Around The World · 36 Days · 60 Moments · June 2018

Adventures from Rio to Costa Rica

4 July 2018

End of another epic travel adventure. We are sitting in LA airport reflecting on the what, where and wow experiences we have just had. This has been one great journey of discovering new places, people and culture and we have loved every single day. 5 countries, 2 for transit. Brazil, Colombia and Costa Rica were fantastic and all had their own magical places. Number of places we had for accomodation-11, best one: Santa Marta, coolest: Tayrona National park in hammock, most relaxing and beautiful: Physis, Puerto Viejo. The others were outstanding and would rate all 8 or 9. Modes of transport: 11 flights on various airlines, trains, busses, cabs, trams, trolley bus, cable car, TukTuks, bikes, motor bikes, helicopter, boat and car. Best memory was Tayrona National park hike. Best beaches were Manuel Antonio and Puerto Viejo, with Tayrona very close. Best food was the street food in Medellin. Lots of love to Ali for organising all this adventure.

3 July 2018

Long drive back to San Jose and along the way a few refreshment stops at some cool places. 240ks in 6 hours was a huge mission. Totally exhausted concentrating in the crazy traffic conditions here. Funniest bit we experienced was nearing the top of the mountain pass on the one lane highway still in the jungle the traffic suddenly stopped for no reason and next thing these guys selling local snacks appeared and began selling at car windows. We sat still in this jam for 30 mins then moved away again and never saw any roadworks,any accident or any breakdown that could have held up traffic,plus there was no where these sellers could have prepared their food to sell . We were basically on a jungle mountain top far from anything. Very strange. Made it to our destination and settled into our first big chain hotel of this trip. Bit of glamour for the last night but it will never compete with the fantastic places we have stayed during the 5 weeks.

2 July 2018

Last day on the Caribbean coast. We are definitely going to miss this place. It is a perfect place to chill out and unwind. We biked into the small beach town of Puerto Viejo and explored the cute streets that are dotted with souvenir shops,cafes,restaurants and Caribbean style bars. The locals are friendly,chatty and smile lots. After our final spend up we headed to the beaches and visited Playa Chiquita , and the two beaches at Punta Uva. We had our final swim in the beautiful Caribbean and finished it off with a delicious coconut milk and banana smoothie, made at a cool beach cafe. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye from this piece of paradise.

1 July 2018

A visit to one more stunning national park in Costa Rica was our main objective for today. Cahuita National Park lies around 15k north ofPuerto Vieja. The walking track runs along the coast for 10ks on the edge of the jungle and touching the beach. It’s very natural and cool animals appearing along its length. We saw a few Raccoons which was a treat as this was one animal that is everywhere in Costa Rica but we had not seen one until today. They are into everything , scavenging for any food scraps and there is no fear of humans. Just as we were finishing the track it began to rain ,but a light rain, not like the pacific coast sides huge thunderstorms. We headed for a snack waiting for the rain to pass in a cool Rastafarian style restaurant. Very good fun and great vibe in the small town of Cahuita.

30 June 2018

Fantastic day at Puerto Viejo. We grabbed the cycles and headed to the Jaguar Rescue Center. It’s a volunteer operated rescue Center that cares and nurtures lost and injured jungle animals. The animals are cared for until they can be re-introduced back into their natural habitat. We saw lots of beautiful animals ,reptiles and birds. The volunteers are mainly overseas students and travellers that stay and work at the Center for anything from 3 months to a year or more. From the rescue Center we cycled along the beach road to Manzanillo nature park,stopping along the way to check out some of the beautiful Punta uva beaches. On our return cycle we popped into a few of the local coffee stops and a great little bakery. Beautiful scenery, great area and loved the feel of this place.

29 June 2018

Manuel Antonio on the Pacific coast to Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast was our journey today. We started our drive early to beat the traffic on the main highway to the Caribbean ,a total of 390 kilometres to travel. It took us exactly 9 hours and we only took one stop to see the Crocodiles from the Tarcoles road bridge. There are over 2 thousand Crocs along a 2 to 3 k stretch of the river and the majority are over 6 foot....Regarding the long 9 hour drive we now understand why people say don’t drive in Costa Rica. There are literally thousands of huge trucks on the high way that is for the most 70 % single lane traffic ,no passing areas and very steep windy mountain roads through the jungle. One broken down truck can cause a tailback for kilometres and a delay of more than an hour ,which we experienced a few times along this trip. All we can say is the long 9 hours was definitely worth the trip as Puerto Viejo is absolutely stunning .

27 June 2018

Fantastic day of exploring Manuel Antonio national park. The entrance to the park is 50m from our hostel so once we purchased tickets we strolled in. The park prohibits hawkers so it was a great relief and a peaceful day of sightseeing. There are some amazing pristine beaches in the park so we decided today we would enjoy a bit of beach time and swimming along with hiking and searching for the wild animals. The water was incredible and so warm. Along the tree lined beach Capuchin monkeys kept everyone amused with their antics and how they constantly attempted to steal people’s belongings that were lying on the sand. We hiked most of the tracks, some very steep and in the heat and humid conditions became harder than we thought,but definitely worth doing as we saw many species of monkeys, Cayman crocs and lots of other jungle animals. Overall a great day with fantastic weather and scenery.

26 June 2018

Woke up at 5.30am and had a 2k walk to the surf beach through the small surf town of Dominical .Rain had stopped but still lots of muddy roads to contend with. The surf beach was getting set up for the day with surf booths and stalls dotted along the tree line of the beach. After our breakfast at our hotel we headed up into the mountains to visit Nauyaca falls. We made it half way along the track hiking before another big thunderstorm hit so as the track was already hard to navigate from the previous storm we decided for safety to turn back. Lucky we did as it rained hard . As we left Dominical area and headed North towards Manuel Antonio the rain cleared and it gradually got hotter and quite humid. Manuel Antonio is a tourist town that sits on the entrance to Costa Rica’s number 1 National park for tourism. The town is super cool and already we have seen and heard lots of different animals,monkeys,sloths etc,all close up.

25 June 2018

A long day of driving today. First we experienced why the Costa Ricans say “pura vida” to almost every situation. Translated it means a way of life. Our pura vida experience was stuck for 40 mins on a non sealed road due to a slip and the locals working to reopen the road, then stuck for another 30 mins in traffic as the political parties had their election procession. A 3.5 hour drive became 6 hours but we made it to Dominical by 2 pm. Our hotel is nestled in the jungle about a kilometre from the small town. The town is a popular surf town and has a hippie feel to it. Very cool cafes and eateries. Around 4 pm we walked into the town then just as we arrived a monster thunderstorm hit . Lucky we found a great cafe to hide away and drink beauty Costa Rican coffee

24 June 2018

Big day today. First up we headed to Monte Verde and the cloud forest to see the hanging bridges. There are 8 bridges hanging above the jungle canopy varying in length from 90meters to 200meters. The scenery was incredible. From there we headed to Selva Tyra adventure park to experience Costa Rica’s longest zip line ride. We completed all 8 of the zip lines including the superman which is 2k long and you reach speeds of 70k. The last part of the zip line is an optional monster Tarzan swing.The Tarzan swing was definitely an adrenaline rush but great fun and an experience not to miss. That evening we had a 2.5 hour night jungle hike to explore the plants and animals. Along the hike we saw close up snakes,spiders, and much more, all with the knowledge that these creatures can kill humans with their bite. Definitely a day of beauty,adventure and learning.

23 June 2018

22 June 2018

Today we visited La Fortuna waterfall. Once we arrived at the entrance to the waterfall area a descent of 500 steps was needed to reach the bottom of the waterfall. Once there we joined the other sightseeing tourists and got in for a swim. The water was very refreshing especially with the temp sitting at a humid 30 degrees. After our climb up the steps we headed to a place the locals go for dip. It’s no charge just a short walk to a river that is a hot water river. It runs constantly with water heated from underground springs all along its route. Very different sitting in 30 degree plus water in the jungle . We were three amongst many locals, all making their own personal pools with the available river rocks. Great experience and I even found one small area of the river that had an occasional burst of colder water. Totally refreshing and a great way to spend our last day in the area of La Fortuna.

21 June 2018

Woke up to a beautiful hot day. Clear skies and perfect views of the volcano. First stop was at the base of the Arenal volcano hike. We followed the track along the area of the last lava flow from the 2008 eruption to a view point . Fantastic hike and stunning views of the volcano and surrounding area. After the hike we headed to Mystico hanging bridges. This is an eco jungle park. We took the 2 hour hike through the dense jungle and many high swing bridges. Great experience and the scenery was awesome. Super humid today and at times a struggle on some of the climbs in the jungle. A well deserved dip in our hotel pool was the reward after our two long hikes .

20 June 2018

Finally got to Costa Rica. Stayed the night in a low budget hotel near the airport then up early to meet Laura . She arrived around 7 from LA. Sorted the rental car ,our main mode of transport for the next few weeks and headed to La Fortuna a town at the base of the Arenal Volcano. On arrival the temp was a hot sticky 34 degrees but around 4pm a huge tropical storm hit the area. Monster thunder storm extremely cool to experience..

18 June 2018

This is our last full day in Colombia and we made the most of it. We experienced Medellín Metro train service and found it clean fast and efficient. Headed on the Metro for a visit to the Botanical gardens near the University first. It was like a piece of the jungle in the middle of the city. Well worth the visit. From there we hopped back on the Metro and spent a few hours looking around the Historical area of Medellín. Botero Plaza was visited along with a couple of the museums. Again a Metro ride to the bottom of Communa 13,once known as the city’s most notorious violent districts ,but now a very popular tourist haunt. We spent 3 hours walking up the Communa on a local graffiti and history tour. This was definitely worth doing and an amazing experience. Got to say Colombia is better than we could ever have imagined. So glad we visited and explored. Great people,culture and scenery. Medellín by far the best and friendliest city.

17 June 2018

Pablo Escobar and the Netflix show Narcos is what most people’s first thoughts of Medellín is. The city is now classed as very safe with lots of attractions for tourists. Obviously Pablo Escobar’s name comes up sooner or later. We headed for a visit to Guatape and El Penon on an organised tour. After much deliberation the tour seemed the best option and we have to agree now we have had the experience. 40 people on our coach and 34 were a mix of uni students from USA and Europe. Felt totally at home with the young crowd. First stop was a small original township for a traditional Colombian brekky, then an hour boat ride on the lake,taking in some of the famous lakeside houses.Pablo Escobar’s 2nd most important house was one. Next was El Penon the impressive rock. Beautiful views after a hard climb ,then a visit to Guatape , voted 2nd most colourful town on the planet. No 1 is in China. Today we understand why the people of Colombia and especially Medellín dislike the Netflix show ,Narcos

16 June 2018

Flew into Medellín today. Beautiful new airport and a beautiful 40k drive through the mountains to the city. Medellín sits just under 5000 ft above sea level. Once known as the most dangerous city on the planet it has had a huge make over and is very modern and clean. Our first encounter of the city back this up. We ventured out from our hotel and explored the surrounding streets. What we found is a variety of cool trendy cafes and restaurants everywhere. Great food and great coffee is available in numerous places at every turn. Looks like we are going to enjoy Medellín.

15 June 2018

Last full day in Cartagena so off to the area of Getsemaní to checkout the culture and street art. Getsemaní is another suburb in the walled city that has become a popular tourist area. It’s within walking distance of Centro, the area we are staying so handy to stroll and explore. Getsemaní is very vibrant and colourful. Lots of art shops and cool cafes. After our morning of exploring we headed back to the Centro district and took our time to check out many of the streets and cool shops. On our travels around the streets we visited a few churches all dated mid 1500s and a museums. The museum is the Museum of Inquisition . Interesting and gruesome at the same time. Cartagena is apiece of the Caribbean ,people,colour noise and fun in a corner of Colombia.

14 June 2018

After our long bus ride yesterday(5hours,plus) then a 40 min taxi we finally arrived at our hotel in Cartagena,and hit the sack. An early rise today and temp was already hitting 30 degrees. We headed to the old fort which we were told is the largest fortress the Spanish built in the Americas. Cartagena ant the fort ,Castillo San Felipe de Barajas ,were established around 1530. Sir Francis Drake sacked the city and held it to a huge ransom of 10 million pesos. To the Spanish he was a pirate and villain,to the English a hero. The fort is impressive and has a labrynth of passages which have perfect acoustics ,so any noise will travel along the tunnels,helping the defenders to hear noise of invaders using them. On our return to the old walled town of Cartagena we walked around a few streets renowned for the impressive street art. It was around 2.30 pm whilst walking back and the heavens opened and we experienced our first true tropical downpour,thunder,lightning and so much rain.

12 June 2018

Minka in the Sierra Nevada mountains was our journey today. We took the local bus up the twisty road through the jungle . An hour later we arrived at Minka. The trips to the coffee plantation,chocolate factory and waterfall begin here. We took the coffee plantation trip to La Victoria. We had the option of a 90 min hike up the mountain through the jungle to the plantation or a 20 min moto taxi ride. We took the moto taxi which turned out to be a motor bike with a driver,us being the passenger. The coffee plantation is one of the oldest in Colombia and has most of the original machinery from the late 1800s still in operation. Can’t believe the processes to produce just one bag of coffee. From Minka we headed back to Santa Marta and explored the streets,markets and waterfront. Santa Marta is a cool Colombian town with a Caribbean flair to it.

11 June 2018

This is a two part.Sunday 10th Dave’s Birthday,52 years old and his pressy was a trip to Tayrona National park and to stay the night in the park at one of the camp sites. The journey began on a local bus ride to the entrance of the park. Very different sitting on a packed bus and the only English speaking ones. At the park we paid the entrance fee and started our hike. We were in the jungle immediately, over 30 degrees and very muggy. The first hour you trek through steep hilly jungle which is energy sapping and boy do you sweat. I was literally soaked through. We carried over 2 litres of water in each and that had gone by the first hour. Along the route at certain places there are locals selling water carried in and stored in chilli bins. The next hour is a mixture of beach and jungle hiking. Again a bit of hill walking and very hot and sticky. We stayed the night in a hammock and hiked out on Monday after a swim at Cabo San Juan. The pics will tell the story.

10 June 2018

9 June 2018

A very long day today. Had to change our plans and fly into Cartagena instead of Sant Marta. Both are north of Bogota on the Caribbean but a 5 hour drive away from each other. 32 degrees when we landed at 9.30am. We got a shared mini van with 6 others and drove the 5 hour journey. Colombians are all born as formula one drivers I think, I have never been on such an adrenaline rush for such a long time . I seriously don’t understand how we ever saw an accident on the road to Sant Marta. Took me an hour to relax once we arrived. Santa Marta and the towns on the Caribbean coast are the playgrounds for the wealthy Colombians. The town itself is full of narrow streets with old buildings an a never ending flow on street traders that hassle and haggle non stop. Our hotel has to be one of the best we have stayed at from all our different countries visited.

8 June 2018

A busy day exploring Bogota today. Weather was warm ,in early 20s but cloudy and raining on and off. First up was our graffiti tour. Any one visiting Bogota must do this tour, lots of information about the old area of the city. Mid afternoon we walked up to the cable car and took one to the top to visit Monserrate Monastery. It sits at 3160 meters above sea level . Great views of the city. We then headed back into the old city area and visited the gold museum. This is the largest gold museum in the world and so impressive once inside.

7 June 2018

Second part of this trip started today with out flight from Rio to Bogota,Colombia. A 6 hour flight on Avianca with the majority going through strong turbulence was a good test of our nerves. Bogota lies 8000 feet above sea level and is surrounded by some big mountains. The city itself has a population of 8 million. It seems to stretch forever. We are staying in the trendy old part of the city in a boutique hotel,it’s very clean and super cool. This arvo we strolled around the streets and checked out some of the old churches,buildings and art gallery’s/museums. Found a great restaurant that had local dishes on the menu. Great food and cheap.

6 June 2018

Last day in Rio today and what a day. Headed to the south of the city in the area where the Olympic Games were based to an airfield for our helicopter ride. Vertical Rio is the only helicopter business that allows a doors off ride. Wow is all I can say to the experience. The city and the area of Rio stretch forever and with the surrounding peaks makes it one of the Worlds most beautiful cities, Rio is a must to visit and we will definitely return.

5 June 2018

Rio is fast becoming a favourite city of ours and today just added more weight to why. First stop today was Parque Lage. This is an old mansion built early last century for a wealthy businessman and now converted to an art gallery and cafe. From there we walked the two kilometres to Jardim Botânico. It’s a huge park that brings the jungle experience into the city. We were both very impressed with the park and the beauty of it. We spent most of the day wandering around the park before deciding to walk back to our hotel and take in some of the sights and culture of the surrounding areas. The walk took just over 2 hours and took us Leblon beach then back to Copacabana beach front. It is such a vibrant busy city.

4 June 2018

Rained all night and finally stopped early morning. Our plan was to visit Christ the Redeemer statue early morn but it was covered in low cloud so a change of plan to visit Santa Teresa. Here we had a morning coffee in one of the trendy cafes and a couple of the traditional snacks called Pao de queijo. We explored the cool hill side streets and the arty shops then decided to Uber to the Corcovado Cog train. This is the train that takes you up the 710 meter mountain to view the statue of Christ the Redeemer. The clouds had finally dispersed as we reached the top and we were greeted by some fantastic views. This is another must do when visiting Rio.

3 June 2018

Had our first adventure today! We used the Metro,Rios underground train service. Very clean,fast and easy mode of transport. First stop was a visit to Escadaria Selarón, Rios famous steps. Then the ruins of Parque das ruinas, which is a park with an art gallery of an old ruined mansion. You climb to the top and there you have a 360 view. After this ruins we grabbed a Uber and headed to Sugar loaf. Here you get the cable car to the top of Sugar loaf, a 400 meter heigh granite mountain. At the top you get incredible views of Rios coast line and the city. We had a very good but expensive coffee at the restaurant perched at the top. The cable cars are built to hold up to 65 passengers ,similar design to the Swiss alps cable cars. We were lucky on the ascent with around 12 in the car but descending it was crammed full. As we left Sugar loaf we got our first South American downpour and I mean downpour,Wow. Temp today floated around 26 degrees.

2 June 2018

Arrived into Rio just after midnight on Sat 2nd. What a long day of travelling. Got to our hotel around 1.30 and crashed. A bed is heaven after 24 hrs of sitting and standing. Up this morn at 8am then headed out to explore the streets and beach walk of Copacabana. Beautiful tree lined streets, lots of cool eateries. The beach walk is impressive,and at 9.30am it was filling up . Super busy with lots of small stalls and cafes dotted along the beach front. In the arvo we visited Copacabana military fort. The fort started as a military post by the Spanish invaders then grew and developed over the last century’s. Before we headed back to the hotel we walked over to the next neighbourhood , Ipanema,and checked out it’s beautiful beach area and upmarket cavies and shops. It’s been a good day and very hot at mid 30s. Yay for bottled water. Oh forgot to say,I got a haircut at a very trendy Barber shop. It had a bar and cafe in it to relax while you waited plus tv screens with sport channels, ma

1 June 2018

On to Rio 😊 with a nice Emergency Row seat
First stamp of our Journey 😊🌎🛫
Another journey about to commence. We are sitting in Akl airport waiting for our first leg to Buenos Aries. Not much happening apart from coffee drinking and people watching atm.