When vacationing at the Four Seasons Peninsula de Papagayo in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, there aren’t many excursions within a reasonable driving distance.  If you are really into exploring the Arenal volcano and Monteverde Cloud Forest, you are best off staying in the southern part of Costa Rica (unless you want to spend most of the day on the road.) But never leaving the resort sort of defeats the purpose of coming to such an amazing country.

A day trip that is suitable to the entire extended family is to go to Palo Verde National Park for a boat tour.  Our guides picked us up and we settled in for the one hour drive to the park.  Little did we know how much we were going to learn in the next hour.  Our guides made numerous stops along the road to introduce us to local agriculture and explain the Costa Rican way of life.  

Along the road we stopped to pick some starfruit from the tree.  Even though it wasn’t fully ripe, our guide still cut it up for us to try.  It is now my daughter’s favorite fruit so I need to search out some local Latin markets to find some.  We then went off road to drive through acres of cantaloupe farms and sugarcane fields.  All this education really helped my daughter put together a PowerPoint on Costa Rica to present to her class when we returned.

Fountain at Hacienda El Viejo | Palo Verde National Park Boat Tour

Enjoying the mist from the fountain at Hacienda El Viejo

After a quick stop at the gorgeous Hacienda El Viejo for some tropical juice and fruit, we made our way down to the Tempisque River basin for our Palo Verde National Park boat tour.  As we gently cruised down the river we saw a variety of wildlife including many species of birds.  We later learned that Costa Rica is home to 2,000 species of trees and 9,000 species of flowering plants, as well as 200 types of reptiles (luckily I only saw iguanas since most are snakes which I fear and loathe) and hundreds of mammals, insects, and tropical birds.

Tempisque River in Palo Verde National Park boat tour

Tempisque River in Palo Verde National Park

The capuchin “white-faced” monkeys frolicked in the trees but proved a bit hard to photograph.  Probably the most exciting animal spotting was the many crocodiles we saw gliding through the water or sunning themselves on shore.

During a Palo Verde National Park Boat Tour in Costa Rica you will see crocodiles, monkeys, iguanas, birds and a whole lot more as your cruise down the very peaceful Tempisque River.

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Capuchin monkey on Palo Verde National Park boat tour

Capuchin monkey peeking through the trees

During a Palo Verde National Park Boat Tour in Costa Rica you will see crocodiles, monkeys, iguanas, birds and a whole lot more as your cruise down the very peaceful Tempisque River.

Our river explorer

 

Once we’d gotten our fill of the river, we headed back to Hacienda El Viejo for a delicious local lunch of casado (salad, rice, black beans, plantains and chicken, beef or fish.)  Luckily they also accommodated our picky eaters with chicken fingers and french fries.  I’m still amazing by how many chicken fingers and french fries were consumed by our clan on that trip.  It makes me thankful for my adventurous eater who ate fish or sushi every day (especially when her grandparents were footing the bill!)

After lunch and relaxing at the Hacienda, we were given a demonstration of how sugar cane was milled in olden times using oxen.  Since there were no oxen around my husband helped out…although I think he would have preferred to see the oxen because it was a heavy load! I’m not sure I’d recommend the taste of pure sugar cane water but it was fun to watch.

After saying goodbye to our new friends (the iguanas and our guides), we headed back to the hotel.  After an exciting, but very hot morning, we were ready to relax at the pool for the afternoon.

During a Palo Verde National Park Boat Tour in Costa Rica you will see crocodiles, monkeys, iguanas, birds and a whole lot more as your cruise down the very peaceful Tempisque River.

Stayed tuned for our next adventure, ziplining!

 

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