When you have had a shower outside in the rain and an open air bath on your balcony (safely concealed by the jungle!), it seems fairly pointless to wear an uncomfortable rain coat to go on a hike. Skin is waterproof after all? So today, I carried nothing except my camera and didn't let the rain bother me at all. I was feeling rather in harmony with Mother Nature (en Armenia con la Madre Naturaleza) and excited to explore Arenal Volcano National Park.
A warm welcome at Nayara Springs and the return of the sun enticed us into sampling a Caribbean fashion cocktail (7 year old Centenario rum, coconut water infused with rice, cinnamon and orang peel, orange syrup and angostura bitters) and spending the rest of the day doing little more than exploring everything this very beautiful resort has to offer - see the accommodation review for all the details.
Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel is a small resort-style, ecologically-conscious hotel right in the centre of the lush cloud forest of Rio Celeste in Volcan Tenorio National Park. You can walk down to the beautiful blue river directly from the hotel.
Established as a National Park in 1995, Rio Celeste is in the cloud forest region. A massive 3.7 metres of rain falls here a year - around six times more than the UK - and that sometimes feels very wet! A legend tells that after God was done painting the sky, he washed his brushes in the river that now bears the name of Rio Celeste - Light Blue River. It was worth a 4 hour hike to see how beautiful this looks in real life.
This afternoon, I am visiting the Celeste River National Park aiming to walk with the eyes of a tour guide and see if that helps me to spot wildlife I would otherwise have missed. Come and walk with me and see what I discovered ...
Peace and comfort in the middle of the rainforest. - Manatus Hotel is the exclusive way to enjoy remote Tortugero
Guess what - it rains in a rainforest! Last night, it rained pretty well all night. It hammered on the tin roof of the lodge for all it was worth, building up to a crescendo drum beat for a few deafening minutes before petering out to a bit of a tap dance and a finale of sprinkles and tinkles in the gutters. Then silence, filled only by the constant hum of the air con which intermittently halted as the electricity cut out.
Our base in the Tortugero National Park is the Manatus Lodge. Access is via boat transfer only - and let's hope they keep it that way!
The transfer from Alajuela to Tortugero took all morning - but what a lovely way to spend it. We drove past banana plantations, fields of papaya, coconuts and plantains learning a little about the beautiful country that is Costa Rica (Rich Coast) as we travelled.
Where to stay in Alujela - Xandari Resort & Spa Accommodation Review Xandari Resort & Spa Alajuela has 24 spacious architecturally designed villas nestled on a 40-acre plantation surrounded by…
Arrival in Costa Rica - The start of a three week trip. An infinite paradise of possibilities beckons, starting with San Jose, Alajuela and a welcome drink of Pipa Fria.
Costa Rica - What to read before you go.
Costa Rica - What I'm Packing for a Three Week Trip. All the essentials and what you need to make sure to take to get the most out of your trip.
Costa Rica - Pura Vide. What is it all about? It's time to join me on a three week trip to find out ...
Final reflections on a great road trip to WA. The questions I asked myself at the beginning of the trip have now all been answered ...
We have stayed in three hotels in Perth during this trip and the Duxton Hotel was by far our favourite. This is the place we will stay when we return here. The room has all the usual comforts you expect of a good city centre hotel - including a bath and fast free wi-fi.
A great way of spending our last day here was to drop off the hire car and buy a combo cruise/tram (commentated)/prison (tour) ticket for Fremantle (or Freo as they call it here). IT is lively authentic port with plenty of shops and rstaurants to explore and some interesting history to boot.
Where to Stay in Cervantes - Pinnacles Edge Resort Accommodation Review This hotel is a sister hotel to the Kalbarri Resort, so it felt very familiar when we arrived here.…
Mount Lesueur National Park is one of the world bio diversity hotspots as a result of of its severely impoverished soil and the unforgivingly low rates of phosphorous. 900 flora species grow here - 10% of WA's flora. These are the species that are known too - it is highly likely that others exist in the dense bush that no-one has yet found. It has seven species of Declared Rare Flora. In late Winter to Spring, it erupts into a rainbow of colour and you can see rare orchids and several varieties of kangaroo paw as well as many other beautiful plants.
The road from Kalbarri to Cervantes is 378 kms (4 hrs 7 mins), but offers plenty to see on the way including two "Must Do" attractions: Pink Lake (Hutt Lagoon) and The Pinnacles.
Kalbarri Edge Resort is an excellent place to stay in Kalbarri. The resort is operated on a timeshare kind of basis, so owners come for 4 weeks a year and rent out their apartments for the remainder of the year, paying a management fee. The apartment we had was very spacious with a well equipped kitchen, large gas Jumbuck barbie on the patio, a washing machine and a good sized spa bath. There is also a swimming pool in the grounds. The Tourist Office is just a short walk away as is the beach and a really good little supermarket.
It is 443 kms from Carnarvon to Kalbarri - 4 and a half hours. We get off early and broke the journey at the Billabong Roadhouse - familiar ground from earlier in the trip, but this time, I stopped to take a quick photo of the funny flier for kangaroo burgers and a joke you can get hard copies of for free on request - you just have to love the great Aussie sense of humour. The temperature had dropped a bit today and the wind had picked up, but they told us it often reaches 49 degrees on Christmas Day here and tops out at around 53 degrees in January - definitely a place to avoid in our winter then.
All in all, the Carnarvon Motel was an unexpected mini highlight of the trip. For a room 1/6th of the price of the luxurious Sal Salis Resort we had just come from, we had a comfortable bed, bathroom and all you would expect from a decent motel room. The bonus though was great local company in the bar during happy hour (the beer is very cheap here at $6 a pint) - we cried laughing at some of the good humoured banter. This was followed by a great steak in the "Hot Rocks" restaurant. You cook your steak just to your liking on a hot lava rock at your table.
Exmouth to Carnarvon Coral Reef, Wallabies and The Dish Our last day at Sal Salis started early as we had a 4 hour 38 minute drive from Exmouth to Carnarvon…
We arrived at Sal Salis in good time for a 2pm check-in and were blown away by it. This really is a very special place to stay indeed. It is a digital detox zone (no wi-fi), so forgive me, but I am going to say little more about our stay here beyond the accommodation review. The photos can do the talking and if you want to know more, then add this place to your bucket list and come and discover it all for yourself - I promise you, you will not leave disappointed.
The Ningaloo Reef Resort is fairly small - all apartments and no caravans etc. It has a really great location - all apartments look out onto the ocean and you can walk out straight to the beach from them. The apartment style accommodation is very spacious - we could have fitted another three in ours easily.
It is a long road from Coral Bay to Exmouth and we didn’t really have much time to explore Coral Bay as we were only staying one night and had a drive the next day. I would have liked to take a snorkelling trip, but there were no tours running as it was close to the end of the season here and a Sunday. I am beginning to appreciate just how quiet Sundays can be in WA. Many shops and tourist facilities close up - just like England 20 years ago. It can be difficult to find places to eat on a Sunday too.
We made an early start today on our journey from Monkey Mia to Ningaloo Reef so we could take a pre-booked early morning scenic flight with Shark Bay Aviation. Their “bargain” flight is 40 minutes long and is a really great way to get a different perspective on this vast and largely inaccessible wilderness area. You get superb views of the huge salt works, lagoons, Dirk Hartog Island, Steep Point (the most Westerly point of mainland Australia), sea clliffs and the wondrous crystal clear blue spectrum of the Indian Ocean.
Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort is a great beach front location with dolphin feeding three times a day on your doorstep. The restaurant is extremely good for dinner and serves a good breakfast and coffee in the morning too. There is a good laundry facility and a swimming pool.
A great coffee is always a good way to start the day and Australia is truly expert at it. The flat white at the Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort is particularly good and the ocean side restaurant is a lovely spot for breakfast. A pod of dolphins pops in reliably