Costa Rica With Caravan Tours, part 2

The Nicaraguan border

Rio Frío Cruise to Nicaragua, War and… Relaxation

It was early in the morning and we were headed to Los Chiles, a border town close to Nicaragua where we boarded a river boat on the Rio Frío (the Cold River).

Bats on the bank of the river
Long-nosed bats on the bank of the river

Rolando pointed out howler monkeys and spider monkeys in the trees, caiman in the river, many different types of birds, iguana and other animals.

Google Maps Almost Caused A War…


In 2010, when Nicaragua saw that Google maps placed a disputed territory in Nicaragua, they declared this to be Nicaraguan territory.

Costa Rica’s deputy foreign minister complained to Google and the map was adjusted, but Nicaragua left 50 soldiers in the disputed area, holding onto the claim. Costa Rica has no military,

The disagreement dates all the way back to a succession vote in some border towns back in 1824.

Costa Rica moved the fight to the U.N. Security Council and a decision was just reached in February 2018, returning the territory to Costa Rica.


When our bus passed a baseball field, Rolando said this was for Nicaraguan migrant workers, since Costa Ricans don’t play baseball.

The Nicaraguan border
We made it to the Nicaraguan border. There were no soldiers waiting to capture us!

Volcanic Hot Springs


We ate lunch in Los Chiles, the border town on the Costa Rican side, and then headed back to the hotel to shower and take a five-minute bus ride to the volcanic hot springs at the base of Arenal Volcano to soothe our tired muscles from all the running around we were doing. I don’t have photos (except this one right above) since it’s not practical to wade through hot sulphuric water with a camera raised in one hand so it doesn’t get wet, but these springs were built right in volcanic rock! There are acres and acres of springs to relax in.

The Hanging Bridges of Arenal National Park


Early the next morning, Rolando brought us to walk the hanging bridges at the upper level of the rainforest canopy. There are hills so you’re still walking on ground, but there are parts where you cross through the canopy on hanging bridges.


A naturalist park guide takes you through and he’s an expert at spotting the snakes, birds and groups of biting ants (don’t wear open-toe shoes!). He also explained the vegetation and the climate to us.

Guanacaste Marriott Resort


By day 6, it already felt like a long, busy trip and everyone appreciated the stay at the 5-star Marriott, with its infinity pool, private beach, luxurious buffets and an open bar for three hours in the afternoon!

Varied Climate

Costa Rica is a small country but has a varied climate. We had been in higher altitudes where it’s cooler and more humid. If you live in these areas, you’ll find moss on the clothing in your closet.

Now we were on Costa Rica’s west coast, which is dryer and much hotter. On the bus, Rolando pointed out the drastic change in landscape. We arrived in Guanacaste, full of resorts with its perfect beach weather.

Manuel Antonio National Park


The last stop was Manuel Antonio National Park. Our hotel had a rooftop bar with a view of the rainforest and the ocean behind it! Each room also had a view of the rainforest and again, we were able to hear all of the animals at night, as well as see some monkeys from your hotel room window.

Rolando had to take an elderly gentleman to the nearest hospital, over two hours away. The man was dehydrated. Rolando warned us from the beginning:

  1. Eat yogurt every morning to help you with digestion
  2. Drink lots of water to avoid dehydration

Caravan provides you with a fresh bottle of water every two days with unlimited refills of filtered water from a dispenser on the bus.


The next morning, Rolando brought everyone into Manuel Antonio National Park for a sunrise tour, but we opted out. We took a taxi into Quepos, the nearby coastal city. The two things we lacked on this wonderful tour was time alone, and the opportunity to explore on our own and meet new people.


We dined alone, too. We took a taxi to El Avion (the airplane) restaurant for a sunset dinner. The restaurant is built around an old Fairchild C-123 cargo plane that President Reagan’s military used in their secret Iran-Contra operations, where the United States sold arms to Iran. The money was used to fund operations against the Contras, the paramilitary group fighting the Sandinistas. This plane was shot down over Nicaragua. Years later, the restaurant owners bought it, shipped it to Costa Rica for their restaurant.


The fuselage is a bar. Walk through the fuselage and you enter onto a large patio restaurant with a breathtaking view of the ocean!

Don’t worry about the geckos on the ceiling. They eat insects.

I have written about the highlights, but we saw much more, including sloths and iguanas. Whereas Guatemala was all about the Maya, as you can tell, Costa Rica is all about wildlife.

What Makes Caravan Such A Good Deal?

Our traveling companions ranged in age between 4 to 80 and everyone got along well.

Although we prefer traveling on our own, it’s not as affordable as a Costa Rica package tour like this one from Caravan. Airport pickup, all meals included, beautiful hotels, all day tours paid for, all you can drink at open bars at two hotels, and a highly-skilled tour guide for a 9 day tour at $1,195 during peak travel season is what they promise and exactly what you get!

Did you read part 1?