A Travellerspoint blog

Costa Rica

Jungle Diary - The ups and downs of going up and down

I'm like a cross between Tarzan and Indiana Jones


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So a few days ago I travelled to Dos Brazos in Corcovado National Park. My first time in what they call Primary Rainforest instead of the apparently tame stuff I've been in so far.

The wifi there was spotty at best, but you know, I was in the jungle. I did however, keep a little diary. Here it is:

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Day 1 - arrival
I don't feel very comfortable here. I'm the only guest here and the only person wearing clothes half the time. The hike up was harsh! Five mins by road, then another five up a pathway then you have to wade through a river before a final 20 min hike uphill.

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The bed seems nice, but it's all very open and I don't have any warm clothes. In theory, I could go back to the office and get stuff from my bag. Harsh hike again though if i do that!

At this point it feels like 3 nights may have been a night too long… Alternatively Blanc, just roll with it, chill out and relax a bit. Read a book!

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Two guys turned up late afternoon, Chris and Frank from Poland. Turns out they're father and son, which i never would have guessed. I think they've booked a room, so I'm still on my own where I'm sleeping

Chris is a good guy, we have a drink together, pretty fun evening, but still raining, it has been now for 6 hours.

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Day 2
The rain stopped about 7am, apparently the worst rain for two years! They’re saying it destroyed a bridge between here and Puerto Jimenez where I’m returning to, maybe I can't get out of here?

I went out for a hike, it was extraordinary, really beautiful, but very hard going in places and bloody hot! I saw a few animals including a family of jumping monkeys and the biggest butterfly I have ever seen in my life.

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Finished a whole book in under a day, I haven't done that in ages. Amazing how productive I can be when there’s no wi-fi

Made my dinner, only for a swarm of flying termites to show up and get in absolutely everything. I had to boil the water 3 times because they managed to get in there.

I would be happy to leave tomorrow, all the things that make this place great get old very quick, being in the middle of nowhere, shit power, shit wi-fi, nature everywhere, good for a day, maybe two, but three??

Went out at night with everyone looking in the jungle for snakes and spiders. Actually quite creepy, saw loads of spiders, no snakes. We found a hand sized wolf spider in the French couple’s room. The Polish lad moved it to the pond. He likes bugs apparently

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Day 3
Walked down to my bag to get the drone. Water was higher than before, but not too bad. Walk was a pain again though.

Flew the drone a bit before it started to rain hard. Ron got my hopes up by saying I may have to leave early if the rain continued because of crossing the river. Rain stopped though, I've never been so saddened by rain stopping.

Chris and Frank left, two Swiss girls arrived, tonight I'm mostly bored and looking forward to getting off tomorrow. I spent a little lime looking for stars. Anyone who knows me knows how badly I want to see the Milky Way, but it has eluded me again this trip so far, with the night skies being clouded over all the time. It's a long trip though, fingers crossed

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Day 4
It’s been a funny few days and in some ways I’m sad to be leaving, but in more ways I’m not lol. It really has been an experience, but I guess I’m too used to the trappings of modern life, even the cut down ones that I have while travelling. Would I do it again? Surprisingly, yes, in a heartbeat, it was amazing, seeing all the animals, living in the middle of it. It's the experience of a lifetime. Although I would likely just do two nights, that’s more than enough!

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Posted by cblanc102 20:31 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged animals monkeys rainforest jungle costa_rica bugs south_america central_america latin_america spiders solo_travel Comments (2)

Terror in the Dark!!!

Just a short one - Also the name of my sex tape


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A map of the trip so far

I often enjoy travelling at night, it seems to make more sense to waste time at night travelling than during the day and you can often save money with night buses as it's a night not spending money on accommodation. When I was in Turkey I took a 13 hour bus for £16 that worked out perfect for me.

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My view right now

Sometimes however, these things are terrifying, like the horrendous bus trip from Mumbai to Goa that Jarvis and I took in 2015 that felt like we were going to go off the edge of a cliff all night and where they almost drove off without me at a filthy roadside toilet God know where in the middle of the night.

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So I was obviously overjoyed to discover that my bus from Drake Bay to Puerto Jimenez was to leave at 4am. Or more accurately 4:30 am when they turned up. To be fair, I was happy it turned up at all as I wasn't 100% sure it would and a storm was coming in over the Pacific. No rain, but plenty of thunder and lightening.

As we sped through the forest roads in the pitch black, every now and again a flash of lightening would let me know that we were actually driving at speed along the very edge of a cliff overlooking the pacific. This It all adds to the adventure I'm sure you'll agree! As did the three times we drove through rivers as the bridges were unfinished, in disrepair or nonexistent.

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Giant meals for £3 and I guess I eat plantains now??

But get here I did eventually. Like most other places in Costa Rica it's beautiful, filled with friendly locals, great places to eat and exotic animals everywhere. Just this morning I've seen macaws, howler monkeys, brightly coloured crabs and some weird squirrel looking thing (like a thin squirrel without a bushy tail), but the real adventure starts in a couple of hours when I go to my new hostel right in the middle of the jungle for three days. With little electricity and wifi I won't be bringing along my laptop (I can leave my main bag at the office as there's a 30 min hike to the hostel) but I'll have my phone so hopefully will be able to update Facebook here and there.

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Watch out! Moneys above!

So hopefully I shall be back in three or four days with some exciting wildlife pictures! Can't wait!

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Good advice!

Posted by cblanc102 17:12 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged animals night costa_rica south_america central_america latin_america solo_travel Comments (0)

The importance of a day three

And a heartfelt apology


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Unusually for me, I shall start this entry with an apology.

We all have our prejudices. some learned through others and some through experience, but they're more than often wrong. I'm sure there are one or two people from Dartford who aren't filth and maybe a score of people from the North can use cutlery, but my crime is greater than just generalisation against a group of people. I have been specist.

Not all monkeys are bastards.

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This monkey was nice

All of my monkey encounters in the wild so far have involved the little sods trying to steal food or attack me. This is our fault, I've always known this, we shouldn't be bringing food into their environments, but it wasn't until I went to a place where they completely ban food around them that I realised how nice they can be. Both the family we encountered in Manuel Antonio Park and the dozens I saw around Uvita were all excellent. So again, I wholeheartedly apologise to monkeys worldwide for besmirching their characters.

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Howler monkeys that howl for two hours at 3 am can sod right off though! I know that truck woke us all up, but you didn't see me shouting about it until 5 am! Shut the eff up!

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This is a sloth, but it's just like a lazy monkey with huge claws

On with the blog...

I'm sat in Drake Bay a day later than planned as I needed an extra day in Uvita to rest up. I know it sometimes sounds that I'm just on a months long holiday, but it's a lot harder than it sounds. (I know, booooo hoooo!)

For example, today I went for a hike and hit 110 miles walked so far, in just 24 days. These were not easy miles either, often up very steep hills, through jungles, forests, sand and rivers and always in 30 plus degree heat. Today's hike was unexpectedly long as I thought I could get a boat back here at the end and had to walk back when I couldn't. It ended up being a 20 km walk... (again, cue tiny violins)

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Having loads of beaches all to yourself was great though

My feet have certainly felt better and I was generally pretty tired. I stayed at Uvita to relax but then ended up walking nine km that day anyway as I explored the beach. So I needed another day to sit around, read, swim and plan where I was going next. It's also an attempt to dry my clothes, but nothing dries here! I guess it must be the humidity, but it blows my mind that my little sports socks still haven't dried completely after 3 days sat in 35 degree heat!

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More random pics from my camera rather than my usual phone

When I started travelling last year, I had booked hotels and hostels months in advance, this trip I'm being a lot looser with it, often only booking a few days ahead and booking last minute. The only reason I was able to stay a day longer in Uvita was that I hadn't booked anything for the next day at 7 pm when the owner of the place I was staying at asked me if I was leaving.

I have a few two night trips planned. with these I pretty much just turn up, see the area the next day and then leave the day after. One night trips are just stopovers to somewhere else. I need to make sure I have some three or more night trips here and there to just recharge and work out what to do next.

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Speaking of which, my plans so far take me forward about a week, at which point I'll be entering Panama. The hardest part about this is that to enter, you must have proof that you're leaving. There is a scam that a lot of people do where they book a fake bus and get the money back, but as I'll be flying out to Ecuador, this makes no sense, so I'll more than likely just take the cheapest flight out I can find in the middle of July. Panama looks nice, in places a lot like Costa Rica, but with maybe more in the way of culture? I don't know. There are some islands I can do, but I need to see how cost effective that is.

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On Sunday I plan to stay in a hostel dead in the middle of a jungle, that say's it's 'clothing optional' There's no way I'm stripping off! The reviews are all excellent, but it will be interesting staying in what sounds like a filthy hippy commune with little wifi and electricity but free hiking trails and a better than average chance to see some tapirs (I love me some tapirs!). Tomorrow I'll go halfway there but I have to get a bus at 4am for some ungodly reason!!

Posted by cblanc102 05:37 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged beaches animals monkeys hiking hostels costa_rica trails south_america central_america latin_america solo_travel Comments (0)

I was aiming for the horse!

hostels and happy accidents


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My new place for the next two days. Very open to nature!

I wake up at 6 am now. Every day, without an alarm. It's just where my body clock has ended up I think, I never woke up this early before, even for work, but at 8:20 am I've had breakfast, two cups of coffee (Costa Rican style!), been to the beach (closed until 9:30), came back and swam in the pool, registered my drone for Costa Rican flight and washed and hung out my clothes. If only I was this motivated generally!

It's easy here, as the howler monkeys have been at it since the early hours. It's a nice way to wake up. Here is an apartment complex of sorts. collection of about eight wood and metal cabins some 200 meters from the beach set around a pool in between the forest and a mangrove swamp.

I decided to stay in a more expensive place for a couple of days (it's about twice as much as a hostel) because I need a bit of a rest and recharge. In the first 20 days of this trip I have walked well over 80 miles. Many of them through pretty harsh terrain, up steep hills and in heat topping the mid 30s. If I haven't lost some bloody weight by now, nothing will do it!

The past few days have been great and it was all by chance and by finally getting into 'hostel mode', where I become a little more sociable and spend less time by myself. I only really stayed in a hostel in Bangkok last year as the hotel rooms were generally so cheap there was no need to bother with them. But the hostels here have been mostly a trial for me. The one I stayed in twice at San Jose, while having everything I need (free breakfast, nice beds, hot water) seemed to make me somewhat depressed, although I think it had more to do with the city than than the place of sleep.
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Hostel Plinio in Quepos

The hostel in Quepos however, was a great experience, and as I warmed to hostelling in general, I spent more time with the people, which in turn has led to more opportunities.

I met joey in the bar. A 74 year old American who's in there every night as far as I can tell. A bit of a character, he's lived in Costa Rica for a few years in an apartment up the road from the hostel. He tells me he's been travelling since 1972, but I think he's pretty settled now. He told me of a route South that takes me to where I want to go via a ferry that goes through forests and mangrove swamps. Tours like this are pretty expensive here, so to find a ferry that not only takes me where I want to go, but through lush beautiful landscape for just $15 is perfect!

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Some Costa Rican critters!

I had a tour booked on Saturday to go to Manuel Antonio park, a National Park some 5 km away that is supposed to be one of the highlights of Costa Rica. I was booked to leave at 7 am. No one turned up. No one even contacted me until 10 pm that night with some rubbish excuse. After waiting an hour, I walked back to my room where a young girl was sat. Her name is Olivwia (not a typo, Polish mother). She told me that she was having trouble booking a ticket to the park, I told her what had happened to me so she game me the money and I booked tickets for both of us for the next day. While we were planning our trip, a guy called Tim sat with us. Tim's an American, 23 currently living in Vegas who has randomly been turning up where I am for the past 2 days, so we've spoken a bit, but not much past "Hello, where are you from?".

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Tim and Olivia hiking through the jungle

Tim tells us about an out of the way waterfall that someone told him about. Apparently you need to hike for an hour to get there but it's worth the effort. So we all decide to go together. It was a very tough hike, through rain forest, rivers with no crossings, dilapidated bridges like something out of Indiana Jones and ropes down rock faces, but yes, it was well worth the effort. We saw loads of animals, including monkeys and two random dogs that followed us to the waterfall and back then disappeared, we climbed rocks, waded through rivers and then swam in a pool at the bottom of the waterfall that we had all to ourselves. We didn't see anyone else the whole time. It was tiring, but a pretty magical day that we ended with another little hike to a beach we had all to ourselves for sunset.

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The Waterfall pool at the end of our hike

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Our private sunset

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One of the two beaches at Manuel Antonio National Park

Sunday, Oliwia and I went to the National Park. Again, it was an amazing day. Beautiful beaches where we swam in the Pacific which was almost bath water warm, we hiked through the forest spotting iguanas, deer, frogs, sloths and three breeds of monkeys. The highlight though was climbing up a hill to find a family of ten or so Capuchin Monkeys who could not have been less bothered by our presence. You're not allowed to take any food in the park with you, so the monkeys aren't always attacking you thinking you can feed them. We sat with them for half an hour, at times less than a foot away as they played. It was a once in a lifetime experience.

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One of about 200 pics of monkeys and sloths I have

Yesterday we sadly split up some, as Tim headed back for San Jose before he returns home and Oliwia and I headed south here to Uvita. It's been nice to have someone to talk to for more than a day, although we'll probably go our separate ways either tomorrow or the end of the week as she heads North and I head south into Panama. This is how travelling is. It's crazy and temporary and the only way really that I would end up spending days with a 23 and 19 year old nowadays, and it all came about because some lazy bastards didn't come pick me up for a tour. But it's fantastic.

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I did smash my finger on a rock though hiking!!

Posted by cblanc102 15:41 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged beaches monkeys hiking costa_rica beauty south_america central_america latin_america sloths solo_travel Comments (0)

Travel Madness!!

It's about to get a LOT quieter around here

Since arriving in Costa Rica I have met a lot of young Brits. The country has been letting in anyone without need of a vaccination or even PCR test since about October last year, so it seems to be the gap year place of choice for many 18 / 19 year olds.

That's all about to change as it looks likely that by the time I post this, Costa Rica will be on the UK's Red list which will come into effect Tuesday. These kids, who have mostly been here three or four months, now need to get back to the UK before then or face a £1750 quarantine in a Holiday Inn for 10 nights. Some of these kids were on the ball and got a PCR test yesterday and flights back to the UK. Others, including two young girls in my room, have been less lucky (or less smart) and are worried that they will have to fly via another country (they're looking at Italy as one of them has family there). No one will go to a quarantine hotel, they'll fly somewhere on the amber list and spend the money there, why would they do anything else?

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more photos of nothing to do with the narrative, this is my room though, very nice. My bed is the bottom left.

The cheapest reasonable flight back to the UK (one that doesn't take 37 hours) is currently £350, about £100 more than you'd expect. I have no idea what this will end up as this evening after the official announcement. Another reason not to fly directly back to the UK. This can't help curb the spread of any virus surely? Still, about 30% of the people I've met here are young Brits, so there could be a sharp decline in the number of filled up hostel and hotel beds.

None of this affect me though, as I'm not leaving for ages and I don't think I'll be leaving from Costa Rica, although at the moment, Ecuador, Panama and Peru are all red list countries so If needs be I'll fly home via 10 days in Orlando or Morocco for a cheaper option.

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Cute lizard sitting next to me as I type

Yesterday ended up being a literal washout for me. I had decided to walk to a local beach, about 4 km away, for a bit of exercise rather than getting a bus for 30p. It should have taken about an hour. The walk was ok, but very hilly, some of the steepest roads I've ever walked up. it it was bloody hot at 8am, around 28 degrees.

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All like this. Insane. I don't know how some of the old bangers they drive round here made it.

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Some beautiful views though

Eventually, I came to a gate with a pathway heading down through the forest to the beach. It was about here when it started raining. Only a bit, not too bad. By the time I got to the beach I was in the middle of a downpour, with very little cover. I got drenched. The sky looked ok a ways away, so I hung around for a bit and it did start to clear, for all of 5 minutes until it got even worse. By this point I figured I couldn't get any much wetter, but was worried about the stuff in my bag, my camera, tablet etc and didn't think it would improve, so I made my way back, up the pathway through the woods that had now become a stream, before finally hitting the road.

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I must have looked more pathetic than usual as at one point an American woman stopped and gave me a lift a kilometer or so, which was nice of her, but I finally got back to the hostel around an hour after the beach. The weather was of course beautiful at this point. I had left so early in the day because the weather 'experts' said it would be lovely until about midday and then horrible for the rest of the day. It was pretty much the exact opposite.

At this point I remembered my passport was in my pocket! It was soaked, like it had been through a washing machine. I carefully dried each page before leaving it out in the sun to dry off, which it did pretty well. Phew. The camera and tablet were both fine in my bag, which was good.

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Damp but usable, this is also the name of your sex tape

New tip - Always have a plastic bag with you to protect your stuff in Costa Rica!

Posted by cblanc102 18:02 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged rain beach hostels weather costa_rica south_america central_america latin_america quarantine solo_travel Comments (0)

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