Having just returned from my first trip since the beginning of the pandemic in March of 2020, I have to say it was incredible to travel again!
I had the chance to explore the ecotourism hot spot of Costa Rica with the help of my favorite small group adventure company, G Adventures. When I decided I was ready to travel again, they were my first choice for a tour company. I have worked with them on escorted group trips and have travelled on their tours to Spain, Colombia and Peru. Each time, I’ve had wonderfully authentic cultural and adventure experiences. My equally adventurous colleague Krista decided to join me as my roommate so we could experience first hand of what is like to travel internationally again.
There was many questions in the weeks leading up to our trip.
What would like to be travelling internationally again?
What could we expect from Covid protocols on the tour, at our accommodations, at the restaurants we would visit, and on the excursions we would take?
Would local people be welcoming?
What could we expect while going through immigrations?
How quickly and easily would it be to get a PCR Covid test in a town at the base of a volcano for out return to Canada?
San Jose, Costa Rica
We arrived at Toronto airport bright and early on a Friday morning and made it through security for our flight to Costa Rica. Usually, you can get a direct flight from Toronto but with fewer routes currently available, we had a 4-hour layover in Panama, Copa Airlines Central American hub. After a bite to eat at Margaritaville in the Panama airport, we were on the quick flight to San Jose, Costa Rica. We landed in the early evening and after a relatively easy time through immigration, we took a taxi from the airport to our hotel. We were greeted by a friendly hotel employee that brought us to a handwashing station at the hotel entrance, after checking our temperatures and having us use shoe cleaning mats. Everyone wore a mask inside common areas of the hotel.
The next morning we walked 10 minutes from our hotel to meet our guide for a “Free San Jose Walking Tour” in the downtown area of San Jose. (One of my favourite things to do in a new city! You can find them in many great cities around the world) Our guide Jorje, who is a history and tourism major at the local university led us on a 2.5-hour walk around points of interest, stunning parks and places of significance in San Jose. Everyone on the walking tour wore their masks when in close proximity to one another, even outdoors.
After we finished our walking tour, we explored the central market and main shopping district areas on our own. Most people in the streets wore masks at all times. All stores had strict masking policies and you were asked to use hand sanitizer as you entered. We found a restaurant with a view of the street and a beautiful courtyard for lunch. We were once again greeted by an enthusiastic employee and asked to wash our hands at the sink set up at the entrance. Masks were to be worn anytime you were not seated at your table.
We finished lunch just in time for the skies to open up for an afternoon thunderstorm. We were well prepared with our rain jackets and found our way back to our hotel for our evening meeting with our G Adventure CEO (local guide) and to meet our travel group for the first time.
Our small group gathered in a conference room at 6 pm and met our guide for the week, who happened to also be named Jorje, and our 10 other travel companions. Our group ranged in ages from a couple of friends in their late 20’s to a lovely couple in their early 70’s. After a round of introductions, Jorje went over our travel itinerary, some housekeeping items, and the Covid protocols on our tour which included masking while in our tour bus, hand hygiene and keeping our social distance as much as possible from people not in our tour. Most of our group decided to enjoy a dinner together at the hotel restaurant.
We departed at 8am the next morning for our bus ride into the mountains of the continental divide to our first destination. Monteverde is home to a cloud forest bio reserve, coffee plantations and considered one of the country’s top ecotourism destinations.
Make sure to come back and read the next part of my group adventure with G Adventures in Costa Rica.
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