Puntarenas (Puerto Caldera) Rainforest Tour Excursion Reviews
The "port" at Puntarenas is a simple jetty jutting out to the sea. It is just wide enough to allow a bus in each direction and limited foot traffic. The distance along the jetty from the front of the ship is probably 150-200 yards. The day we were there, two cruise ships docked either side of the jetty at about the same time. Disembarkation was delayed for both ships while they got both ships tied up and all the equipment in place. Buses for the excursions backed up along the jetty. The Infinity handles most of their excursions out of the Theater, and the system is generally smooth and effective. Since all the earlier excursions were delayed, there was a mass of people waiting, and for some unaccountable reason Housekeeping chose that time to close the restrooms for cleaning.
We took the Rainforest Skywalk, Pura Vida Gardens, and Lunch tour. After about an hour's drive, we arrived at the Santa Lucia Hotel for a short bathroom break, and then were driven a few minutes up the road to the beginning of the trail. It took about 1 1/4 hours to complete the walk. It was mainly downhill, fairly strenuous (most of the group were seniors). There are three suspension bridges that you cross, that are probably 50 -100 yards long each. They are quite bouncy and swing a little as everyone goes over them. Nobody in our group had any problems and crossing them was fun. The guides will tell you that there is a 50/50 chance of seeing animals. As the day went on, it became more clear that there is little chance of seeing animals at that time of day, especially in the dry season, The noise of the road and people scare them, also by the time the tours get there it has become too hot. Apparently in the wet season, the noise from the water helps to mask the other noises. However, we had been forewarned by friends so were not overly disappointed. Our guide was excellent at talking about the trees, plants, and vegetation. After the walk, we returned to the hotel where we served with fresh fruit and a drink. Very refreshing and welcome! We then drove to the Pura Vida Restaurant and botanical gardens for a very nice lunch. We spent some time looking around the gardens before being driven back to the ship. The gardens were pleasant, and the view of the bay below was great (although somewhat misty on our visit). Do not expect an organized botanical garden, but rather a small country estate.
This tour gave us a good introduction to Costa Rica. We saw some of the countryside, and our guides were very good at explaining about life in their country. The tour was a pleasant day out. It was not the sort of tour that you come back saying that was amazing, but if you don't set your expectations too high and want something that is not overly strenuous, it can be an interesting one to take. Don't expect excitement.
A short walk thru the botanical garden followed by lunch & a gondola ride thru the rainforest. We were deeply disappointed in the experience. We expected to see animals but saw virtually none. If you're into botny, it's fine. If you're into zoology, not so much. By all reports, the Cloud Forest was much better.
Another private, independent trip! this time with Berny Sanchez, a Costa Rican native who had amazing knowledge of the area and what we could find. We first went to Carara National Park where we spent 5 glorious hours on a leisurely stroll on the Meandrica Lagoon Trail. An excellent time, saw so much and Berny was awesome!!! After Carara, we ventured to Playa Hermosa (South of Jaco Beach) where we encountered more beauty and spectacular birding. Berny then treated us to a Late Lunch where we saw many buses from the Cruise Ships. We returned to port in plenty of time to catch our ship. This was undoubtedly one of the best experiences (tours) I have ever had in my life. Berny was absolutely fantastic.
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