Costa Rica With Caravan Tours

When I showed Dan the small Caravan Tours ad in Real Simple magazine, he immediately began reading dozens of glowing Trip Advisor reviews and, within the hour, we began our way through the booking process for our Costa Rica tour vacation.

This would be our first group tour since we like to explore on our own, talk to people, and make spontaneous decisions about what to do next. But this would be an extra trip that year and the value was too good to pass up! There’s no way that you can match the high-volume discounts that Caravan Tours receives.

The 9 days were packed with activities and filled with information from our knowledgeable and entertaining guide, Rolando. Rolando was one of the highlights of the trip, teaching us about Costa Rican history and culture, spotting animals and arranging for all of our needs, while making us laugh the entire time! Rolando is a Tico (Costa Rican) but speaks flawless English!

I won’t write about every single thing we saw, just the best parts… Costa Rica tourism offers a lot

Poás Volcano and the Escalonia Cloud Forest

At the mouth of Poás Volcano in Costa Rica

Rolando brought us to the mouth of the volcano, an elevation of 2,574 meters (8,860 feet). Poás Volcano is sulphuric, so that means there’s no lava. These sulphuric gases you see cause acid rain. You cannot stay here for too long.

The volcano was temporarily closed in 2017 due to volcanic eruptions.


Poás is next to the Escalonia Cloud Forest, where we got to explore on our own. A cloud forest is like a rain forest, but it’s high in humidity with much less rainfall than a rain forest. The walk was perfect to unwind from work stress.

Doka Estate Coffee Plantation


Poás is also a region of quality coffee production, so our next stop was the Doka Estate coffee plantation. Here we learned about the region’s coffee production and this plantation’s process of growing the coffee beans and producing high quality coffee.

The guide explained how some countries opt to produce high quantities/low quality and others opt for low quantities/high quality. Costa Rica’s coffee is high quality.

Arenal Region

Town of Fortuna
The town of Fortuna with the Arenal volcano behind us.

We arrived at the town of La Fortuna near Arenal volcano, just in time for lunch and some free time in town. We ate and then headed straight for the supermarket, one of our favorite things to visit wherever we go!

Moving To Costa Rica

Many Americans, Canadians, Europeans and Austrailians have moved to Costa Rica for its simple, slow lifestyle, beautiful landscapes and its low-cost living. Rolando even told the group the income required and the paperwork that needs to be done to become a legal resident. Costa Rica is on our list of possible places to live.

Arenal Manoa Hotel and Crossing an Alligator Swamp In The Dark


Everyone was excited to see how beautiful the hotel was! Each cabin had a patio and a view of the volcano.


I had been teasing Dan, telling him there would be flying ants at dinner. Once at a hotel on Margarita Island in Venezuela, flying ants swooped onto our plates as soon as the waiter set them down on the table. I was comfortable just pushing them off with my knife with each bite, but Dan couldn’t eat a thing that night.


I teased him but he had his revenge… fast! The restaurant was a ten-minute walk along a dark path. We used Dan’s iPhone flashlight to see where we were going and to make sure we wouldn’t fall off the bridge into an alligator swamp.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while or my Instagram, you know that the one thing I’m terrified of is frogs. As we were walking to dinner, Dan shined his flashlight and illuminated several frogs in our path! We made it passed the frogs and across a bridge, over what looked like it could be an alligator swamp. The restaurant had a full buffet ready for us and it was delicious! Luckily, there were no flying ants at the restaurant.

Bed(time) & Breakfast

When we turned out the lights to sleep, there was total darkness and we could hear the symphony of animals outside. We slept very well that night, until the alarm went off.

We headed for breakfast early. In the morning light, we could see that the “alligator swamp” was really just a stream…


We wanted enough time to eat breakfast and make sure we were fully packed for the next adventure. We remembered how Rolando had explained to all of us the difference between a tourist and a hitchhiker (“5 minutes” 😮 meaning, “Don’t be late!”). This next day turned out to be a lot of fun, full of adventure as we headed up the river into Nicaragua and found ourselves in the middle of an international border dispute and later enjoyed the most beautiful volcanic hot springs I could ever imagine!

View from breakfast at Arenal Manoa hotel
Buffet breakfast at Arenal Manoa hotel with Ana

Continue to Part 2

  • Will everyone make it back from the river cruise into Nicaragua, right in the middle of an international border dispute?!
  • Relaxing in the volcanic hot springs at the base of Arenal volcano
  • Enjoying luxury and drunkenness… in Costa Rica???
  • And more…

Costa Rica With Caravan Tours, part 2


  • I think I saw the coffee plantation in one of discovery channel’s tv shows. I would love to have a taste of some of that authentic coffee someday. Waiting for part 2! More power Aixa 🙂

    • Honestly and unfortunately, they send the highest quality to the richer countries. Still, there’s something about being there. Thank you, Carlo.

      • Would it be possible to purchase coffee directly from the plantation? Yes, it is really unfortunate if they only export the top produce to rich countries. I’m sure a lot of people visiting the plantation would also want to have a taste of their high quality coffee. Because I would, if ever I visit there. Ahaha well, thanks for sharing Aixa. 🙂

      • Yes, we bought coffee from the plantation to bring home and it was excellent. We also had lunch there and of course had their coffee. You wouldn’t be disappointed.

      • Lucky you! 🙂 I hope that I’ll be able to go there someday. Sightseeing is okay, but tasting their coffee would be the priority. Ahaha. Thanks Aixa.

    • Volcanoes are so exciting to see. My real adventure begins next year when we start looking for a new country to start a new life in. Costa Rica is on the list of possibilities…

  • Okay!
    Pictures are amazing, views are breathtaking, very well written, beautifully described and what else.
    A Perfect post! 🙂

      • It had to, after all Aixa was visiting Costa Rica for the first time.
        And after you described it to the WordPress community, it seems more merrier.

      • Wow, what a beautiful thing to say… Thank you.

    • Thank you, Richa! We were very pleasantly surprised that we liked an organized tour so much.

  • That breakfast view is sooo beautiful! And glad to know the tours to Costa Rica is just as good as the reviews. Sometimes they don’t turn out as good (watch for my tango post in BA!!).

    Costa Rica is my kind of place to go. I want to do a lot of outdoors activities. And I wonder if moving there will be over saturated and expensive by the time I’m ready to retire? 😁

    • I visited your website yesterday looking for something on your trip to Buenos Aires… As for Costa Rica, I also want a simpler life, closer to nature. We’ll see…

      • I’m really very slow at writing. You probably won’t see it until a few weeks from now. Lol!

        Yeah that’s what I want too. Closer to nature hopefully in my retirement 😊

  • What an informative post, Aixa! Hans and I talk about retiring abroad maybe to Chile. I’ve heard great things about Costa Rica, but fire ants might bother me…however, I’m OK with frogs, lol!

    • Thank you, Terri! It’s a very different way of life, more like what I had in Venezuela but it would be something new for Dan… Chile might be better for you. Chile is on our list too, since we have friends there. Maybe we’ll be neighbors 😉

      • I remember that your husband has family in Chile. I can’t wait for you to go and then read about your thoughts on it.

  • Such a great experience! I also really enjoy visiting the local supermarkets to see what different and new things I can try. I laughed out loud about the frogs; such cute, but slimy characters!

    • I don’t know what I hate so much about frogs but supermarkets are so much fun to visit. You’re the fourth person I’ve met who also like to visit them.

  • I really enjoyed reading the post. There are also a good sides when traveling with a group. Otherwise we also like to explore by ourselves, but if you have a whole package and is good like this why not. The coffee plantation looks interesting. That volcano is on a really high altitude. Love your photos.

    • Thank you, Vesna. A great tour guide makes the difference, as I’m sure your groups know.

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