Central America Costa Rica North America

Costa Rica

Stories and Photos from my travels around Costa Rica.

DestinationNorth America 》 Central America 》 Costa Rica

Year Visited: 2012 – May


Costa Rica, set between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, and bordered by Panama and Nicaragua, is a rugged and rain-forested country in Central America. Settled as a colony of Spain in the early 16th century, Costa Rica gained its independence in 1821.

Costa Rica is known for its long-standing and stable democracy; it historically managed to stay away from the political turmoil and violence from which neighboring nations still suffer. Costa Rica constitutionally abolished its army permanently since 1949.

Costa Rica is known for its highly educated workforce; it has more teachers (36,000) than Police officers (12,000) in the country. With around 24% of the country’s land area are national parks and protected areas, Costa Rica is a popular destination for Eco Tourism.

As I was working full time during 2012, I had only 5 days in the country. I made San Jose my base and joined organized day trips to the rain Forests, volcanoes and a waterfall. I would love to go back and explore Costa Rica and rest of the Central America in near future.

Pictures below are from my 5 days stay in Costa Rica.

San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, is on a plateau in the Central Valley at 1200 m (3,700 ft) elevation. It is ringed by lush green mountains and valleys. The downtown area is a bustling collection of well-laid-out streets filled with bustling traffic, lined with historic building and friendly people.

The National Theatre of Costa Rica (Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica), Opened in 1897, is located in Plaza de La Cultura, a popular public square. The building is considered the finest historic building in the capital.
Side view of The National Theatre of Costa Rica from Plaza de La Cultura, a popular public square.
Iglesia La Merced, a Catholic church, built during 1890s in the Neo-Gothic style, rises in the heart of the San Jose. It stands out for a single central tower that shows a strong influence of German Gothic architecture.
The Central Post and Telegraph Building, built in 1917, is one of the most emblematic historic buildings in San José.
The national museum of Costa Rica, located in the Bellavista Fortress, a historic building opposite the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica. The fortress was built in 1917 and was originally a military barracks: the exterior walls still have many bullets lodged in them from the country’s 1948 civil war.
Musicians, three of many sculptures in the central park of San Jose. The metropolitan cathedral of San Jose in background along with the famous bandstand.
The Temple of Music in the Morazán Park, built in 1920, is an almost exact replica of the Temple of Love and Music located in the Palace of Versailles, France. The Morazán Park is one of the most important urban spaces as it is constantly used for a multitude of events and cultural activities since 1887.
This Costa-Rican prince was having fun feeding pigeons.
Right place at the right time, caught this mom feeding her grown up baby.
San José Central Market, established in 1880 , is the largest market in the city of San José. The market contains a complex of narrow alleys with over 200 shops, stalls, and cheap restaurants called sodas. A huge range of meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, coffees, and other products are for sale including souvenirs, and local handcrafts.
Typical Vegetables and meat shops in the Central Market.
Ice Cream at a century old La Sorbetera de Lolo Mora. An Ice-Cream store that has been in operation since 1901, serving only one flavor of Ice cream made out of 7 ingredients; nutmeg, cinnamon, old spice, cloves, vanilla, sugar and milk.
My home away from home in Costa Rica.
Two of my favorite Beers in Costa Rica. Imperial is the most popular but I loved Bavaria.

One of the day in Costa Rica, I took an organized tour to visit Doka Coffee Estate, Poas volcano and La Paz Waterfall Gardens.

The first stop on our tour was the Doka Coffee Estate, the largest and one of the oldest coffee plantations in Costa Rica. This plantation supplies up to half of the Costa Rica coffee used world wide by coffee giant – Starbucks.
Coffee Plants in the Doka estate.
Fruits on a Coffee plant.
A Banana Flower in the Doka Coffee Estate.
Heavy fog on the way to Poas Volcano, an active 2,708-metre stratovolcano located within Poas Volcano National Park.
View point of the main crater of Poas Volcano.
At almost a mile (1.6 km) across Poas is the largest active crater in the world. When the mist and clouds part you’ll see the sulfuric, bubbling, green rain fed lake at the bottom, surrounded by smoke and steam rising from fumaroles. Water from the lake is constantly seeping through cracks in the hot rock, evaporating and building pockets of steam.
At Poas Volcano.
Trails that lead through cloud forest stunted and twisted, not only by volcanic emissions but the rigors of the cold windy high altitude habitat. Lake Botos, an extinct crater filled with rain water, is home to many cloud forest birds including hummingbirds.
Hiking through the cloud forest
A very colorful Souvenir shop near Poas Volcano.
hummingbirds near Poas Volcano.
Extremely large leaves of Gunnera insignis near Poas Volcano. These large leaves are also known by the name ‘Sombrilla de pobre’ (poor man’s umbrella) in Costa Rica.
On the way to La Paz waterfall.
La Paz (the peace), a 37 meters high waterfall is formed by the River La Paz after traversing 8 kilometers (5 mi) of volcanic terrain.
Upstream from the waterfall is La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park, a privately-owned, Ecological park, where visitors can observe many different species of local wildlife and 3.5 kilometers of Cloud and Rainforest Hiking Trails. This area is rich in bio diversity thanks to an altitude of that varies between 4,000 and 5,000 feet, allowing for both cloud forest and rain forest to co-exist.
An Ox cart at La Paz Waterfall Gardens.
A beautiful Toucan in an aviary at La Paz Waterfall Gardens.
The black-bellied whistling duck resting on a tree.
The pupal transformation into a butterfly.
Poison dart frog, formerly known as poison arrow frog, are often called “dart frogs” due to the Native Americans’ use of their toxic secretions to poison the tips of blow-darts.
The strawberry poison-dart frog
A blue jeans frog, is the strawberry poison-dart frog with splashes of blue on its limbs.
A huge Hercules beetle, a species of rhinoceros beetle, native to the rainforests of Central America. It is the longest extant species of beetle in the world, and is also one of the largest flying insects in the world.
La Paz Waterfalls Garden has hundreds of hummingbirds, they are free to come & go as they please.
A hummingbird at La Paz Waterfalls Garden.
A hummingbird at La Paz Waterfalls Garden.
A hummingbird at La Paz Waterfalls Garden.
Pitcher plants, a carnivorous plants which have modified leaves known as pitfall traps—a prey-trapping mechanism featuring a deep cavity filled with digestive liquid. The plants attract and drown their prey with nectar.
A northern pearly eye butterfly in La Paz Waterfalls Garden.

While in Costa Rica, I joined an organized tour of Rainforest Adventure from San Jose; visiting Boat ride on Sarapiqui River, Walking on the Selva Verde Trails and Rain forest Arial Tram.

The first stop of the day tour was for a Boat ride on Sarapiqui River through Mangrove forests.
The Sarapiqui River
A turtle is relaxing in Sun by the Sarapiqui River.
An anhinga, a water bird, is sunbathing.
The great blue heron is relaxing in Sun by the Sarapiqui River.
A Green Heron stalking on a river bank. It is one of only few bird species that is known to use tools to capture food. Instead of getting its feet wet, the green heron typically perches on emergent vegetation or low-hanging branches at the water’s edge, and will use objects – twigs, feathers, crusts of bread – to lure fish within reach. When small fish come to investigate the object, the bird will strike, rapidly extending its neck and dagger-like beak. The victim is usually swallowed whole.
A green iguana relaxing in Sun by the Sarapiqui River. A green iguana is a large lizard that grows to 1.5 meters (4.9 ft) in length from head to tail with body weights upward of 20 pounds (9.1 kg).
A green iguana in the tree, looks like a dragon.
A male plumed basilisk, commonly know as the emerald basilisk, with brilliant green color, bright yellow eyes, and small bluish spots along the dorsal ridge. Males have three crests: one on the head, one on the back, and one on the tail. They are also known as Jesus Christ lizards for their ability to run on the surface of water.
Proboscis bats, also know as Long nose proboscis bats or River bats, sleeping on a tree nose to tail in a straight row, forming the appearance of a snake to protect against predators.
A Baby Black Pelican in her nest.
Many varieties of Banana grow in Costa Rica.
Next stop on the tour was Selva Verde Lodge. During a short hike through it’s rain forest trails, we spotted almost similar insects, plants, frogs, birds and flowers, as the La Paz Waterfall Gardens. I have only few pictures from this Lodge.
A suspension bridge at Selva Verde Lodge, Hiking through the rain forest.
A giant spider waiting for its prey.
Spotted this male Slaty-tailed trogon during the hike at Selva Verde Lodge
Spotted many kinds of Orchids during the hike.
Spotted many kinds of Orchids during the hike.
The Last stop of the day was Rainforest Adventure Atlantic Aerial Tram to see the rainforest of Braulio Carrillo National Park from above the tree tops
The Aerial Tram provides 2 level, 70 minute open-air gondola ride in the forest canopy.
A bird’s eye view of the Costa Rican rainforest
A bird’s eye view of the Braulio Carrillo National Park, one of the Jurassic Park movie location.
While on an Aerial Tram, spotted a spider monkey jumping through trees.

While in Costa Rica I tool another organized day trip to Arenal Volcano and Tabacón Hot Springs. This was a relaxing tour, highly recommended for couples.

On the way to Arenal Volcano, the first stop was at the artisan town of Sarchí.
Lunch stop with view of Arenal Volcano.
A viewing platform and a short hike near Arenal Volcano.
Arenal, one of the most active volcanoes of Central America, stands more than 5,000 feet high.
As a part on an organized tour we got a day pass to Tabacon Resort, a true 5-star thermal resort with pristine thermal water flowing into waterfalls, cascading pools and hidden bathing spots.
One of four swimming pools the resort.
A cascading thermal waterfall. The springs are truly natural, no paved bottom.
Tabacon is set on more than 900 acres of lush tropical reserve, home to Costa Rica’s largest network of naturally flowing hot springs.
Tabacon has acres of native flora.
One of many well crafted steps during day and night.
Beautifully designed pools side couples’ cabana.
A local resident at the Tabacon.
Handicraft shops across the Tabacon Hot Springs Spa.

Because of it’s fertile land and tropical weather, Costa Rica is home to the most beautiful flowers.

A Red colored Passion flower.
Alstroemeriaceae, a plant that produces clusters of variously-colored, bell-shaped flowers.
Blue Heaven Hydrangeas
Etlingera elatior, also known as torch ginger, ginger flower, red ginger lily, and porcelain rose.
Flowers of Ornamental Ginger plant.
Heliconia psittacorum also known as parrot’s plantain, false bird-of-paradise or Lobster Claw.
Heliconia tortuosa, another verity of Heliconia also known as false bird-of-paradise, parrot’s beak, parakeet flower, parrot’s flower or Lobster Claw.
Fruits of a Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii), a palm species resemblances to genuine bamboo.
Pachystachys lutea, known by the common names lollipop plant and golden shrimp plant,
Anthurium also know as Flamingo Flower or Laceleaf
Don’t remember name of this plant.
Beautiful leaves of beefsteak plant.
Flowers of Lavender
Cherry Blossom
Red Banana.

After five days in Costa Rica, It was time to go back to my home in Dallas. Costa Rica has lot to offer, though because of limited time, I couldn’t explore more. I would definitely like to come back and explore more.

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