Category Archives: Costa Rica

Expedia, etc. and big chain hotels not eco-friendly in Costa Rica

If you are planning to vacation in Costa Rica, please read this.

More than any country on the planet, Costa Rica prides itself as eco-friendly. Large swaths of land are preserved as national parks with original-growth rainforests. Nearly all of Costa Rica’s electricity is made from renewable sources, and Ticos have been named time and again the happiest people on earth.

Most tourists come to Costa Rica thinking and expecting ‘green’. Continue reading

What happened to Adventure Inn on TripAdvisor?

Adventure Inn has a fantastic location, ideally situated about half way between the international SJO airport and central San Jose. Our guests have close access to both, yet are far enough away for none of the negative aspects. Our guests generally enjoy and appreciate returning to the cleaner, safer, less polluted and quieter Adventure Inn neighborhood after a day in central San Jose, and a great night’s sleep close to the airport but not at the end of a runway. Continue reading

Guess which hotel is closest to the new Costa Rica Convention Center

According to the Minister of Tourism here in Costa Rica, Allan Flores, tourism in Costa Rica is divided into six sectors: adventure, ecotourism, wellness, medical, rural and convention tourism. I’m not sure where people who just want a break and come here to relax and do nothing fit in. Anyway, he thinks we are strong in the first five sectors but lacking decisively in the last, much of the convention trade lost in particular to Panama over the last decade.

A national convention center has been on the drawing board for the last twenty years, but that is as far as it ever went until recently. Continue reading

The Lookout Inn

I never thought I’d find a member hotel that I would actually write about, but my simple overnight experience at The Lookout Inn Lodge in Carate changed my mind. The lodge is a series of open-air cabinas surrounded by jungle, all pressed against a near-cliff on a remote stretch of pristine jungle-backed black beach, each cabina adjoined by stairs and platforms to the main lodge. The entire lodge gives you the feeling it was hand-made from jungle findings, and gives you great visual access from the comfort of your cabina to the distant soothing sea and the nearby plethora of wildlife that makes the Lookout Inn one of their daily stops, if not home. Continue reading

Renting a 2WD vs. a 4WD in Costa Rica

With my hotel association, Adventure Hotels of Costa Rica, about every two years, sometimes in the rainy (green) season, sometimes in the sunny (high) season, I clock approximately 2800 kilometers driving around Costa Rica, visiting all potential and new member hotels. Therefore I have gained quite a bit of knowledge about driving around Costa Rica at all times of the year.

Though Costa Rica looks small on a world map, it takes about fourteen hours to drive diagonally from one corner to the next. Traversing the rugged landscape, few highways are straight. And when you see a sign giving directions or kilometers to a certain town, take advantage of it! Continue reading

Small Costa Rica hotels band together

In 2005 a group of twenty-two small to mid-sized hotels from many Costa Rican tourist destinations banded together to take on the system. Looking for intelligent options to fill their rooms, and tired of waiting for guests to miraculously arrive at their hotel when counting on travel agents and the big internet boys (expedia, travelocity, orbitz and hotels.com), the hotel group started off on the simple premise of working as a team by sending guests to each other, and offering the guests a 10% discount as incentive. Continue reading

Ticology

Ticos (the name Costa Ricans have given themselves) are a very complex and unique Latin American sub-culture. There are two theories as to the origination of the term ‘Tico’. The first is that Costa Ricans tend to end words with ‘tico’ rather than the widely-used ‘ito’. Continue reading

Climbing Mount Chirripo

Written by Tyler and Ali Weeks, previous guests of Adventure Inn

Hiking Mount Chirripo is, for many, a challenge, adventure, and calling, all in one. The highest of all mountains in Central America, its top is accessible to anyone with the persistence to press on, step by step, and requires no technical gear when seeking the summit. What is required is mental perserverance, and an ability to conquer from within the outdoor challenges of slope and variable weather patterns. For those enduring enough to press through the many offerings Mother Nature makes along the way (blaring heat and heavy humidity, cloaking clouds and varying intensities of rain…even temperatures cold enough to occasionally evoke snow and frost near the top), views of both the Caribbean and Pacific Oceans can be had, but rarely, and often only at sunrise, before the skies at 12,526 ft are enveloped in fog and clouds.

For our honeymoon, my lovely bride (my Malaika, Ali Wise) and I began the endeavor early in the morning, with Sun’s rise veiled in the common occurance of a cloudy day. The plan was to make it to the ranger station, 14.5 kilometers up from the trailhead by mid-afternoon, in our hopeful attempt to avoid being caught outdoors amidst the heavy rains of a July day’s Costa Rican downpour. The hike brought us through many different ecotypes, all fed by the waters that daily fall to and through the rainforests. Countless species of birds, insects, and plants were the backdrop to our ascent, providing a heavenly distraction to the aching in our legs that built, as we clambered closer and closer to the mountaintop. Only 40 passes/people are allowed in the park on any given day, yet it seemed the allure of Chirripo had global reach; we shared conversation with locals choosing to summit their country’s highest peak, as well as gringos like us, from such places as the USA, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Canada, and England.

By mid-morning we’d reached the halfway point, where we could refill our water supply and sit down to reminisce on elevation gained and prepare for elevations still to be tackled. A dry first half of the hike succumbed first to misting weather, and eventually to a steady drizzle as the higher trail beckoned our energies forward. While the first ten or so kilometers were picturesque rainforest, composed of any number of towering trees, epiphytes and bromeliads, gargantuan ferns, bamboos, and flowering plants, the elevations and weather patterns further up stunted the growth of such large flora, creating a much different surrounding, known locally as ‘Paramo’ as we neared our resting place for the night.

Gifted by two kilometers of basically flat and forgiving trail, we were able to prepare for the last push to our lodge (know that the term is used loosely…a very accommodating kitchen, but no insulation, temps of 5-10* C at night, and no way to dry out whatever may have been drenched on the way up). Deemed ‘The Repentance’, and for good reason, the last kilometer to the ranger station increased greatly in gradient, and given the rains we’d endured for over four hours now, boasted a mighty mud and muck to add to the fun. But in times of great challenge, one must simply, well, keep things simple…and so step by grueling step, our goal for the day was reached.

Fast forward to the next morning, after listening to mighty rains pound the roof above our head until just past midnight, we awoke and departed for the summit promptly as 3am. Spitting just the slightest bits of snow, the weather was chilly but accommodating, and we could see stars in the skies just to our east. Hiking with headlamps, and having left all we wouldn’t need for our summit bid at the lodge, it took just under two hours to reach Chirripo’s final challenge. With dawn threatening to break, we could see the ominous peak’s silhouette on our approach, and were reduced by its mighty incline to hike hand over hand for the last 300 meters. Yet at 5am, having beat the sunrise to the finish line, and with all of Costa Rica and Central America below our feet, the chilly winds, damp clothing, soaked shoes, and aching muscles were forgotten. Fate was on our side, and scattered clouds gave way to the sun’s mighty rays, providing shifting views of the surrounding hills and mountains that no words or photos could ever capture. Yet pictures aplenty were taken, and rather than a sense of conquering, ours was much more a communion with Mother Nature and the might spirits of Mount Chirripo.

Though still challenging, the descent back down to the ranger station, and then to the trailhead to Casa Mariposa (the most homey and eco-friendly hostel a hiker could ever ask for) was a time to reflect… to quiet one’s thoughts and abandon words, while simply awing and enjoying the natural surroundings. For all the pain experienced in the ascent, we both felt a bit sad that our experience on Mount Chirripo would soon be coming to an end. That said, the thought of a warm shower and hot meal overcame any longing to begin again toward the might mountaintop, knowing Chirripo’s indelible impression lives eternally in the heart of any and all who choose its challenge.