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Trip Report Lovin' Costa Rica with Kids

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Hello to All!

Well, first a big thank you to all who take the time to answer questions, give advice, and post your own trip reports. Know that your efforts have helped shape this fantastic trip that follows… If you have any questions, I’d of course love to help answer them as well. :)

My husband, myself, and our 2 daughters, ages 6 and 3.5 traveled to Costa Rica this past April to celebrate my husband and I’s 10th wedding anniversary (and also my birthday which is one in the same day). My husband and I had been to Costa Rica once before (pre-kids) for our 2nd wedding anniversary, but knew even then we had to bring our children-to-be back to this magical place, to share it with them, and see it through their eyes.

Looking back, I am sure that is the exact experience we loved most from our trip, sharing it and experiencing it with our children. It was as if we could just see them growing right before our eyes; their self-esteem and confidence growing exponentially with each new experience and adventure they took on. When we look back, and think, "Gosh when did they grow up?" I'll remember, oh yeah, Costa Rica. They were really living life here – Pura Vida indeed! But I digress, on to the details…

We traveled on a red-eye via American Airlines from Seattle to Miami, and arrived in San Jose on Easter Sunday morning. Going through customs… was a breeze! Shortly after stepping into a very long line, we were taken out of line and taken to the front of the line! Why you ask? Because we were traveling with VIP’s (Very Impatient People = the kids). This seems to be a universal accommodation they make for those traveling with young children, as we had the same experience when going back through customs in the US.

We chose to rent a car through Wild Rider, who although weren’t the very cheapest have unanimously fantastic ratings and reviews from ALL of their clients, and that just couldn’t be said for any other company. The peace of mind of knowing that you are dealing with an honest and well run company up front I feel is worth it. Jose and Thorsten (the owner) were right there waiting for us when we exited the airport. Jose gave us an excellent map of Costa Rica, and highlighted our whole route for us, along with a few personal recommendations of things not to miss. We used this map faithfully during our entire trip! Now off to La Fortuna…

We had a nice drive to La Fortuna welcoming us back to Costa Rica. It took us roughly 3 hours (with one potty stop for the kids), and that included about 15 minutes of driving through some pretty thick pea soup fog.

We arrived at Hotel El Silencio Del Campo, where we were welcomed by the reception with 4 frozen fruity drinks! Those were one of those times, where you just couldn’t imagine anything tasting better! We loved our stay here. I took advantage of their free facial they offer (for those who might also want to take advantage of this, know you have to have the facial done on the day of your arrival or the very next day). I chose to have it that very evening, and wow, what a welcome to paradise!

Breakfast was included in our stay and offered about 6 options (which were constant) throughout our stay. Everything was wonderfully and deliciously prepared, and we couldn’t have asked for more, including our super great waiter, Junior. He was so attentive and kind. I had made up travel journals for our daughters to work on during our trip, and for my oldest daughter included a “Be a Reporter” section were she had a list of questions to ask a question about Costa Rica (i.e. What three colors are in the Costa Rican flag?) to someone we encountered during our day. Junior was eager each morning to answer her questions about his home. He was a true example of wonderful hospitality.

La Fortuna Activities…

Proyecto Asis – it is short drive from La Fortuna and we chose to take their 1 o’clock tour and volunteer (advance reservations are required, and we did this directly with them, through their website/email). This was a great experience for all of us! Adriana was our guide, and was such a wonderful teacher, impressing upon the children why it is never okay to have wild animals as pets, and excitedly told the children when we came to an animal that would soon be able to be released (which is their goal). Here, we had the opportunity to hold hands with monkeys, hold a pair of baby monkeys, feed toucans, macaws, monkeys, peccaries, and others. We loved the snack time between the tour and volunteer portion, when we had the chance to sit down and visit with and connect with Adriana, to learn about her life, share things about ours, talk about Costa Rica, etc. They also have some resident sloths in the trees, which we saw from afar, but we saw another sloth up close using the power lines as his freeway on the drive home from Proyecto Asis.

Catarata Rio Fortuna – aka La Fortuna Waterfall - This was a great walk/hike with lots of stairs to the waterfall, which we took a chilly swim in at the base, followed by a small picnic. Just heaven! Note: A special thanks to the stairmaster at the Y making this trek with a 3 year old on my back no problem. When we reached the bottom of the falls, (about 12:30pm) all of the people who were brought in by the buses were gathering and heading back up to leave, and that left the entire place to us, along with a few others.

Arenal EcoZoo - (as it is now called) in El Castillo (about 12 km from La Fortuna). When we visited 8 years ago, it was simply known as the Serpenteria, but it has had a great deal of expansion, and houses many more species, a collection of spiders and insects, a butterfly garden, turtles, a small crocodile, along with others (and even has a restaurant). It is a nice and scenic drive – you will find the animal encounters are as plentiful as the education you receive. The kids were so brave, and held every snake, lizard, frog, etc. they were offered, minus the tarantula. I guess even 6 and 3 year olds have to draw the line somewhere. Loved “tickling” the blue morpho chrysalis, and watching it wiggle (their defense against predators). Thumbs up from everyone!

Hot Springs – we went to the hot springs (some cold, some warm, and some hot) at the hotel every night we were there – the children love swimming, and for all of us it was a great way to relax from our full day’s adventure, and take in the night time sounds and sights (keep your eyes peeled for the fireflys).

La Fortuna Eats… (in order of like)

Soda Viquez – this was our favorite place to eat in La Fortuna, so much so we ate here twice! Not touristy, not expensive, and real authentic food that was DELICIOUS! Choose any of their casado’s here, and you can’t go wrong! Very friendly staff too.

El Novillo Steak House – the ceviche! You have to order the ceviche! Very friendly waiter here, Jaro, who took great care of us, and we enjoyed great steak here, of course!

Rain Forest Coffee House – we went here for lunch, which I thought was an imperative being that they were #1 on Tripadvisor, but left wondering how they got to be #1? The food was unmemorable; the waitress forgot my husband’s coffee to accompany our dessert, just ho-hum here.

On our way to La Carolina Lodge next… And also working on a photo album of pictures to share!

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