Costa RicaPosted by Malin Thu, May 05, 2011 05:06:47
final swim in the Pacific Ocean we were on our way to Turrialba again. Andrea
and Georg decided to join us on the road for a few days.
The Patrol and the Toyota
slowly climbed the hills from sea level and up to 3300 meters. It was a great
drive and the views must be amazing on clear days, if there ever are any clear
days up here.
WE MADE IT
TO TURRIALBA! At Hotel Interamericana we
meet up with Stevie and Tree from Sprinterlife.com. It was really nice to see
them again as we hadn’t been able to hook up since Antigua in Guatemala.
parking lot in front of the Hotel turned out to be an overland campground for a
night. Beside the crowd with drunk people, one police man on foot, two on
motorbikes, and two that arrived in a police car, that all came to tell these
drunks to get moving at around midnight, it was a peaceful night. We left
Sprinterlife the next morning and headed for the Caribbean Coast. Steve and
Tree were on their way back to the capital San Jose to catch a flight to Mexico
to meet up with family. That sounded kind of familiar… Anyway.
The closer we
got to the coast and Puerto Limon the more banana plantations and containers we
saw along the road.
Uva we found the perfect beach, and at Restaurant El Arrecife we could camp
directly on the beach. Our planned stay of one night turned into three nights.
Here are a few photos to show why it is sometimes ‘difficult to get back on the
road on an overland journey. It would be great to just stay on forever, but then
it was the dream of driving from Alaska to Argentina…
Costa RicaPosted by Malin Mon, May 02, 2011 20:32:03
Even if it
was just a few days since we left the beach in Nicaragua we felt it was just
fine with some more beach hopping on the Nicoya Peninsula. After a long day
driving back roads again, this time from Arenal to Nicoya, we did find our way
to Sámara Beach and Camping Los Cocos. Our home these days was as good as it
gets, with this as the view from our penthouse bedroom window, and all for 12
USD a night J
We had some
relaxing days on the beach watching the beach life with tourists, kayaks,
icecream sellers, horses, dogs, and the tide coming and going. While
we were there it was full moon and the forecast said it would be the highest
tide in a long time. The result came one day as the waves washed into the
campsite, but that was no problem for us with a roof top tent.
Franc and Isabelle with their friends from Switzerland, came to Sámara so that
we could have a birthday celebration.
Espen and Isabelle actually have birthdays
on the same day, and we thought it would be fun to celebrate the day together. We
had a great evening with a great dinner and drinks, and now they are both one
camp on the beach had kind of a decline as we got closer and closer to Semana
Santa (Easter Holiday), which we had heard is the biggest Holiday in Costa Rica
and actually in all over Central America. For Semana Santa everyone is going to
the beach and many are camping. In the other Central American countries we have
travelled through we have hardly seen any local’s camp. We have seen a few
local campers and people sleeping right on the beach, but no one in tents. In
Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua it was hard to find campgrounds, but as soon
as we crossed into Costa Rica we found campgrounds again and even signs for
them. On our first night in Sámara it was only us and one other tent, but as
Easter Thursday drew closer it got more and more crowded.
the sky suddenly opened up and it was pouring down with rain. We were sitting
in La Manga restaurant eating the best Italian pizza we’ve had on this trip since
it started. After waiting one hour for the rain to stop, we decided just make a
run home. Completely soaked and getting closer to “home” the rain stopped.
Walking into the campground we could see that most parts of it had become
flooded from the rain. One of the few areas that were not under water was where
we were parked with our roof top tent popped up, and ,technically, we would be
the only ones that did not need to be in a none flooded spot. Ironic. After the
rain stopped it took only about half an hour for the water to drain into the
ground, but many of the tents remained full off water. A few people left, but
most people dried out their tents as good as possible and spent the night
before they left the next day.
morning (Wednesday) we were woken up at 5 o’clock by a lot of noise and loud
talking. When we looked out we got the feeling that we were in a refugee camp,
except people were happy and energetic. People came down the driveway to the
campground carrying, madrasses, cooking equipment, and “all” that they owned.
Even big electric fans to put up inside the tents!! A bus must have arrived from San Jose with the
Easter tourists we had heard so much about. It was incredible to watch 40-50
people in all ages put up camp at 5 o’clock in the morning. It got a little bit
too crowded for our taste, and we decided to move on even if the owner said it
would be hard for us to get out this day. But by moving only a couple of tents
and some tables and chairs were we able to drive the Patrol out of the
on our beach hopping tour was Islita,
located in a nice bay, where we stopped for lunch and a swim in the sea. A
little further south, at Playa Bejuco, we just stopped to have a look, and as
we walked away from the car some people used the opportunity to pose for photos
in front of the car while they thought we did not see them.
They are not the
first ones to do it, and we guess we have to take it as a compliment. Our camp
for the night was at Playa Coyote where a monkey peed on our car right after we
stopped, but everyone else here were very friendly.
continued down along the coast. As we were closing in on Manzanillo the GPS
told us about a road going down to the beach and it was labeled “4x4 only”. We
gave it a try, but didn’t know if we would be able to continue from there.
Around a curve we saw this group of people with 4x4 cars and figured they must
be the perfect people to ask for directions.
They were just as interested in us
and the Patrol as we were about their vehicles, and we had a good chat. They
had just pulled a Jeep out of the river a bit further down. The day before the
Jeep had taken a few wrong turns and ended up in the wrong, muddy spot in the
river and got stuck. Later on the tide came in and the level of the river
raised, and you can see on the windshield the marks of the water level.
Obviously the car would not drive anymore, and as we were there a truck came
and picked it up. After a confirmation about being on the right road, and that it
was just to cross the river at the right spot, we continued. The road led to
the beach, and on low tide (as it was now) it was possible to drive 4-5 km on
the beach down to Playa Manzanillo.
It was a beautiful drive.
we found our perfect camping spot at Camping Mar Azul. For Semana Santa it was
not very crowded, and we had power and internet in our site on the beach.
here for three nights, but we should have stayed one or two more... For some
reason we decided to get the last bit of the Costa Rican Easter feeling, the
rush to get back to San Juan the last day of the holiday. Right now we cannot
tell what made us come to the conclusion that this would be a good day for a
380 km drive to Turrialba east of San Jose, but we gave it a try. A 7.15 start
in the morning got us to Paquera just in time to catch the 9 o’clock ferry to
Puntarenas (on a normal day). By taking the ferry across the Golfo de Nicoya we
would save 180 km of driving. Well, as it was the end of Semana Santa the 9
o’clock ferry was full and left without us. We were not the only ones left on
the pier for the next ferry at 11 o’clock. The ferry crew counted up and gave
the 150 cars that would fit on the ferry passes, but we were not among the 150
cars. It was room for us on the 1 o’clock ferry though… The decision was made to do the 180 km drive
around the bay. For the first 100 km there was not much traffic, but as we got
close to the Pan-Am Highway it was full stop 4,5 km away from the intersection.
Finally on the Pan-Am the traffic was good for a few kilometers, and then it
stopped. …and moved a little bit. …and stopped… At one point it got really slow
and we hardly moved for another 4-5 km. The cause for it this time was not an
intersection, but actually a Red Cross person at a first aid station handing
out flyers?!!? It was probably for a good cause, but to hold up Easter traffic
for 45 minutes is pretty incredible. After this we decided that this was not
the day to drive past San Jose to get to Turrialba, and that it would be better
to drive towards the Easter traffic. We took off from the Pan-Am and set our course
to Uvita and Flytterby House further south on the Pacific coast. We had some
friends, Georg and Andrea (www.toyotours.com) that had been there the last 14
days so we knew it must be a good place to stay.
Flutterby after 11 hours in the car and 420 km was great and it was good to see
friends again. Flutterby was a really cozy hostel and great place to relax.
to lie in and a nice kitchen for self-cooking, it was great.
Good to be cooking
in a kitchen again and not just on a two burner stow outside the car.
nights here Turrialba is again our destination. This time we will get there!
Costa RicaPosted by Malin Mon, April 25, 2011 19:24:15
We had read
and heard that the roads in Costa Rica should be rougher and good for 4x4
driving. Not long after the border on our way to the Parque Nacional Rincón de
la Vieja area the GPS told us to take a shortcut that was not in our map. We
decided to give it a try. The road got more and more narrow, but it was a
beautiful drive on small farm roads.
When the road took us past some mango
trees with loads of ripe mangoes we just had to stop to pick some.
we had pancakes with mangos and honey for breakfast, and I do not know if we
can have a better start on the day than this.
breakfast we headed up to the Parque Nacional Rincón de la Vieja and
hiled a trail in
the park to have a closer look at
mud pools, boiling hot springs,
(this is the steam from the boiling hot springs in the trees)
National Park area we wanted to try some back roads to Arenal instead of
driving back to the Highway. A couple of the roads we took was privately owned,
and we had to pay 1, 50 USD per person to drive on these roads. Some of the
roads turned out a lot better than we had expected, but that was because a
windmill park had been put up in the area.
Still, we had a nice drive to Arenal
even if we missed on one turn so that Espen had to drive the last bit on
Arenal is Tom’s German bakery that we had heard rumors about up in Nicaragua. So
when we were in the area, we made sure to stop. It was the best bread we’d had
in a long, long time. We can actually not remember the last time we had so good
bread, but it must have been in a special bakery in North America somewhere.
we read in the Lonely Planet, advertisement and signs along the road, we get
the impression that we can zip line our way through all of Costa Rica. Since our budget does not include those
amounts of money, we will continue to drive the Nissan Patrol across Costa
Rica. Someone said the magic words “Not possible to drive” to Espen regarding
the road on south side of Lago de Arenal, so we had to give it a try.
from the East we had the biggest river crossing in the beginning of the drive,
but it was no problem at all now in the dry season. We can imagine the crossing
will be a little harder in the rainy season, but it is definitely a drivable
The rest of the drive was nice and smooth, and we had some great views of
From the volcano
area we headed to the beaches on Nicoya Peninsula.