January 2020 - Costa Rica is a magnificent country that appeals to nature lovers! This was my seventh time visiting this little gem. On this private departure, I was part of the Blackhouse Yoga small group exploring the rainforest of Tortuguero on the Caribbean coast with its rich flora and fauna. Followed by a 6 night stay in beautiful Mystica Lodge, a yoga and wellness sanctuary located high above lake Arenal. From here we explored, hiked, enjoyed hot springs, and practiced yoga. The last 2 nights we spent in the highlands surrounded by coffee plantations and a view of Poas Volcano. The final day we enjoyed a chocolate tasting and a chocolate history lesson at a local organic chocolatier, followed by a visit to a rescue operation helping to save local injured or orphaned birds and mammals by either reintroducing them to the wild if possible, or at least providing them a safe home in the company of others of their own species.
December 2019 - Traversing the Panama Canal onboard Windstar's 200 passenger yacht was a fantastic experience, with a Canal specialist onboard providing commentary as we went through the lochs. The excursions along the way were fabulous including visiting the Emberà Indians in Panama, an unforgettable New Year's day swimming and enjoying a BBQ on a deserted island, white water rafting in Costa Rica, and finding hundreds of dolphins in Golfe Dulce. The old city of Panama City, called Casco Viejo, was a surprising delight!
From Panama we took a short flight to Quito, the capital of Ecuador for our next adventure. From here we traveled to Coca in the Amazon basin, 3 hours by motor boat, followed by a 30 minute canoe paddle to reach our Jungle Lodge where we would spend the next 5 days. We were blown away by the pristine environment, the incredible biodiversity, countless colourful birds including great scarlet macaws and toucans, as well as red howler monkeys and squirrel monkeys. The lodge was wonderfully comfortable, and our guide could not have been better.