San José is the capital city of Costa Rica which is located in Central America. San José offers the following points of interest for tourists and photographers;
- Day trips to Arenal volcano
- Day trips to the Tortuguero national park
- Day trips to Poás Volcano or Irazu Volcano
- Day trips to Cerro Chirripó
- National theater of Costa Rica
- La Fortuna waterfall
- Winchester Mystery House
- Downtown San José
- Many museums and churches
San José makes a great base to take day tours to the various sites of Costa Rica. The city itself is nice enough with lots of restaurants, bars, shopping malls and a few sites. I actually didn’t take any photos of the city as I was distracted by all the great day tours I was taking where I got thousands of pictures (which I share on Instagram). However, I do recommend staying in the city for the amenities, great value hotels and the fact that it’s very walkable. The tour companies arranges to pick you up and drop you off from your hotel, your hotel will probably have a information about the tour companies and prices. I went with Expediciones Tropicales, they are very professional.
I love to visit volcanoes and there are plenty to visit in Costa Rica. On the Poás Volcano tour, the driver almost performed an emergency stop when he saw a Sloth at the side of the road. Before going up the Volcano, the tour stopped at a coffee plantation. I must mention that the coffee here is even better than that of Colombia, could it be because it’s grown on volcano enriched soil? When you get to the top of the volcano, you need a bit of luck that the view is not blocked by clouds. Part of the time I was up there I couldn’t see anything, but I managed to take the above Poás Volcano photo. Take a coat, it can be cold up there!
Another tour I took was the 3 in 1 rainforest tour where there were lots of guaranteed animal sightings and photo opportunities. Pictured above is a common Basilisk lizard. These lizards are amazing, they can run on top of the water, which is why they are given the name, Jesus Christ lizard. There were also lots of different types of monkeys, exotic birds and insects. This tour took me as far as the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica which has a black sand beach, black because of the volcanic lava deposits.
I also took an Irazu volcano tour, the pictures you’ll see of this volcano will have an emerald lake in the crater. Unfortunately, I was not there in correct season, so it was just a crater. Nevertheless, it is a beautiful volcano and worth a trip to the top for any photographer, any time of year. I was lucky with the weather this day though!
There is another volcano day tour which is possible from San José, Arenal Volcano, a perfect cone shaped volcano. This is the most famous volcano in Costa Rica which has had live magma visible at night. Most Arenal volcano tours are coupled with a hot springs visit. Arenal volcano has also featured in the Will and Jaden Smith movie, After Earth.
Costa Rica is a beautiful country, in many other countries the La Fortuna waterfall would be a major tourist attraction. But in Costa Rica, it’s just one beautiful attraction of many. I really recommend you visit Costa Rica, it is a small country with so much beauty packed in.
After successfully arriving in Costa Rica from Panama using Tica Bus, I decided to use them again for the trip north to Nicaragua. Again it was a successful, comfortable and safe journey. The cost was $28 for the 8 hour journey, and the border crossing took about an hour, was organised and problem free.