Days 99-103: Cerro de la Muerte and Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

We said a sad goodbye to Manuel Antonio and prepared for a two day drive across Costa Rica from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea. But first we stopped at a fantastic reptile zoo so Ben could have a glimpse of all the venomous snakes that we (cough, cough, thankfully) didn’t see on our night walk. 


They also had a number of non-native species, including this Komodo dragon, which was also accompanied by a few nervous-looking chickens. Maybe a snack for later? Fridays are feeding days and we arrived Saturday morning so we saw several live prey animals in the cages that hadn’t yet been consumed. When I worked at a zoo, we provided only dead rats to our reptiles (that we had carefully defrosted and rewarmed in hot water)  so seeing mice running around enclosures was startling. 

We haven’t visited many zoos on our trip but this one was nice: clean and roomy enclosures, with excellent signage in both english and spanish. A nice little stop before our long drive. 

And then it was time for Cero de la Muerte, the long trek across Cordillera Central, the main mountain range that runs north to south in Costa Rica. 

Sixteen years ago I absolutely froze while spending three days at a remote trout farm atop these mountains. Our drive this time around was punctuated by misty mountains and torrential downpours.


After braving rivers that had taken over the roads, we set up camp on a hill in the parking lot of a now-defunct restaurant. Not all our campsites are glamorous!

This one was notable for the fact that the owner had a motley collection of dogs: 11 to be exact.

At one point I went ’round to the truck cab to find that one had curled up in Ben’s car seat. She was loathe to leave. 

It was this one: tiny, old, and clearly the queen of them all. Nobody messed with her.

They loved Chris. 🙂 He was less amused by his new-found entourage. 

We finally hit the Caribbean Coast and settled in for some beach time. We did a few ocean excursions, including a nice day at Punta Uva, however we encountered the beginnings of Hurricane Nate (at that time officially ‘tropical depression Nate’) and had some relentless rain showers.


It did clear the beaches, however….


And then it was on to Panama, where we were eagerly looking forward to our long-awaited rendezvous with Chris’ parents. Our first family visit!!! We were so excited, not only because we love them to bits but also because we were sick of each other. 🙂


Dominical Resources (1 hr. south of Manuel Antonio)

(highly recommended)

Parque Reptilandia




Puerto Viejo Resources

(all highly recommended)

Parque Reptilandia 1 hr. south of Manuel Antonio – Pacific Coast

Restaurant: Sol de Caribe

Good kid swimming beach: Playa Punta Uva

Good kid swimming beach: Playa Manzanillo

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