The Sloth Chronicles / Costa Rica
"River Rafting and the Selva Bananito Reserve"
I was brought to Costa Rica by a spontaneous urge to see a sloth in the wild. My trip would take me to some of the most remote and unpopulated areas of the country. I would also find the refuge for all of those hippies that were able to escape and live the life that so many of us dream of.
I arrived late in the evening to San Jose and stayed at the La Bergerac hotel for the night. I needed to get my rest for the river-rafting trip the next day. After some much needed rest, the shuttle bus that would take me to the rafting start point met me. If you are planning to do the rafting, I highly recommend at the least a waterproof disposable camera. You wont regret it... I do.
The rafting trip was 18 miles down the Pacuare River. It took us deep into untouched rainforest. At about four hours and after dumping three of our raft mates in the class III and IV rapids... We got to the end where we were greeted by the local children that asked us for our shoes?!?!? I shared a beer and got dressed into some dry cloths and left to my next destination, Selva Bananito Lodge.
I spend about 4 days at the Selva Bananito Lodge. Selva Bananito is a secluded rain forest lodge situated 20 km south and 15 km inland of Puerto Limón on the Atlantic side of Costa Rica. It is owned and operated by the Stein family, who moved to Costa Rica from South America in 1974. The experience was even better than what I expected!!! I had no electrical power and the water came directly from the river. The highlight of my time there was the hike up the river to the top of a waterfall. We had to repel down the falls to the bottom. I was really starting to have second thoughts about the whole repelling down the waterfalls thing. I remember thinking that this was a beautiful place to die, if it came down to it. As you can see I survived the situation.
I was introduced to so much wildlife and actually felt at peace here. I still feel a bit home sick for Selva Bananito and I plan to take another trip there soon. I’ll make sure to bring the proper cloths next time (you don’t want to know…).
But to this point, I haven’t spotted a sloth yet.
"Decent to the Beaches"
With bittersweet feelings I had to leave the mountains and rainforest for the Caribbean coast. After about an hour of driving we came to the town of Puerto Viejo and I was surprised to see so many “gringos” around but no “tourists” though. Puerto Viejo is a small surf/rasta town where it seems like everyone knows each other and everyone is cooooool.
I arrived at the Cariblue Resort and I was looking forward to seeing what the town held for food and nightlife, but it rained all night. So being stuck at the resort, I ordered an Italian-Caribe dinner and learned how to play a mean game of backgammon. I also indulged in over my fair share of some of the finest local sugarcane rum and cokes in the area. The Cariblue Resort was very nice and close the Cocles beach. Next time I go to the area I will stay a bit closer to the town though.
Most of my time here was spent just hanging out on the beach and bobbing up and down for hours in the sea. However, I regret not renting a surfboard and also a bike to explore the area a little more. Everyone travels on bikes here and they are everywhere for rent.
This area of the country is a gem that has not been spoiled by the major resorts. If you want to get a good feel of the true Caribbean surf town culture, Puerto Viejo is a great place to start. The people here are genuine, diverse and colorful!!!
"My Cheezy Closing..."
I never saw a sloth... But I found so much more than I expected. I guess that's a pretty good trade off. It's okay... This gives me another reason to come back.
the Caribbean side
"Pacuare River Rafting"
I started out my Costa Rica tour with an early morning pick up (way too early, in my opinion) to go rafting on the Pacuare River. I must admit that it was well worth the lost winks of sleep to be able enjoy such gorgeous landscapes while at the same time having a thrilling adventure. I have done some whitewater trips in my day, and I don't think any river trip has yet to come close to this one. The rapids are practically continuous, with smaller class twos at the beginning, leading up to some awesome class 4s at the end! I don't think we spend more than maybe 20 minutes the entire trip floating on flat water, most of the trip seemed to have rapids at ever bend.
"Selva Bananito Lodge"
After the river trip, I was picked up and taken to Selva Bananito Lodge for the night. While my time there was very short (staying only one night) I felt like I could have stayed for many days longer. The lodge is amazingly beautiful, blending very nicely with its surrounding, and isolated from the hustle and bustle of any sort of city life. The cabanas are without electricity, yet gorgeously clean, spacious, and comfortable. The food was spectacular, and I was able to participate in some quick rainforest activities the following morning before heading on to my next stop. I was able to try climbing the kapok tree, which proved to be a reall challenge, and then enjoyed a horseback ride to try the zipline canopy tour out to the birdwatching tower. This lodge was so great, I think it may have been my main highlight of the entire trip! The best part about it all is that they work very hard to help raise awareness for conservation efforts, and have even used the tourism dollars generated by lodge guests to start a foundation to help protect the bananito watershed areas, which is the source of water for thousands of people along the coastal communities. You can read more about the Limon Watershed Foudnation by clicking HERE
After a morning of activity at Selva Bananito, it was off to visit Puerto Viejo, inspect some hotels, and then turn in for the evening. I enjoyed a dinner with a young man I had met previously at the lodge at Cariblue Bungalows (who have a fantastic chef, whoever he/she is). I think this was one of my best meals on the whole Costa Rica trip! I had just enough time to turn in, as I was being picked up the next morning at like 6AM for a long drive across the country. The next morning, before meeting my driver, I noticed a little critter greeting me on the porch. I am grateful the lizard was outside my bungalow, rather than in it!
waterfront and reef in front of diveshop
Reefrunnr dive shop
Punta Uva a few years ago
more recent street view
Punta Uva beach is really good ? In sorroundings are there supermarket or/and restaurants ? prices and quality ?
What is the better period of the year to go ?
Re: Punta Uva
Punta Uva is really good if you want to be in a secluded beach, it is really peaceful...but there aren't many supermarkets or restaurants around there, you'd have to take a bus to Pto Viejo for that..
The best period of the year to go is from October to the beginning of December
Re: Punta Uva
I live in Puerto Viejo, just down the road from Punta Uva. The beach at Punta Uva is one of the most popular swimming beaches around. There are just one or two restaurants in walking distance and only one little grocery store. You'll need to ride a bike, take a taxi or have a rental car to find more choices for those things. The live music and nice restaurants are mostly in Puerto Viejo.
As for time of year - now is the best. From late August to early November we are in our dry season. Bright sunny skies and crystal blue water make for an absolutely beautiful vacation. But it is still considered "low season" tourist-wise so the prices will be lower than around the holidays. Any more questions, just ask!
Re: Punta Uva
Costa Rica Tree House Lodge is popular and near Punta Uva. Budget and availability are the problems.