Hostel Pangea in San Jose, Costa Rica

Hostel Pangea

As the taxi stopped and I looked up at what seemed to be a pile of tin marked “Hostel Pangea” I thought, “Oh, God, what have I got myself into?!”  My opinion changed, however, as soon as I opened the door.  I was immediately welcomed by bright colorful paintings covering every wall and a friendly staff greeting me excitingly.  “Hello, Ms. Pack,” they said, “How are you?  How was your trip?”   A nice, smiling man quickly and efficiently worked to find my reservation, give my keys, and answer any questions I had.  “If you need anything else,”  he said, “please let us know.”

Hostel Pangea

Hostel Pangea

I continued to be impressed of Hostel Pangea as I discovered my room and the rest of the facilities.  The rooms were very secure with key-card access only, and the beds and bath areas were very nice and clean.  Hostel Pangea at first seems small, but it didn’t take me long to find the many rooms and areas including a swimming pool, large bar, and many computers.  Not to mention, they had a great area for charging devices and a theater room as well!

Hostel Pangea

Possibly the best thing about Hostel Pangea is how secure it is.  My first night there, a friend from San Jose stayed with me, so we spent most of the night hanging out at the bar and exploring San Jose.  When we went out, we experienced no problems catching taxis or having taxis take us back.  ALL taxi drivers know about the hostel.  Additionally, when you come into the hostel, you’re immediately greeted by a friendly guard who checks your wrist band to make sure no strangers are coming into the facilities.  The staff takes many precautions to make sure guests feel safe, and the entire time I was there, I never felt that I or my belongings were ever in jeopardy.  Being a single traveler, this is of utmost importance.

Hostel Pangea

Hostel PangeaI highly recommend Hostel Pangea to any traveler making a stop in San Jose.  The staff is great, the accommodations are exceptional, and, very importantly, it’s safe.  Hostel Pangea is definitely worth a night’s stay!

Prices:

Dorm Price – $13 ($1 + $5 for key and locker deposits)

Services:

Lockers for valuables

Free Wi-Fi and computer access

Free Tourist/Local Information Available

Bar/Restaurant- meals for about $6 US (the food is GREAT!)

Airport Shuttle – $11 (shared)

GETTING THERE/GETTING AROUND:

If you’re coming from the TicaBus station, take a taxi.  It should cost about 4,000 Colones ($8 US).

If you’re coming from the Juan Santamaría International Airport, take the TUASSA bus (450 colones or $1 US) and then a taxi (about 3,000 colones or $6 US for taxi to hostel).

If you decide to go out, you have many options available to you.  There are a variety of clubs and bars nearby depending on your taste/style.  No trip should cost you more than 3,000 colones ($6 US) or so.  To get a taxi, just go out to one of the main streets and hail one.  It’s cheaper than calling and super easy.

CONTACT INFO:

http://hostelpangea.com/

ONE LAST NOTE:

I really do have say this about the staff, they are amazing.  Sometimes (as I am sure you avid backpackers know) hostel workers may try to coerce you to get bigger rooms, or take more expensive taxis, or basically just spend more money at their hostel.  At Hostel Pangea, I never felt like the staff was trying to “just make a buck” off of me.  I really felt like that staff genuinely cared about people and they even offered me information on how to save money!  So awesome!

Hostel Pangea

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The Final Superlatives

We’re still working on a big, cleverly and intelligently written sum-up of the whole darn adventure.  It’s hard though!  It is coming soon, but for now enjoy the final edition of our La Aventura Project superlatives!

Days in South and Central America: 217

Dollars Spent: $10,586.14

Average Dollars per day: $70.45

Countries Visited: 10

Books Read: 22 (Carrie), lost track (Zach)

Doctor visits: 1 (Zach), 0 (Carrie)

Things We Lost: More random stuff than we remember

Favorite Food: ceviche (Zach), pupusas (Carrie)

Favorite Beverage: Colombian coffee, Campos de Solana vino tinto from Tarija, Bolivia, and Flor de Caña rum from Nicaragua

Best Wildlife Sighting: dolphins on the cruise from Panamá to Colombia

Nicest People: Colombians and Salvadorans

Most Touristy Countries: Perú and Guatemala

Most American Retirees: Panamá

Scariest/Coolest Experience: the eruption of Tungurahua Volcano

Most Liver Damage: Loki Hostel

Biggest Personal Changes: dreadlocks and eating meat (Carrie), actually speaking a second language (Zach)

Longest Bus Marathon: 3 days almost-straight, Trinidad, Bolivia to Arequipa, Perú

Best Hostel: Hostal Las Olas in Copacabana, Bolivia

Best Place to Open Our Bar Someday: Canoa, Ecuador

Most Sobering Site: civil war museum in Perquín, El Salvador

Most Life-Changing Moment: getting engaged

Sweatiest We’ve Ever Been in Our Lives: Nicaragua

Most Expensive Country/Most Fast Food Places: Costa Rica

Most Breeds of Potatoes: Perú

Best Shopping: Panajachel, Nicaragua

Creepiest Hotel: the Auto Hotel in Sonsonate, El Salvador

Favorite Country in Central America: El Salvador

Favorite Country Overall: Ecuador!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Granada Zipline Tours – Volcan Mombacho, Nicaragua

Granada zipline tours take place on Volcan Mombacho, Nicaragua and can be reserved through almost any tour agency in Granada.  The tour costs $35 per person, including transportation from Granada, 17 platforms, and 11 ziplines!  One awesome part of our tour was that we only had five people in our group, so there wasn’t a lot of waiting on the platforms.  We just kept zip zip zipping!

Granada Zipline Tour - Volcan Mombacho, Nicaragua
Superchico Steve!

After only going on two of them, I’ve decided that canopy tours are one of my favorite things EVER.  Apparently the concept of the “canopy tour” was founded in Costa Rica, thus they are very popular throughout all of Central America.  The first canopy tour Zach and I ever went on was in the Hocking Hills of Ohio.  Pretty fun, but not super scenic, as it was Ohio.  We knew we had to go on another one in Central America, and since Nicaragua had the best prices and Steve would be with us, we decided to do it there!

Granada Zipline Tour - Volcan Mombacho, Nicaragua
Our crew up in the trees!

The ziplines were various lengths but I would classify them all as medium to long for a canopy tour.  There were also a couple tipsy-fun rope bridges between platforms.  I just LOVE flying through the air on ziplines.  I’ve done a lot of single ziplines at camps and stuff, as well as the Hocking Hills Canopy Tour.  Jumping off the platforms and zipping doesn’t even scare me any more.  I actually get more scared on the rope bridges.  But I still get that spectacular “I’m flying!!!!!!” adrenaline rush.

Granada Zipline Tour - Volcan Mombacho, Nicaragua
Braking before I slam into a tree

The BEST thing about this Granada zipline canopy tour was that we got to do tricks!  Not just ordinary ziplining, but tricks, I tell you!  We got to zip like “Superchico/Superchica” (see Steve, top), zip upside-down like monkeys, and Zach and I got to zip together!  But my most favorite of all words-cannot-describe-how-fun-it-was trick was bouncing!  On a few different ziplines the guides would send us off and then the guide at the bottom would hang on the cables and jerk them up and down, making us BOUNCE LIKE CRAZY as we flew down.  I actually bounced so hard that I could feel the mechanism coming off the cable and the thrill of that roller coaster stomach drop feeling.  Seriously, it was SO FUN I was grinning from ear to ear as I flew/bounced down the last zipline.  Out of this world.

Granada Zipline Tour - Volcan Mombacho, Nicaragua
Upside-down monkey zip
Granada Zipline Tour - Volcan Mombacho, Nicaragua
Twisted-up buddy zip

The course on Volcan Mombacho was also beautiful!  Sometimes you can see monkeys up in the trees; we didn’t see any but we heard them growling.  Also, the course runs over an organic coffee plantation, and at the end of the tour you can sample and buy some coffee.  Way to incorporate tourism and sustainable agriculture!  Basically, canopy tours are such an amazing adventure and I would very highly recommend this Granada zipline tour to anyone.

Enjoy this post about Granada Zipline Tours – Volcan Mombacho, Nicaragua?  Check out our archives for other adventures! Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @laaventuraproject and subscribe to our Youtube Channel.

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Panamá Financial Summary

Hola chicos!!!!  I just realized that although I wrote this awhile ago, I never posted it!  Better late than never though!  Here are the stats for Panamá!

Days in Panamá: 10

Money Spent: $286.88

That means we spent $28.66 per day, or roughly $14.33 per person per day.  So we were just barely under our target budget of $15 per person per day.  I’m very proud of us forfinallybeing on budget again after going over in the last few countries.  Rock on!!!!

A side note: I didn’t count our passage on Fritz the Cat here, as I consider that to be between countries and it was so expensive it would totally throw the whole skew off.

As you can see, our spending only fell into a few categories in Panamá.  Despite how small the country is, buses are not cheap in Panamá.  They seem to run about $2+ per hour of travel.

Food is also more expensive than in South America.  The cheapest meal we ever had was a $1.50 plate of rice and beans in Las Tablas.  In Panamá City and Bocas del Toro, you can expect to pay at least $3.50 for a decent plate of Panamanian food.  We did have hostels with kitchens most of the time so we tried to buy groceries and cook a lot to keep costs down.

We didn’t pay for a single place to stay in Panamá!  That’s right, our Lodging cost was absolutely ZERO!  Yeah hostel reviews and Couchsurfing!

FYI, Panamá’s currency is the US dollar, although instead of just calling them “dolares”, they are also called “Balboas.”

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A Fresh Perspective

Today’s been a long day of travel from capital to capital- San José, Costa Rica to Managua, Nicaragua.  But we have an exciting reason for not being in bed yet!  Zach’s old friend Steve is on a plane as we speak, flying in to join us for 10 days in Nicaragua!  Steve has never traveled outside the US or Canada, but he’s always up for adventures so we know it’s going to be a good time.  We’re excited to “show him the ropes” per se, and to have someone else to hang out with!  Mostly, I think it’s going to be really cool to have a friend with us as we near the end of our trip.  I’m hoping that we can show Steve a really amazing time and that traveling with a “newbie” will help us see things through fresh eyes again.  But enough from me, I’ll let Steve introduce himself:

“I’m Steve and I’m and joining Zach and Carrie on part of their journey through Central America. I’m very excited to experience someplace very different from what I’m used too. I’m looking forward to a good culture shock in Nicaragua with new language and lifestyle. My Spanish isn’t the best but I love a challenge and learning/experiencing new things. In all I’m just very excited about the experience I’ll have there, and everything I’ll be able to learn from being in a vastly different culture. Of course, when I tell people about traveling to Nicaragua they all have their comments (good and bad), questions, and concerns. My main concern for the journey is the SUN! So hopefully I don’t get too sunburned, otherwise I know this trip is going to be remarkable journey!”

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Brigitte Cabinas in Cahuita, Costa Rica

Brigitte Cabinas is a quiet and relaxing spot on the shores of the Caribbean in Cahuita, Costa Rica.  With surfing lessons, horseback riding, jungle tours, and other activities, the friendly owner Brigitte will be sure to find something that fits your fancy.  The cabins are colorful and cozy with ocean-life murals and a sea breeze flowing through the windows.  Each room has a fan and mosquito netting.  The speedy WiFi covers the entire grounds.  An on-site restaurant serves a full spread of classic breakfast options along with local favorites.

Restaurant serving breakfast

The beautiful, not-very-crowded Playa Negra is right across the street, and the town center is only a 15-minute walk away.  Nearby restaurants and tour agencies mean you don’t have to wander far for anything.  If you arrive by bus, call and Brigitte will send a free taxi to pick you up at the terminal.  The hotel takes all major credit cards along with US dollars and Costa Rican Colones.

The best part about Brigitte Cabinas are the stables at the back of the facility with a small herd of friendly horses ready to show you around the area.  On offer are a variety of horseback adventures, ranging in duration from an hour to all day.  On horseback is a great way to check out the amazing jungle and nearby beaches.

Services:

WiFi

Laundry

Parking

Tourist information

Restaurant serving breakfast

Book exchange

Library

Horseback riding

Surfboards for rent and surfing lessons

Bicycles for rent

Address:  Playa Negra, 300 m. West from the plaza, 50 m. South

Phone:  (+506) 2755 00 53

Email:  info@brigittecahuita.com

Website:  www.brigittecahuita.com

Prices (without breakfast/with breakfast):

Single room with shared bathroom ($15/$20)

1-person cabin ($35/$40)

2-person cabin ($40/$50)

3-person cabin with kitchen ($50/$60)

This post was sponsored by Brigitte Cabinas.

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It’s a hard life in Bocas del Toro

Greetings from paradise, friends!  Thanks to the high demand for hostel reviews here, we’ve spent the last five days chilling the gorgeous Bocas del Toro islands off the coast of western Panamá.  The chain consists of several islands, some big, some small, with endless opportunities for exploring.

We first hit up Isla Colón, the biggest island in the chain.  Bocas Town, the most hoppin’ place in the islands, is there.  Although super touristy, it had a laid-back California-esque vibe which we really enjoyed.  Although there’s tons of snorkeling and surfing spots around the Isla Colón, we wanted to have a more relaxing visit.  The biggest event was taking the bus to Boca del Drago, an isolated beach on the far side of the island.

Boca del Drago

It was pristine, refreshing, and relaxing, until we decided to save $5 by hiking back to town.  18km in the heat and we were about ready to fall over.  At least we had plenty of water this time!  (As longtime readers may know, we kind of suck at hiking readiness and preparation, despite how much we do it!)  Zach deciding to hoot back at an angry monkey proved that the heat may have been getting to us.  Thankfully, despite their heated argument, Zach stayed on the road and the monkey stayed in the tree.  When we finally made it back to Bocas Town, we were rewarded with $.50-beer happy hour at Mondo Taitu, and ice cream bars from the local supermarket.

The next day we headed to another island, Bastimentos, known for having less gringos and more wildlife.  Unfortunately it rained throughout most of our day here, but we still enjoyed wandering through Old Bank, listening to the unique Guari-Guari language spoken by the Afro-Panamánians here.

Swingin’ from trees like a monkey.

Although touristy, Bocas del Toro is still closer to its roots than similar places in Costa Rica (so we’ve heard).  I don’t think there’s any way that a couple days here wouldn’t be a good decision!

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