By the time we reached San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital, we were ready to do a tour. We wanted to experience the wildlife and natural habitats that Coast Rica is so famously known for and so fiercely protects. You have to give it to them. They have more protected parks per land mass than any other country in the world.
Ben and I were overwhelmed. San Jose offered so many tours: Butterfly Gardens, Volcanoes, Coffee Farms, Hiking, and Animal Sanctuaries. Honestly, we wanted to do them all but were determined to stay near our budget. That’s when Jessie, a young Canadian women working in our hostel, suggested a tour the combined all of the above activities into 1 all-inclusive $90 tour. She and her friend fondly dubbed the tour “The Day of Awesome”… and it was.
Our first stop on our Day of Awesome tour was a delicious breakfast followed by a tour of a coffee farm.
We had “Desayuno de Tipico” of warm tortes, scrambled eggs, spicy beans and rice accompanied by a milky white cheese spread that is specific to Central American. This cheese spread is my crack. I still have cravings for it almost 4 months later. We ate on a gorgeous balcony overlooking the farm’s gardens.
I thought Ben and I were no longer coffee novices since we stayed at a coffee farm in Columbia. But we learned more about coffee production 30 minutes into this tour then we did after 3 days stay at the coffee farm.
Did you know? That not every coffee berry produces 2 bean halves. The best beans, reserved for the richest coffee, come from the berries that produce just one solitude bean.
After the coffee farm we were bused to Poas volcano. There we hiked on a scenic trail of interwoven trees and mystic fog.
We finally reached Poas which looks like a huge crater filled with steaming bright aqua liquid . We were told that the volcano still erupts, spitting out dangerous and toxic water into the air. This was not a comforting thought while standing on the observation deck located just above it.
We also visited a nearby inactive crater surround by huge prehistoric leaves. Perfect for a dinosaur’s salad.
On our way to the Animal Sanctuary, the bus stopped at a strawberry farm. Ben and I got a container of strawberries with chocolate dipping sauce and settled into our very own mini picnic.
When we got to the Animal Sanctuary, we realized that the sanctuary was actually part of a $450 a night Luxury Hotel. Ah wow.
First we were allowed to walk through huge cages filled with toucans and other exotic birds. It was toucan matting season making them very territorial and irritable. We are instructed not to disturb them but most of them were copulating in the bushes anyways making them easy to hear but hard to see. Finally I was able to snap this photo.
Next up was the Butterfly Garden. They didn’t land on us like the butterflies at Iguazu Falls did, but we still managed to get some incredible photos of these beautifully winged creatures.
Before lunch we visited the humming-bird feeders. It was definitely a challenge getting a picture of these faster than lightening birds. Ben and I would sit at the same feeder for an eternity, cameras pointed and ready, waiting and waiting for one of them to swoop in for a snack. It was kinda like driving in rush hour traffic and feeling like you no matter what lane you were in, it always turned out to be the slow lane. But perseverance prevailed and we were able to get this photo.
After lunch we visited the cat part of the sanctuary. There they had a wide range of cats, from an ocelot, which are the size of an ordinary house cat to a jaguar. I started to meow at the ocelot, trying to get his attention for a photo. The ocelot reluctantly abandoned his meal, came over to me, turned around and sprayed me in the face!!!! Just as our guide was warning us not to get to close. Lesson learned: Never to interrupt an animal’s meal to get a photo.
The final attraction was the frog sanctuary. Ben and I were experts at spotting the well hidden tiny dart frogs since we spent a lot of time looking for them on Red Frog Beach in the Bocas, Panama. But this sanctuary was filled with more than just the red dart frogs.
Costa Rica’s most famous frog is the Red Eyed Frog. They are nocturnal and when they sleep, the almost melt into the jungle’s greenery to protect against predators.
But when they are awakened, the same Red Eyed Frogs come to life with an explosion of color.
After the Animal sanctuary we took a man-made jungle trail though a nearby cloud forest. The trail lead us around waterfalls, across rivers, and over tree tops through thick rainforest mist. It was spectacular.
As we waited for the bus to take us back to San Jose, we spotted a family of wild raccoon hoping for some hand outs.