Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Day 11 of Vacation - Cruise Day 8 Costa Rica - Okey Dokey Tours

Here's something a little different for the blog, normally I blog about food but I am making an exception as this was the single most enjoyable part of our entire vacation.  A little bit of history first, during the planning phase of our vacation we were concerned about

1 - Keeping costs under control
2 - Having a fun time

At the recommendations of both the members on the Cruise Critic Board and my colleague at work who had previously taken a tour with Okey Dokey Tours, I fired off an email to Charlie Soto, checking for availability of the B2 Tour.

After some back and forth correspondence we booked the B2 Tour, (all the info is at

Arriving in port it was shaping up to be a beautiful day as the sun was shining and it was not incredibly hot out.  A very nice day in the low/mid 20's with a very reasonable amount of humidity.  After walking out through the gates there was a sign with our name on it and we grouped up with the other 4 members of our group along with Emily our guide before heading off to see the monkeys.

Arriving at the home of a family who has been feeding the local white-headed Capuchin monkeys, the monkeys were acclimated to human contact and would wander down off the tree to take fruit from you.  In no way were they threatening and it was quite the amazing experience. If you held the fruit in the closed palm of your hands they would peel back your fingers to take the fruit! This is the first time we have ever experienced anything like this.

After the monkeys our next stop was to a roadside stand showing how sugar cane juice is produced from the sugar cane.  After everyone got a turn at feeding the machine we were all treated to a cup of our labour !  Pure sugarcane with some ginger and orange, no ice!

We also got to sample some local Papaya as well and it was rather amazing how the fruits and vegetables that are locally grown in Costa Rica differ substantially from the fruits and vegetables that we procure back home at the local mega mart.

The papayas were well over a foot long in length and the oregano, lemon grass, and cilantro all smelt amazing but looked totally different!

Getting sugar cane juice the old fashioned human power way, each person cranks in a different direction.

Following the sugar cane stop we were off to Villa Lapas for our zip line extravaganza. 

There are a total of 8 platforms on this trek, with the shortest being a mere 20 meters and the longest being 800 meters in length.  All the equipment looked to be in top condition and everything was fitted well.  Interestingly enough the most challenging platform was the first as it was a little bit of a leap of faith to walk downhill on a dirt path towards the edge of the cliff.

A shot of the last platform before finishing up, most of the platforms were only single level.

Here's a shot of the walk towards the zip line, as you can see it really is a leap of faith.  Our group had two guides one to push you and one to catch you, there are no weight restrictions on this zip line activity as you go one at a time and the equipment is rated for 5 tons.

As you can see you are a fair distance above the ground (probably about 100ft or so) All in all the zip line portion took about an hour and even with six people there were no major delays.  The time went by fast and zip lining was a blast.

The only hiccup was following the zip line activity the guides called for the park provided van to come and retrieve us, it took about 15 minutes for the van to arrive and some of the seats were wet which the driver explained he had just made a beach pickup.  This is not fault of our tour but nonetheless was interesting.

Also located at the same facility was the butterfly farm, we spent about 40 minutes here as a member of our group was using the computers at the lodge to surf the internet so we were waiting around for them.  The butterflies did not seem the least bit threatened by our presence and I was able to take some really nice photos.

Following the butterfly farm it was time for lunch and we had lunch at a roadside dinner near Jaco, inside it was a buffet style lunch with your choice of rice, vegetable, protein, and salad.  An orange or pink drink were also included.  Although we could not identify the pink or orange drinks the rest of the lunch was very filling and very very tasty! There was a lot of flavours and everything was very fresh!

Lime rice with fillet of sole, and two types of vegetables.

Lime rice with beef fajitas, and macaroni salad.  

Following lunch we drove down through Jaco to go see some wild macaws, talking with some of the folks on our cruise who had done a similar tour they did not see the same wildlife that we had.

Wild macaws about 150ft up in the trees, they are noisy creatures ! We spent about 20 minutes or so walking out to look at and take pictures of the macaws.

Following the macaws we proceeded to a local supermarket to buy some coffee, the highlights of that trip were 3 things

- 3L bottles of pop
- $1US for a six pack of imported beer (from Holland)
- $2US for 400g of Costa Rican coffee, the same coffee we saw selling on the pier by the boat for between $5-$8

The shot above is from another rainforest like reserver we visited (the name escapes me) where we had an opportunity to buy some souvenirs and see more of the beautiful scenery that seems to be all over Costa Rica.

Our last stop of the day before heading back to the ship was at a bridge over the Rio Tarcoles (I think) we were told that National Geographic had done a survey the previous year and counted over 2000 crocodiles living up and down this river way.  It was very packed and there were numerous crocs just chilling even though it was quite late in the afternoon.

Although this road is a busy roadway there were tons of people on both ends gawking at the crocs and a few brave souls who made it close to the river along the sides on the grass/dirt rock face.

All in all it was a fun filled day where we had a ton of fun and learned a lot.  Initially I was quite concerned  as some of the reviews about this tour were quite negative. 

I would like to summarize that although we met Charlie early on in the day at the pier and left without him, he joined up with us several times throughout the day as he hopped between the various tours.  I can fully understand why he couldn't be with any one tour for the whole trip and our guide Emily spoke fluent English and was very knowledgable about what we were seeing and what to look out for.

Without a doubt I would recommend Charlie Soto and Okey Dokey Tours, and will definitely book with them when we return to Costa Rica.

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