Ride The Flavour (en)

Costa Rica, the return of beautiful days !

Jan. 24th | 1 comments

Our first day riding on Costa Rican roads is like a first day on vacation. After having crossed the both stratospheric and arid lands of Southern Bolivia, the tropical atmosphere and vegetation of Costa Rica is an infusion of beatitude. Every mile is one more drop added to our drunkenness, our heart beats to the rhythm of joy… And believe us, the pace is fast, our internal music is allegro : the center of Costa Rica is nothing but a huge roller-coaster! The flat does not exist, the slopes call the shots. The peaks and the troughs. Downhills are only short breaks before the slope reverses and brings us to allegrissimo!

We left San Jose, pedaled West for a few km, went past Alajuela… to finally head North, towards our target: the centre of the country. It is then that we entered into the theme park. A sunny road going up and down. A lush flora and fauna. Our eyes no longer know where to look. The wonder is constant. We forget our sweat, dripping in ambient humidity. Our spirit is lost in the surrounding nature. After an absence of several months, fruits are now everywhere. And tasty ones! The first pineapple explodes on our taste buds and avocados melt under our teeth. We breathe life. It is the return of beautiful days!

Our first bivouac, between banana trees and coffee fields!


We arrive at Zarcero the next morning. San Jose is 1150m high. Zarcero is 1700m high. And yet, we climbed over 1600 m between these two cities. Roller-coasters, as we said! Behind Zarcero, the slope reverses and we dive into the clouds… Suddenly we cannot see further than 20m away. The atmosphere is surprising, especially since a few minutes earlier we were sitting under a bright sun, our mouth filled with fruits.

Sucre, we turned right to head towards Juan Castro Blanco national park. What we did not know is that to reach the national park entrance, we would have to climb 900 vertical meters within a 10 km-dirt road. It’s pretty simple: over these 10 km, we pushed our bikes on at least 8 km. We arrived just before dusk. We were told that we would find a restaurant. No restaurant, no dinner. The next day, it was raining. We still went for a walk, but wildlife seemed to have migrated to warmer places. Nevermind, we have tried! We left the greyness covering the park with relief, went back to Sucre and got back on the road heading to la Fortuna.

Fortunately, the downhill was beautiful. You would have thought we were in French Alps, with its farms and green pastures…


On our arrival at the Fortuna, we understand quickly that the region is much more touristic than the one we are coming from. On the road around the Volcano Arenal, tourist complexes follow each other. The main attraction? The hot springs that burst from the depths of the volcano. Moreover, all hotels proudly show their storefront “Spa Thermal Resort”. But what good is to pay a pool when nature offers a torrent?

A torrent of hot water! Ecstasy.

Se baigner dans un torrent d'eau chaude... Extase.

We reach the Lake Arenal right before sunset. It is now time to find a place to sleep… but the road only step aside before the jungle or, sometimes, the upscale hotels. Difficult to find somewhere to camp!


When suddenly a path leading down to the lake reveals itself. At least, we can pitch the tent. We don’t have anything to eat, we will skip dinner, but at least we will be able to sleep. Hey, a RV has already got settled there… A french RV… This is how we meet Claude and Dominique. A few sentences after we introduce ourselves to each other, we quickly, like all good Frenchmen, come to burning “dinner issue”:

“You will eat with us, okay?, they ask us
– The thing is…”

We explain the situation, they do not hesitate even one second and invite us! Once again, chance seems to be so premeditated that we could wonder if we can really call it “chance”… The meal was delicious, and so was the whole evening. Claude and Dominique form a great couple: he was a legionnaire, committing them to a life of reunions and separations, and here they are now, compacted in a  RV for a 18-months-long trip, from Canada to Panama along the West Coast and round trip along the East side. Claude and Dominique, huge thanks to you both!

Nuevo Arenal – Cañas – Nicoya (Armando and Patience, thanks a lot!) -Samara

Well, we truly earned this beach! The 30 km between Nicoya and Samara (on the Costa Rica Pacific Coast) were hard to get rid of. Endless highs and lows, made even more exhausting by an infernal heat… When we finally got our heads under the water, nothing else could have come out of our mouth than a long ‘aaaaaaah’How delighting it is to let your body, and especially your legs, float at the  mercy of the waves, completely relaxed after a week of daily pedaling.

And to extend this euphoric moment, there is no such thing as a cold beer under a grazing light…

Notre première plage au Costa Rica, ça se fête !


When it was time to pitch the tent on the beach, a grey zone was bothering us:

“Actually, how is the tide here?
– Bah, it should not be too large. We would have noticed it this afternoon…”

And finally, 1h after we woke up… Our feet were in in the water and we had to move everything in the dark and precipitation… This time to the highest point of the beach, no way we get caught a 2nd time! 🙂


We then followed the coast up to Tamarindo (little info: Costa Rica roads are generally paved… except along the coast, where they are only dirt roads), a coast which is actually not so nice if you do not surf… The beaches are far from exceptional and the villages you cross along the way are not of the liveliest.

From Tamarindo, we got to Liberia, then La Cruz. It is only between these two cities that the Costa Rican coast has finally amazed us. We found a little piece of paradise: Bahia Junquillal. Splendid, but we couldn’t stay: the only access was through a campsite charging US$16 per person…

But we still were able to negotiate a free swim 😉



In La Cruz, we met a German tourist cyclist, Ulf, with whom we rode our last 20km in Costa Rica… At Peñas Blancas, our passport got stamped: we were out of Costa Rica.

A few minutes later, we were in front of the Nicaraguan immigrition…

To be continued!

1 comment Add a comment

  1. Hola amigos, suerte en el viaje y gracias por venir a Cosra Rica, saludos Henrry y Maria Jose, mi hija, recuerdan ddonde acamparon la primera noche…..

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