Our Director, Laurenne’s latest adventure in Captivating Costa Rica

Pioneer Expeditions pride themselves on organising unique off the beaten track adventures, often focusing on wildlife and activities. We aim to get under the skin of a country, away from tourists and consistantly search for the unqiue and extraordinary.

Rainforests, beaches, volcanoes, jungles, oceans, adventure activities and spectacular wildlife!

We absolutely love Central America and many of the countries & places we visit here, such as Costa Rica, are perfectly suited to our ideaology. Pioneer Expeditions Director, Laurenne has just returned from her third time in Costa Rica – a country she adores!

Sensational Costa Rica 

Laurenne’s Story

“I have had the pleasure of exploring Costa Rica twice before, and on this occassion, I travelled with my 9 year old son as well as some friends. This was not just a fabulous experience for me personally, but has now allowed me to travel to Costa Rica in different ways. I am writing this on the plane with four very happy ‘clients’!” – Laurenne


Laurenne’s Itinerary 

Costa Rica – May/June 2017

Travelling around this natural paradise, these are just some of the things Laurenne experienced in Costa Rica on her latest expedition! 

Visiting the La Paz Waterfall Gardens which involved walking a trail leading to a spectacular waterfall, situated in the middle of the rainforest. “This place was a little touristy – but a good place to visit if you have kids & it does help rehabilitate some of Costa Rica’s wild animals”

Enjoying something really special and unique with a cultural experience of the Masquerades (one of Costa Rica’s most popular traditions). Time here included a visit to the house and workshop of a local craftsman and designing & creating the masquerades (masks) for the traditional marimba music before a historical walk through the village. Even better, a delicious homemade breakfast was made by the mother and the artisan’s sister . This was an absolutely amazing and surreal experience.  Not for the shy and better for groups of 4 or more.  It takes you into the home of a local craftsman (completely untouristy), his mother and sister.  After learning how they make these unusual creations – some of the local kids are enlisted to dress up in the costumes and dance while the music is playing!  You are very much encouraged to join in – a hilarious experience.  This is finished with the best home cooked (by Mum and Sister) traditional Costa Rican food – which you enjoy along with their family – none of whom speak English.  A really honest and genuinely enjoyable insight into Costa Rican Life.”

Travelling to the less-visited and far less developed Southern Caribbean Coast which presents the laid-back face of the country, as opposed to the country’s pacific coast. Time here was spent exploring some of the coastline’s most picturesque and idyllic beaches. “We spent a day lazing in the ‘pools’ in the Caribbean Sea – this coast is not for the faint-hearted with big rip tides etc.  So you seek shelter in the pools by the shoreline that are protected by rocks. Follow the locals and you can’t go far wrong. We were away from the tourists again and were woken up by howler monkeys in the morning!”

Discovering Cahuita National Park which protects tropical lowland wet forest (rainforest) and has  one of the nicest and least developed beaches in Costa Rica, as well as coral. Time was spent snorkelling amongst the coral reef and a guided walk through the jungle, home to monkeys, sloths, lizards and snakes. “Chauita National Park is a very special place in Costa Rica. However, I would recommend that if you are looking for luxury hotels and excellent service, to opt for Tortuguero or the Pacific Coast. The snorkelling in Costa Rica definitely isn’t one of its big selling points – if you are looking for snorkelling – go to Belize….however we still had a great snorkel and encountered some fish and a nurse shark.  The walk along the national park, by the coast was fabulous – get yourself a good local guide – apart from spotting the usual suspects – Sloths, Howler Monkeys, Leaf Cutting Ants, Agouti, Coati etc – we also saw a couple of Eyelash Vipers – deadly but beautiful. We all loved our time here  and I would definetly go back again!” 

Visiting the Sloth Sanctuary featuring a canoe trip to experience the rainforest from a river perspective.
“The Sloth Sanctuary is a difficult call.  We all loved it (both the boys were already obsessed by sloths) and felt that they did a good job at conservation – from what we could see and there is also an insider tour which previous clients have really enjoyed! That said I have read some not too positive reviews on this charity / business and whether they are doing the right thing for the sloths from some previous workers at the sanctuary; this is a tricky issue and one that we will try and investigate further with the help of Victoria, our new client service manager who has a MSC in primate conservation. Realistically, you will see sloths in the wild, so this will not be an essential element of a Costa Rica itinerary.”
Nicuesa Lodge in Piedras Blancas National Park (formerly part of Corcovado) Located across from the Osa Peninsula (Corcovado National Park) is one of the few eco lodges in this area which allow visitors to explore this environment completely surrounded by nature. With a stunning diversity of flora and fauna, the gorgeous Piedras Blancas National Park is a significant natural reserve and wildlife refuge located in the Puntarenas province. “This was definitely one of our favourite places in Costa Rica. Getting there is half the fun with a light aircraft to Golfito followed by a boat trip (there are no roads to the lodge) accompanied by dolphins!! The lodge is a small eco-lodge -definitely erring on the luxury side and the staff were very friendly.  Beautiful rooms with lovely balconies overlooking the jungle.  Although you can close the doors and windows – these were mostly kept open (being protected instead by your mosquito nets), so you go to sleep and wake up to the sounds of the jungle.  Being a closet arachnaphobe, being close to jungle critters is something you have to get used to if you are going to stay here. Every night I got more confident – ignoring the large black spider in the bathroom or ‘wandering spider’ in the bedroom. It makes for part of the adventure. Our favourite parts here were sea kayaking along the stunning mangroves amongst crocodiles, exploring the forest on foot and even stand-up paddle-boarding.  With a maximum of 20 people staying here in high season (and only 5 others when we were there) combined with communal eating, it was a great experience.”
Hiking in the famous Manuel Antonio National Park. – “This was the one I was least looking forward to as is the MOST popular and visited national park. That said I loved it. We went out of season (highly recommend) and in the afternoon (highly recommend if you want to see fewer people, but morning trip would allow you to see more wildlife).  Highlights of this national park – apart from a stunning and safe swimming beach with just enough swell to make it exciting – is experiencing the wildlife that are completely unfazed by humans.  You can get close to lots of White-headed Capuchin monkeys, racoons and witness Sloths, Coatis etc. My best experiences at this national park have to include our hermit crab races (plenty of hermit crabs to choose from – put them in a circle and see who wins, then put them back to safety where you found them).  Some great excitement and fun.  The most laughs came from watching the racoons stealing from any beach goer who starts to relax and takes their mind off their bags!  In 1 hour we watched about 10 different bags being ransacked by racoons, and even witnessed a racoon/man tug of war as neither seemed willing to give up their haul.  It made for lots of laughs!”












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Extraordinary Sights

Colourful Creatures Getting ready for Masquerades A cultural experience with Traditional music and Masquerades Visiting a cloud-lined Volcano A Sloth Sanctuary Resident Discovering the rainforest on a river trip Flying into Golfito on our light aircraft Heading towards Nicuesa Lodge by boat Our new travelling companions... Dolphins! Iguanas Sloths! ... and the occassional Croc! Beach Day La Paz Waterfall
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