girl that greeted us the two times we went and her English was impeccable. We were reluctant at the start, who wants to get Italian pizza when you’re in this incredible place BUT it was incredible pizza! It was cooked from scratch by this woman that only spoke Spanish and always had a smile on her face. They even grew their own basil! People have written on the walls inside from all over the world, it was so beautiful.
- Climb Cerro Chato, seriously, do it. Its an inactive volcano that has a lake in the crater (WHEN WILL YOU EVER SAY YOU’VE CLIMBED SOMETHING LIKE THAT!). Its about a 20/25 minute drive from the villa from what I can remember. The clouds roll in and out of the lake but we never got a view from the top. The clouds will usually always cover the volcano. I’m not the fittest gal out there and it was tough, very tough. I’m diabetic and had low blood sugar at one point, then faked another one hahaha (I’m so so sorry Cody, you don’t know this, I really needed a rest!). It was so worth it though. We climbed a steep incline for around an 1 hour and 40 minutes, then had to go down a steep decline into the crater to get to the lake. Which was kind of heart breaking knowing that I had to climb when I thought the climbing was over! Don’t be fooled, the water is cold. Although, it is so worth it after a sweaty hike! We were lucky to have 40 minutes by ourselves before other hikers arrived. There were even little fishies that ate the dead skin around your feet which felt amazing. If you want a challenge and don’t mind getting a little muddy then GO FOR IT!
Lake at the top of Cerro Chato, Costa Rica
Tip: When you drive up, you will be stopped by the first man… DON’T TAKE HIS WORD. We met other hikers that climbed an extra 2 hours. If you want a challenge then go for it! But it takes longer and it is very exhausting. Go to the barriers, its only 10$ per person and you can drive up and park in an area that is closer. Alan will explain anyway!
Make sure to bring food, water and a GoPro (didn’t bring my phone because I didn’t want to fall and crack it). We decided we didn’t need to bring hiking boots and man, did I regret it. My Nikes were very slippery with no grip, especially since most of the trail was muddy and wet. I know they can be heavy, but its the best option. Bring a raincoat, maybe a spare top if you don’t feel like climbing back into a sweaty top you hiked up in. We saw one tiny snake in the river at the bottom.
Trying to show how steep it is!
- Visit the hot springs in La Fortuna! There are loads to choose from but sadly we didn’t go. We were staying on a weekend and during Saturday and Sunday it is filled with bus loads of people. We were going to another place with hot springs in an adventure day package a couple of days later but sadly that part was under construction. A friend of a friend mentioned Baldi HotSprings, it looks amazing! So don’t miss out.
If you have any questions, ask away! I will be publishing a post in the next week about our next villa!
Next post: Mariposa
Ps. A video will be coming out soon of my Costa Rican adventures…..
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