Costa Rica — with its verdant rainforests, beautiful beaches, and endless opportunities to spot exotic, tropical wildlife, this Latin American nation certainly merits more than one visit. If it’s your first trip to Costa Rica, there are some sights you simply must see. Here they are.
1) Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park is one of Costa Rica’s most famous national parks for a good reason. This park is home to some of the nation’s best beaches, and offers ample opportunities for wildlife viewing, too. More than 100 species of mammals and 180 species of birds call this park home, and its many wildlife trails offer visitors plenty of chances to see them. The park opens every day at 7:00 a.m. and closes at 4:00 p.m.; you’ll want to get there early to have plenty of time to lounge on the beach, spot wildlife from the trails, and take in some of the best views. Bring your swimsuit; you’ll want to visit Playa Manuel Antonio, or the somewhat less crowded Playa Espadilla Sur, Playa Escondito, and Playa Playita. Hike up to Cathedral Point for a great view of the coast. Maximize your chances of seeing wildlife with a guided tour.
2) Tortuguero National Park
Tortuguero National Park is the place to be during the egg-laying season for leatherback turtles and green turtles. Leatherbacks lay their eggs from April to May and green turtles lay theirs from July to October. To see the turtles, you’ll have to take a tour; don’t worry, the tours are used as a means of generating funds used to protect the turtles and their habitat. You’ll have an extremely high chance of seeing at least one turtle if you use a turtle spotter, who will go out and find some turtles before leading your group to the appropriate spot to see them.
If you want to see hatchling turtles, you can do so by visiting the beach extremely early in the morning in September and October, when the young turtles hatch. Digging up nests or otherwise tampering with hatchlings could be harmful to them. Beware of unscrupulous locals who may offer you the opportunity to do so, for a fee.
3) Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve
Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve is home to 2.5 percent of the world’s biodiversity. The park is home to 9,000 species of plants, including more than 750 species of trees; 60 species of amphibians; more than 100 species of reptiles; more than 500 species of birds; and over 130 species of mammals. Visitors can explore 13 kilometers (8.08 miles) of trails. Hike up to the La Ventana scenic overlook, to feel the trade winds blow in from the Atlantic and gaze upon panoramic views of the continental divide. Take an early-morning birdwatching tour to glimpse species such as the three-wattle bellbird or the quetzal. Other guided tours include the Natural History Walk and the Night Walk Tour, which offers opportunities to spot frogs, bats, and other nocturnal creatures.
4) Volcán Arenal
Volcán Arenal is Costa Rica’s most active volcano, making Arenal National Park a popular stop on most Costa Rica vacations. In 2010, it entered a period of dormancy, so you may not see an eruption. Visit the nearby Chato Volcano — it’s been inactive for more than 3,500 years, and in its caldera you can see a picturesque lagoon. Spot parrots, howler monkeys, white-faced monkeys, tapir, and deer in the surrounding forest. At the end of a long day of hiking, horseback riding, or whitewater rafting, soak away the soreness in one of the park’s many natural hot springs.
Montezuma is a relaxed beach town that has held on to its off-the-beaten-path ambiance in the wake of Costa Rica’s increasing popularity with tourists. Located on the southern coast of the Nicoya Peninsula, this somewhat remote town offers quiet beaches, lots of wildlife, numerous restaurants, and laid-back vibe appealing to families, couples, and backpackers alike. Enjoy Playa Montezuma and Playa Grande, the best local beaches — Playa Grande in particular is great for surfing, and the walk out offers chances to spot wildlife and birds. Head to Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve to relax on more secluded beaches. Visitors can also swim at the nearby Montezuma Waterfalls.
Costa Rica offers some of the richest biodiversity on earth. Visitors can spot exotic animals, soak up the sun on the nation’s beaches, or enjoy the quaint, bohemian atmosphere of remote beach towns. Plan your first Costa Rica trip wisely, and enjoy all this Central American nation has to offer.
A Beginner’s Guide to Yacht Charters: How to Choose the Right Yacht and Plan the Perfect Trip
Yacht charters offer a unique and luxurious way to explore the world’s most beautiful destinations. Whether you’re looking to spend a week exploring the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean, or you want to take a romantic trip to the Mediterranean, a yacht charter is an excellent option. Phuket is an excellent location to charter a yacht and is one of the most popular destinations for yacht charters in the world.
However, choosing the right yacht and planning the perfect trip can be a daunting task for those who are new to yacht charters. In this beginner’s guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to make your yacht charter experience a success.
Consider the Size of the Yacht Needed
Yachts come in a variety of sizes, from small sailing boats to large motor yachts. Consider how many people will be traveling with you, and how much space you’ll need for your trip. You’ll also want to think about the type of activities you want to do on your trip. If you’re looking for a more adventurous trip, a smaller sailing yacht may be the way to go. But if you’re looking for a more luxurious and spacious experience, a larger motor yacht may be a better choice.
- Small Sailing Yachts: These are typically 30-50 feet in length and are ideal for more intimate and adventurous trips.
- Mid-Size Motor Yachts: These yachts are typically 50-80 feet in length and offer more space and amenities than small sailing yachts.
- Large Motor Yachts: These yachts are typically 80 feet or longer and offer the ultimate in luxury and comfort.
- Superyachts: These are the largest yachts, typically over 100 feet in length, and are often custom built to the highest standards.
Consider a Place to Discover
Yacht charters are available all over the world, from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean, so choose a location that appeals to you and your travel companions. Research the destinations you’re interested in, and find out what the weather will be like during your trip. You’ll also want to consider the time of year that you’re traveling, as some destinations may be more expensive during peak season.
Here are some popular yacht destinations:
Mediterranean: The Mediterranean region is a top destination for yacht charters, with its turquoise waters, stunning coastline, and rich cultural heritage. Some popular destinations include the French Riviera, the Amalfi Coast in Italy, and the Greek islands.
Caribbean: The Caribbean is a popular yacht charter destination for its warm weather, beautiful beaches, and clear waters. Some popular islands include the British Virgin Islands, St. Martin, and Antigua.
Bahamas: The Bahamas are another popular yacht charter destination, known for its stunning crystal-clear waters, white-sand beaches, and tropical landscapes.
Maldives: The Maldives is a group of 26 atolls in the Indian Ocean, known for its stunning coral reefs, crystal-clear waters, and abundant sea life.
Thailand: Thailand is known for its stunning beaches, lush tropical forests, vibrant local culture, and rich history. Some popular destinations for yacht charters in Thailand include the Andaman Sea, Phuket, and Koh Samui
When it comes to planning the perfect trip, timing is everything. Booking your yacht charter early is key to ensuring that you get the yacht and destination that you want. Don’t wait until the last minute to book, as yachts can fill up quickly, especially during peak season. It’s also a good idea to book well in advance if you’re traveling during the holidays, as yachts tend to be in high demand during these times.
Yacht Charter Cost
Another important factor to consider when planning your yacht charter is the cost. Yacht charters can be expensive, so you’ll want to budget for your trip carefully. Consider the cost of the yacht, fuel, food, and other expenses. Some yacht charters may include some or all of these expenses, so be sure to ask about what’s included when you’re booking. You may also want to look for yacht charter deals or discounts to help save money on your trip.
Think About the Crew
Finally, you’ll want to consider the crew. Yacht charters typically come with a crew that includes a captain, chef, and other members. Consider the size of the crew, and make sure that they have the experience and skills you need for your trip. You’ll also want to make sure that the crew is friendly and professional, and that they can accommodate any special requests or needs you may have.
A yacht charter is an excellent way to explore the world’s most beautiful destinations in style and comfort. With a little bit of planning and research, you can choose the right yacht and plan the perfect trip for you and your travel companions. So start exploring your options today, and get ready for the trip of a lifetime!
Medieval Towns with German Castles Near Munich & Frankfurt
Our favorite castles in Germany near Frankfurt and Munich:
We were crazy enough to visit Neuschwanstein Castle on a public holiday. This meant that along with all the Asian tourists, there were an awful lot of Germans. Plus, even though we arrived by 11 am, the soonest tickets we could buy were for the German tour at 2.30 pm, as the terms in English were sold out until 4 pm. So, if you don’t have German friends at hand to translate the tour for you, we recommend booking in advance online. The castle was impressive, and the time was undoubtedly fascinating! Don’t worry, I won’t spill the beans, but the manmade Grotto room made my jaw drop!
Mespelbrunn Castle is located on a pond between Frankfurt and Wurzburg. Unfortunately, we arrived 30 minutes after its closing time of 5 pm, but it looked cool from behind the fence!
Lichtenstein Castle is located on a clifftop near Stuttgart and costs 6 euros per person for a tour in German; however, they did give us a very informative written guide in English. This castle is small compared to Hohenzollern castle, but its story is fascinating. Tanks shelled it in World War II, and today you can still see the cracked mirror from where a small fragment of a tank grenade ricocheted!
Hohenzollern Castle is not too far from Lichtenstein Castle. It is located on a hilltop near Hechingen, and we enjoyed the guided tour. Along with getting to wear GIANT slippers, make sure you explore the casemates and secret passages. One sign made me want to learn more. It read, “Exactly where these steps lead to is unknown. More casemates and secret passageways are likely waiting to be discovered in the heart of the mountain”!
Heidelberg Castle was a lot larger than we expected! Unfortunately, we had spent far too much time at the Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim, so we did not have time to explore this castle. But if we get the chance, we will explore the town and its castle next time in Germany.
On our drive from Munich to Frankfurt, we also loved:
The beer garden at Andechs Monastery was just like Oktoberfest but amongst trees and more family-friendly. The beer was cheaper, and the food was great, including the giant pork knuckle, which Moss could not finish. It was also fun walking up multiple flights of stairs to the tower’s very top.
Three hours in Rothenburg was not enough to explore this wonderful medieval town! We recommend getting your hands on a city map from the tourist information office. We enjoyed Roder Gate, walking along the wall and exploring the 17th-century spital bastion, plus Moss lost me in the Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas shop for over half an hour, and I didn’t even buy anything!
The average person would Google Munich to Frankfurt and see that it only takes about 3 ½ hours depending on how fast you wish to drive on the autobahn! However, we are NOT typical. We took one look at train prices and decided that hiring a car wouldn’t cost too much more.
We aren’t going to tell you our exact route. Still, after surviving Oktoberfest in Munich, we did a giant zigzag to see as many castles and medieval towns as possible. So to save you doing so much driving, we have picked our favorite cities and castles. First of all, ‘Ausfahrt’ is not a destination accessible from every off-ramp! It means ‘Exit’! Another word of wisdom to keep in mind is that the autobahns with speed limits do have speed cameras… and the flash is blinding!
Running with the Bulls Video
Our shaky Running with the Bulls Video footage from the Festival de San Fermin in 2012. Experience it first hand in Pamplona. Enjoy.
We recently wrote about our life or death experience of Running with the Bulls this year at the Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona. On that run, I carried along with our GoPro video camera and tried to shoot some footage for our running with the video of the bull.
All our travel video shooting techniques went out the window when the bulls’ hooves started to shake the ground beneath our feet.
Once we had lined up for the running with the bulls, there was no escape from it as we were walled in by apartment blocks, shopfront windows, and 3-meter high wooden barriers packed with photographers along the entire length. At one end lay the relative safety of the bull ring pulsating with the cheers of the crowd who were still partying from the night before. Behind me, a dozen wild bulls pawed the stony ground looking for freedom.
Unfortunately, I was standing in their path.
What we ended up with is below. However, I think what we filmed for our running with the bull video captures the chaos, craziness, and complete madness a lot better than if I had stood my ground.
Enjoy it and watch for the guy that nearly gets trampled to death near the beginning!
Running with the Bulls Video
Would you ever consider running with the bulls?
While we are very aware that not all people agree that the San Fermin Festival should be allowed to go ahead mainly due to animal cruelty, we think there are two sides to every story. We wrote a post about the controversy surrounding Bullfighting in Spain and the Festival de San Fermin.
We would love to hear your thoughts on the Festival de San Fermin and whether you would ever consider running with the bulls.
Meet Cole and Adela
We have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...
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