Costa Rica: Liberia to Laguna Arenal – via Nicoya Peninsula and Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve

With most of the central american countries we’ve passed through we’ve picked a more-or-less direct route. Costa Rica has been a bit different for an increasing number of reasons. We’re got the chance to meet up with some much loved friends of Sarah’s who are coming on holiday here from Canada. We didn’t manage to visit them at the beginning of the trip, so we’re really looking forward to doing so here. Getting coordinated with their arrival and plans has meant that we’re taking the longer and more winding route. They’re also providing courier services for a number of things we need to replace broken and worn-out parts of our kit.

The Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica is heavily touristed. Our loop around its edges inevitably passed some of the more popular beaches. The challenge was finding quieter playas to end the day. Playa Ocotal was one such, and asking proved profitable. We were happily allowed to camp next to the beach by the man at the local (empty) bar who probably hoped we'd provide custom.
The next day we found a nice rutted and sketchy small road to get us away from the beach-seeker in hire cars. Pausing to replace Anna's tyre, we saw that this cow had had the lid of a plastic barrel tied to its face. Comical as it proved, we were somewhat at a loss to work out the reason

Our ‘community’ of like-minded cycle tourists has been expanding. One of the early members, whom we’d been inspired by but never met, was Anna Kortschak ( We’d used her route through northern México and wandered whether we’d ever meet in person. At the end of our rest day in Liberia she randomly turned up at the hostel we were staying in. Much nattering ensued!

All is well with the world. Sarah and Anna Kortschak, another cycle tourist who we've been tracking down México and central america, enjoying the back roads of the peninsula, heading for Potrero.
Playa Brasilito was another of the lesser frequented beaches, and had some of the better bodysurfing waves we tried. Luminous evening stormlight helped the mood
Even the small, dirt roads we used for most of our Nicoya navigation had billboards proclaiming the merits of gated, secure "eco"communities. We were never sure what was "eco" about them. Costa Rica has a substantial US expat population so the majority of adverts and property sale notices are in english or spanglish at most
Rain dominates the day, with afternoon or evening storms, and sometimes frontal systems giving continual lighter wetness. All of this swells the rivers, meaning that we had a better time getting around than the car-drivers with lots of these handy foot bridges.
Brooding skies and storm-surf formed the backdrop to a nice section of coast from Playa Tamarindo to Playa Garzo with a only a few ramshackle villages. The peace was probably aided by a number of river crossing that would have been difficult by car

Less welcome, has been the discovery that my front wheel rim has cracked starting at the tyre valve hole. I only found this while I was replacing my first ever broken spoke. The manufacturers, Velocity (an Australian brand) are sending an upgraded replacement to us in Costa Rica, free of charge. So we’re reduced to waiting for mail as usual. Hopefully this time things’ll work out that all is fixed up for when we part company from our Canadian friends…

Heading up into the mountains and cloud forests after leaving the peninsula we found some very welcome swimming opportunities. Anna getting fully immersed
and Sarah getting a shower
There are 2 cloud forest reserves in the Costa Rican highlands. Monteverde is the more famous, but we chose Santa Elena as there are fewer people. Peace reigns, with tantalising bird calls and true to the name, lots of cloud...
We spent an afternoon following one of the walking trails. There's lots of colour to punctuate the verdant lushness
Sarah and Anna taking a break along the often steeply undulating rocky dirt road from Santa Elena to Tilarán

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