Costa Rica Adventure Part 1 – Gatwick to San Jose

What does Costa Rica have to do with weight loss and fitness you may ask?

One huge incentive and reward of my weight loss and fitness journey over the past 6 years has been improving my ability to be more active.  There was a time when I could barely stand long enough to fill my car with diesel without becoming breathless and panicky.

Last year, we undertook our very first Safari holiday.  It was jolly hard work (a long haul flight, lots of travelling, lots of very early mornings).  It involved travelling in jeeps, several light aircraft, a helicopter and walking through the sands of the Kalahari.

Although exhausting in many respects, the rewards were many – the wonderful places we visited and the animals we were lucky enough to see roaming in their natural habitat.

The success of the trip was very much down to Tribes, the travel company we used to tailor our holiday to my needs.  This was a holiday where we undertook a lot of activities, but the planned had been planned to include rest/relaxation days and time to recover our energy.

We used Tribes again to arrange this years trip.  We’d decided upon Costa Rica and Tribes put together a very full itinerary covering five different locations right around this small country.

A few days ahead of departure, the South of England was covered with snow with the threat of more to follow.  We thought it wise to book overnight into a hotel close to Gatwick and we were glad we did, as more snow arrived.

View from our hotel window

After an 11 hour British Airways flight (thankfully not delayed by the weather) we landed in the capital city, San Jose.  Immediately outside of arrivals, the small airport was absolutely crammed with people waving boards with names on them.  Somehow we were lucky enough to spot our name on a board and after collecting our bags were herded towards our waiting…. coach!  For some bizarre reason, we had a whole 30 seater coach just for the two of us and our tour guide.  Plenty of room for luggage and the wheelchair!

We were driven through the chaotic traffic to our first hotel, Hotel Presidente.  As a city centre hotel, this was fine for our first nights stay and we enjoyed a meal of sea bass ceviche (raw fish marinated in lime juice,  coriander and spices) alongside a watermelon mojito on the roof terrace.  It was an early night – heading to bed to prepare ourselves for long drive early the following morning.

Our driver, Alex who was waiting in reception the next morning was amazing.  Speaking excellent English and a wealth of knowledge about the country, the culture, the people, the animals, the economy….  For the duration of our lengthy drive out of the city and towards Peurto Veijo de Limon (some 4 hours) we treated to lots of interesting information about the scenery and places we passed.

The number one export of Costa Rica is no longer coffee – but pineapples!  In fact they are the global leaders in pineapple production, supplying 60% of worldwide exports.  Three quarters of the pineapples found on supermarket shelves were grown in this tiny Country, all planted and harvested by hand.  Take a look at this incredible video!

Lunch stop en route with Alex

Shawandha Lodge on the southern Caribbean coast was our next port of call.  A small hotel comprising 14 self-contained bungalows set in 5 acres of lush tropical gardens, each with their own veranda and hammock.  The bungalows were basically furnished, but spotlessly clean and we were treated to being able to see wild life passing our front door including an agouti!  We were surrounded by the sounds of birds calling and howler monkeys howling – the howler monkey makes quite a frightening sound and usually at night.  Once you know what causes the sound, it seems a little less threatening.

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Peurto Viejo
Peurto Viejo beach
Peurto Viejo beach
Peurto Viejo town, a real Caribbean feel going down
Enjoying a well earned rest!

Whilst there, we visited the lovely beach at Puerto Viejo and also the Cahuita National Park where we saw a Jesus Lizard, the venomous eyelash viper and plenty of monkeys (howler, spider and capuchin).  From there we were driven to The Tree of Life rescue centre.  The centre rescues animals in need, rehabilitating them and then releasing them back into their natural environment.  There we met Chewi, the blind kinkajou, many monkeys, sloths, a jaguarondi, turtles, deer, coati and many more.  We were also able to buy chocolate made at the centre.

Jesus Lizard


Eyelash Viper


3 thoughts on “Costa Rica Adventure Part 1 – Gatwick to San Jose

  1. Simone, that’s a great blog. Thanks for sharing these lovely shots and thoughts about your trip. I’m so pleased you had such a good time. Amanda.

    • Some parts were better than others. But there is a huge willingness to accommodate people with disabilities and their needs / requirements. I was surprised at just how often we came across a disabled bathroom in the smaller cafes and restaurants. We booked through a tour operator who are very good at ensuring that everything we did and everywhere we stayed met my needs. However, even then there were times when we’d been told something was wheelchair accessible, but actually the path was along sand and full of tree roots! We didn’t use wheelchair accessible transport, just a large vehicle with enough space for my wheelchair to be loaded in.

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