Following a few days in Jaco, I decided it was time for a change in scenery and hopefully a slightly less touristy destination, which as it turned out is the south of the Costa Rican Caribbean Coast. I drove straight to Puerto Viejo, and had a nice little dinner and a quiet first night there. In the morning I decided to drive down to the Manzanillo Wild Life Reserve, which is by now my favourite reserve, at least of the ones I have seen to date. There is no admission fee which is a bonus, and there is no map nor are there any signs pointing out the trails, so you are actually in nature… You can get a little lost, but considering that the sea is close by for orientation, you are never truly lost. Besides the 1 main trail I found, there are a ton of small trails, which sometimes are barely visible going left and right, a lot of them end up at very secluded and quiet beaches, I spent a few afternoons there, and often did not see another soul for a few hours.
Originally I had planned to stay a total of 3 nights, 2 of which in the Casa Merlin, a nice little B&B right in the middle between Puerto Viejo where I went for most dinners, and Manzanillo, where I spent most of my day time. I ended up adding 2 more nights at the Casa Merlin, as it was cheap, and quite well equipped, besides having been recently renovated the location is unbeatable, a little way from the main street in the jungle, but with easy access to everything in the area.
The second day I started off by going to the Jaguar Rescue Centre, where they take in injured and/or orphaned animals, and do what they can to set them free in the wild again. Quite a nice station, and entirely living from the tours they give, and donations they receive, so while you are here, worth checking out, and at the same time supporting a good cause! They have a lot of monkeys, snakes, some sloths, and birds. Their private reserve La Ceiba may well be worth checking out as well, but I did not go as the tours start at 7 in the morning and I have always been more of a night time guy.
One morning as I was driving to Puerto Viejo I ran into 2 girls I knew from language school so we had decided to hang out on a Thursday, and since they had no car, I took them down to Manzanillo, where we walked a bit along the beaches, discovered a nice cave that I had not seen before, and ended up hanging out at my favourite beach for a couple of hours. On the trail back to the car is where it got really interesting as we saw what was most likely a black Jaguarundi one of the wildcats still at home in Costa Rica. We saw it from about 20 to 30 meters away, and it was quite an impressive sight! Right there is when I knew why I had kept on adding nights to my stay here, it was to see this beautiful cat before heading out of Costa Rica and into Peru.
A few concluding thoughts on Costa Rica will come in the next couple of days, and by then I should also have arrived in Iquitos, Peru.