Costa Rica
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Our Trip
We spent our first week cruising down and back up the west coast of Costa Rica to Panama on the Star Flyer clipper ship, enjoying many land visits en route.

The next two weeks were for exploration of the volcanos and various types of forest - rainforest, cloud forest and dry forest, both primary and secondary. We visited Poas, Tortuguero, Arenal, Monteverde and Manuel Antonio.

See our full itinerary

Click on any photo in the galleries to see a larger image and slideshow

Costa Rica
The Pacific Coast of Costa Rica is shaped like a giant crab with two great claws and contains a natural paradise. It has seven provinces. Besides the human population, it is home to 9,000 higher plant species, nearly 900 bird species, hundreds of frogs and reptiles and 10 percent of all mammals on earth.

From the stunning volcanic peaks of Nicaragua down to the rustic scenery of Panama, Costa’s breathtaking beauty allows you to look in any direction and watch nature perform around you. Howler monkeys roam freely through the jungle canopy above while manta rays weightlessly glide through the waters below and the White-faced Capuchin monkeys are at your feet ready to grab your bag.
“Pura vida” is not just a tourism slogan. It’s a way of expressing just how good you are – and how well your spirit and your community and your life are in general. Literally meaning “pure life,” Costa Ricans use the phrase as a way of saying “hello,” good morning or even answering the question “how are you?”
The population is 4.5m with 2.7% unemployment. There is a German and Belgian influence as well as Spanish. 80% of the population is Catholic. They produce 60% of used products. It’s one of the few countries with no army – it was disbanded in 1948. 1.5m have internet at home with 2.7m using Facebook. ICE is the national telcom provider.
Costa Rica has 61 National Parks and 112 volcanoes of which 5 are active. There are about 300 earthquakes a day which are not felt, ie 0.1 on the Richter scale.

In a region that has been plagued by long and turbulent civil wars, the peaceful and reformist outcome of Costa Rica's Civil War in 1948 differs greatly from its neighbours. Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua all suffered extremely long and painful dictatorships. The Costa Rican revolution lasted for five weeks with sporadic fighting in which the National Liberation Army, led by Jose Maria ("Don Pepe") Figueres Ferrer, proved victorious over the badly organized and poorly directed Costa Rican army. In fact much of the defence of the government was provided by armed Communist party members. However, the government was reluctant to give them enough material support to be truly effective, and on April 19, the illegitimate government of Teodoro Picado decided to surrender to Figueres.

The country's forty-day Civil War in 1948 resulted in an affirmation rather than a negation of democracy. Democracy is not only the type of government of Costa Rica, but it also the source of tremendous pride in a country that brags about having more teachers than policeman and not having a standing army since it was abolished in 1948.


Coffee production in Costa Rica relies on cheap, seasonal labour: Nicaraguan immigrants are often employed on plantations. Coffee cultivators in the country are paid very little, often as little as US$1.5 per basket picked, but the wages are not less than in many other industries of the Costa Rican primary sectors.

The red berries are picked by the workers and are transported to processing plants to be washed and to remove the pulp around the beans. The beans are then laid out to dry in the sun (or warm greenhouses), then sorted according to size and shape.

Costa Rica is famous for its gourmet coffee beans, with Costa Rican Tarrazu among the finest Arabica coffee beans in the world used for making espresso coffee.