Costa Rica: Day 4-Gandoca-Manzanillo Refuge Jungle Hike

To combat the frigid below-zero temperatures Michigan has been experiencing lately, I find myself daydreaming of being back in Costa Rica. Time for another recap!

Missed earlier recaps? Catch up here:

We began our day by fueling up with breakfast at the hotel – fresh fruits, cereal, and a hot entrée each morning. And a daily dose of the hotel’s super strong euphoria-inducing coffee! For some reason I dropped the ball on photographing breakfast during our trip.

On Day 4 we were up bright and early because our day’s excursion began at 7:00 AM. While we were in Costa Rica in late September through early October, I was easily up by 5:30 AM each day because the sun rose so early and shone into our room each morning (and we were in bed quite early because it was dark out by 5:30-6:00 PM each evening.) I woke up feeling refreshed, hearing the sounds of ocean waves, chirping birds, and howling monkeys, and feeling the warm tropical breeze flow into our hotel room each morning, and it was bliss.

At 7:00 AM, Gecko Trail Adventures picked us up and drove us to meet up with our guide for the day, Ricky. It was just the huz, me, and Ricky, so we had our own personal tour guide for much of the day! The day’s excursion was a visit to the Gandoca-Manzanillo Refuge for a 4-hour jungle hike.

Here’s our guide Ricky helping the huz walk across this plank during our hike.


The first hour of our hike was along the coast of the Caribbean. Along the way Ricky taught us all sorts of interesting tidbits about the local plants and trees growing in the rainforest, including medicinal uses for many of the plants we saw, pointing out edible fruits, and demonstrating practical uses for plants (such as heating banana leaves and molding them into bowls or making twine from pineapple leaves.)


We passed several locals on our way into the jungle, and each and every one of them developed a beaming grin and shouted a greeting when they saw our guide Ricky, who seemed to be a local celebrity. He even leant us his binoculars during our hike so we could get a better look at the wildlife along the way.

We saw howler monkeys, sloths, a toucan, poisonous snakes, a giant spider (which he picked up and held, and let crawl all over his face!), a hummingbird nest, bullet ants, frogs, and more! Without our extremely knowledgeable guide, we would have never been able to locate even a fraction of the wildlife we saw.


About an hour into our hike, we crossed paths with another couple visiting the area from Israel, who asked if they could join in on our tour (and they paid too, for the record), and we were happy to have the company.


During the next three hours of our hike, we ventured deeper into the rainforest. Hiking the rainforest has been a dream of mine since I was a young child, so this really was a dream come true for me! It was really spectacular.


During our hike, we took several breaks so that Ricky could teach us about what we were seeing. His depth of knowledge of the area was extremely impressive.


Below, can you spy the following!?:

  • Noni Fruit
  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider
  • Eyelash Viper Snake
  • Lizard
  • Pineapple plant

copied and resized for blog

After our four hour hike through the rainforest (mind you it was about 89 F degrees as well!), we made it to this perfectly idyllic vantage point:


It felt like our own hidden paradise – there were no other people in sight!


Was seriously considering never leaving Costa Rica at this point:


After resting up and enjoying the spectacular views for a while, we parted ways with our new Israeli friends, and our guide led us back to our tour van, which returned us to our hotel just in time for a late lunch. Phew! What an adventure!

I refueled with a hummus and veggie wrap with fries for lunch.


Food-envy eliciting nachos for the huz’s lunch.


After lunch, we actually switched rooms. When we initially made our reservation, neither of the two rooms we most wanted were available for a full seven nights in a row, so we booked our first three nights in the glorious Red Frog Suite (A/C, more privacy, ground level, no ocean views, personal pool!) and spent our last four nights in the also glorious Howler Suite (no A/C, less privacy, soaking tub, sea-view corner room on second floor).

The huge pro of our “new” room was this absolutely spectacular ocean view balcony. I couldn’t even capture the entire balcony in one picture, but we also had two lounge chairs and a small dining table on our balcony. YOU CAN SEE THE OCEAN.


Queen bed and one of only two rooms at the resort with a TV (which we barely needed.)


The Howler Suite also features a huge bathroom with this soaking tub and shutters that can be opened for an ocean view.


We never got around to trying out the soaking tub, instead preferring our shower with an equally pleasant view.


Peeking out the window at the top of the shower, you can see the beach!


After settling into our room, we spent the rest of the afternoon resting our weary bones in our hammock, and then heading downstairs for dinner and a round or two of tropical dranks. I had a sea bass entrée for dinner which was one of my favorite meals of the week.

Day 5_09302014_Gandoca Manzanillo

I wanna go back!


5 thoughts on “Costa Rica: Day 4-Gandoca-Manzanillo Refuge Jungle Hike

  1. Pingback: Costa Rica: Day 5-Sloth Sanctuary Insider’s Tour | Meg Goes Nom Nom

  2. Pingback: Costa Rica: Day 6-Power Outage | Meg Goes Nom Nom

  3. Pingback: Costa Rica: Day 7-Tortuguero Canals and Banana Plantation | Meg Goes Nom Nom

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