It is the red #5 on the map below or northwest of Atenas in north central Costa Rica. I will be inside the National Park in a forest at the base of the volcano with great views of it and Lake Arenal, considered one of the best windsurfing lakes in the world. A great week expected! (But not windsurfing!) 🙂
Map of planned trips for this year through February 2019
Clicking on image will make it a little bigger for easier reading.
There is so much to see and so many birds to photograph that it is hard to work them all in! 🙂
Click to see a little larger and thus easier to read. It may be that only people who live here or travel in Costa Rica a lot can appreciate the broad variety of places I have visited in 3 years and this is only the big name places like National Parks. There are so many little towns and places I have visited like Zarcero, Sarchi, Pura Vida Gardens, La Paz Gardens, Zoo Ave, waterfalls, fiestas, farm tours, etc. that simply won’t fit on this little map! Continuous adventure!
I am so fortunate to live in such a beautiful natural place with so much to see and photograph! I love it here! And I enjoy every moment of every day whether traveling, sitting in my garden, or waiting in some long, slow government line. ¡Pura Vida!
AND ADDING TO THE MAP THIS YEAR: I earlier listed some of the places scheduled for my visits the next few months and now I have extended the list for one trip every month through next February 2019. So if any of you guys in the states want to visit, you will have to work around my trips or join me on one of them! 🙂 I have a trip-a-month for May through February with reservations for places that will help fill in the white spaces on the above map with 4 repeats:
Manquenque Ecolodge, Boca del Tapada near Pital on Rio San Carlos (a new wild rainforest & wetlands) Sleeping in a treehouse for the first time! A top birding place seldom seen by most tourists. – January
It promises to be my best “bucket list” year yet here in Costa Rica and I’m doing exactly what I planned to do when I made the decision to move here in retirement for these final “golden years” of life! (The “decision process” was documented earlier on this blog, starting with my first post, June 26, 2014.) Wonderful decision! (Not fully made until September that year.) As my friend Bill Peters at LifeWay used to say: “Every day’s a holiday and every week’s a vacation!” (In jest about working at LifeWay) But when you retire in Costa Rica that is almost true! ☺
Copied from a blog of an expat living in Jaco, Costa Rica. 🙂
The two most important, most used for me are to Alajuela & to San Jose, at Atenas Bus Station:
CLICK TO ENLARGE
These printed schedules can be changed easier than the old painted ones. I go to Alajuela for Aeropost, Pricesmart, Walmart, movies, restaurants, mall But can’t stay too late, last bus back is at 10:30 pm! 🙂 Past my bedtime! 45 minute ride station to station either way
I go to San Jose less often for lawyer, US Embassy, government offices and sometimes museums, concerts, other cultural events. It is also the hub for buses to anywhere in Costa Rica. Next month I will go through San Jose to get to Orosi, Costa Rica. 1 hour ride station to station either way except rush hour is longer
I keep copies of these inside my closet door in case I’m going at an irregular time. The schedules are also posted on the website www.coopetransatenas.com Click “Horario” and then the dropbox down arrow to click the town you want to go to. “Buscar” after choosing the town will give you a full week schedule like the above. In Costa Rica thousands of people use buses every day to go to work or take care of business, medical appointments, shopping, etc.
SALE = to leave or go out of
L aV = Lunes a viernes or Monday to Friday
SAB Y FER = Sábado y ferias or Saturday and holidays
DOM = Domingo or Sunday
FOR BUS SCHEDULES BEYOND ATENAS you English speakers are lucky that there is one in English available at http://thebusschedule.com/EN/cr/index.php in which you fill in the form for where you want to travel, the date and time of day and they will give you a bus itinerary for your trip and often several options. It is what I use to plan my trips. It couldn’t be easier, but some Americans are still afraid to try the buses which go to almost every town in the country. This is the way local people travel! And yes, it is slower than going in your car but at an enormous savings and I would say generally safer plus more social with more cultural experiences and certainly more relaxing than driving. Where I do spend the money (still cheaper than a car) is to avoid some long bus rides I will take one of the local airlines to more distant places. Lazy old man!
One of the Coopetransatenas Buses leaving the Alajuela Station In San Jose there are lots of other bus companies to other towns and most have similar equipment, from Germany, China or Korea usually
The mountains north of where I live contain many small farms and large forest reserves.
I am going to experience that as well as seek out mountain birds, relax, and enjoy great food!
While at Aguila de Osa Hotel on Drake Bay I learned that they were part of a small chain of 4 nature hotels under the name of Greentique Hotels and that one was less than 2 hours from Atenas, just north of San Ramon and not too far from Arenal Volcano, one of the most beautiful in the world! It is Called Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Hotel and Nature Reserve. (Click link or logo for their website.) I decided then to add it to my list of future trips and here it is this Monday-Friday. I have 3 guided birding/nature hikes scheduled and if at least 2 other adults there to make a group, I will take the day trip to Arenal Volcano National Park. Otherwise, more of the reserve!
Based on my experiences in their Drake Bay hotel, I will be happy just hanging out at the hotel grounds and hiking through their reserve. Plus their sister hotel had the best food of any yet in Costa Rica, so that alone may be enough! 🙂 And possibly one relaxation massage! And of course lots of photographs, especially of birds and other nature! If the internet connection is good there, I will try to post daily reports with photos.
If anyone is paying that close attention to all my trips, this in some ways will be similar to my other cloud forest places visited, though all are unique. San Gerardo de Dota is the best place for photographing the Resplendent Quetzal bird and most lodges there are a little more rustic, catering mostly to birders in steeper mountain terrain. I’ve been there 3 times so far and will go again! I’ve been to Monteverde once and it may be more similar to Villa Blanca terrain on top of a mountain, though Monteverde has lots of small local hotels & cabinas and two national parks plus one big commercial hanging bridges park. It is harder to get to, driving up a steep mountain on a gravel road and a little more “touristy” than I prefer, but I got a lot of bird photos there and will go again! My other mountain experiences weren’t quite high enough to be considered “Cloud Forests” but were each good in their own ways. And the adventures continue! See reports of each in my gallery TRIPS.
I’m coming close to my 3-year anniversary living here (December) and have traveled the entire country, visiting many places for birds and other nature experiences, more than most of the expats I’ve met here. But I still have a long way to go and many new places to visit yet! One goal is to visit all 34 National Parks which shouldn’t be too difficult since I visited all 55 Tennessee State Parks! And I’m about 1/3 the way done now! Thanks for following my adventures!
“Remember what Bilbo used to say: It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”– JRR Tolkien
Beach or Mountain – Every Place is Good to Visit Here!
Above is sunset at Flamingo Beach.
That is part of my retirement job of “enjoying retirement.” And though my entire photo gallery titled “Charlie Doggett’s COSTA RICA”includes much from these trips I take about every two months or more frequently, it has been mostly organized in subject galleries like Birds, Butterflies, Flora & Forest, places and events. Because people ask me about traveling to a specific location, what I saw there, about guides, activities, hotel, food, etc. I decided to add a new section to the photo galleries called “TRIPS.”Here you will find a gallery or folder on each trip with most recent trip at top and most include multiple photo galleries, like one for all the birds I photographed there, one on the hotel, other animals, scenery, etc. So if you are interested in what you might see and do in say Drake Bay, Tortuguero, or Sarapiqui, just check out my trip gallery to that place. And you already know that nature is my primary focus on all trips! 🙂
I guess this will be most helpful to persons considering a particular place to visit to see if it is something that interests you. Now also be aware that I travel to places multiple times and usually in different hotels/lodges. So check out all three of my trip galleries to San Gerardo de Dota for example. Or if you are just wanting . . .
HOTELS & LODGES
Me at hotel by Arenal Volcano
And if you only want my opinion on a hotel or lodge? Well, I’m using a new “story-telling” feature on my web gallery host (SmugMug) now to present my opinions of the various hotels and lodges I have visited, over 30 in 3 years! These are listed alphabetically by locations (town. park, etc) and include links to the hotel’s website as well as other links of interest like my above trip galleries! 🙂 You find it in my big gallery under “PLACES & THINGS” as Cost Rica Lodges & Hotels.
And for different kinds of reviews, I also write a report on most hotels on TripAdvisorwhere you should find a list of my reviews.
Most Americans are addicted to cars and thus will use a rent car with a GPS that will get you to any location. Just don’t depend on maps and addresses since house numbers are not used in Costa Rica much nor are streets or highways labeled, which can be a problem at the intersection of two highways where you need to turn. In addition to GPS systems, a lot of locals use WAZE on their cellphones for directions since it includes traffic problems, wrecks, construction work and detours. Or Google Maps provides good directions also on phones. Just bring a car charger for phone!
But if you want to forget the stress and travel the Pura Vida way, take a public bus to anywhere in the country for pennies on the dollar compared to rent car and no stress or getting lost. At your destination town, take a taxi to your hotel or many hotels provide shuttle transportation. To find bus schedules and plan your trip use http://horariodebuses.com/EN/cr/index.phpand if you can’t handle Spanish, there is a menu item to “Change the Language” with many major world languages included, like English! 🙂
NOTE: Since this post I now use a private driver for most trips not needing a plane. I use Walter Ramirez whose business is linked in the right column of this blog and to logo at left. I highly recommend him and all of his drivers. It costs more than a bus but is quicker, more efficient, more comfortable and relaxing with stops anytime you wish.
For longer distances and to save a long bus ride, I recommend the Costa Rican Sansa Airlines to get you across the country quickly and efficiently (telephone them is best) or their Canadian competitor Nature Air. Booking online has not worked efficiently for me, so I recommend telephoning either airline. NOTE: Nature Air has gone out of business since this post. But Sansa was always better anyway! 🙂
Typical 12-passenger plane used for in-country flights
and to neighbors Nicaragua and Panama.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It
Well, I may have gotten carried away with travel information and opinions! Sorry! My original purpose was to simply introduce you to my new set of photo galleries called
EASTER BUNNY? And for Easter I have yet to see a rabbit here, though one website says there are 3 species of forest rabbits. The more common agouti twitches his nose like a rabbit, but he’s actually a rodent! 🙂
EASTER IS EITHER RELIGIOUS OR BEACH HOLIDAY FOR TICOS Easter is purely a religious holiday here officially almost equal with Christmas in importance but purely for the focus on Jesus, not spoiling children with candy. (They spoil them other ways!) I’ll try to get some photos to share from the Easter Mass Processional tomorrow which is big deal everywhere. It used to be a “Dry Week” with no alcoholic beverages sold nation-wide, by law! Now it is up to local communities and is not enforced in the dry cantons.
Click thisOne tourist guide to being here for Easter (Semana Santa or Holy Week) with a list of other major holidays included. It is important to know before visiting here because many Ticos travel for many holidays, especially this week, and especially to the beaches, meaning the highways are literally bumper to bumper. It took us twice as long as usual to get to Tarcoles Thursday because of this. I would never go to a beach during Semana Santa (Holy Week). Think Spring Break!
Return trip was on a Double-Decker, air-conditioned bus, painted cool!
Going and returning we stopped about halfway at Baranca, a little village near Puntarenas, at this super-bus-station, restaurant, stores, huge bathrooms, for our needed potty break and snacks! 20 minutes! Our tourist van stopped here on all the Visa Runs to Nicaragua my1st year. And John & I stopped here on our trip to Tamarindo.
On the return trip I got off the bus in Alajuela (before San Jose) to speed up my
return to Atenas by more than an hour, maybe two! At the bus stop in Bijagua were three young adults from North Carolina on their adventure trip (2 girls & 1 guy) and I enjoyed visiting with them. They had been all over the country by bus from coast to coast for 16 days! Ahhhhhh! Youth! Yet I probably have as much adventure as an old man, just at a much slower pace in little short trips! What a life!
I road my familiar bus to San Jose Coca Cola Station and then a taxi to Pulmitan Station where I waited for the bus to Upala with everything indoors at this station, including the boarding of the buses. I nice terminal.
And if I had not eaten breakfast at home, I could have eaten here. I did have coffee of course and read a little of a Spanish language newspaper and the latest book on my Kindle while waiting.
It was the same bus all the way to Bijagua with many brief stops picking up people. Yes, it was a “collectivo” stopping anywhere someone was at a stop and went into Alajuela Central to pick up a lot of people there. It was definitely best that I went to San Jose and got my favorite seat, the front right seat looking out the windshield all the way up! It was most of the way on Highway 1 and from Baranca on a very familiar route to me which we used on our “Visa Runs” that first year. And the Baranca bus station is also a restaurant with shops and big restrooms that I have stopped at many times, so quite familiar. We had a 20 minute break there. All other stops were along the road including my stop in Bijagua in front of a Soda. I found an unmarked taxi that took me to the lodge.
After arriving at Celeste Mountain Lodge I wandered around with my camera for a few birds in the garden and a bird-less hike on a rainforest trail which I will try again in the morning. The room is basic and nice but the food is fantastic gourmet food! At least dinner was tonight! 3 more dinners plus the other meals. It will be amazing if they keep up the quality of food we had tonight. It is one menu for everyone each night with something new everyday. We started with the best 3-cheese quesadilla appetizer with homemade peccadillo that I could have made a meal of! Then sliced chicken breast with this scrumptious sauce accompanied by three local fresh vegetables all cooked differently, with their own sauces. My Planter’s Punch went great with this and it was topped off with a delicious chocolate layer cake. Wow! Beats bus stop food! 🙂
I have a lot of pictures from this afternoon here, but will save them for sharing tomorrow. Tired and sleepy now! And it is cool tonight! Down to 17c or 62f. ¡Buenos noches!
Necesito el bus a Upala, saliendo en Bijagua. Favor de por entrada de adulto mayor. I need the bus to Upala, exiting in Bijagua. A ticket for one senior adult please. It pays to be over 65 here (adulto mayor), giving me discounts on all buses and national parks, museums and theaters, etc. I emailed my self the Spanish line so I can open it on my phone and read it if needed. Or more likely I will wing it! The first sentence is easy now, and the second can be shortened to “para un adulto mayor” as I hand him/her my cedula and gold card. The bus trip is part of the adventure! 🙂