Travel Montezuma, Costa Rica – boho vibes, beach and jungle

Travel Montezuma, Costa Rica – boho vibes, beach and jungle

Montezuma

Costa Rica
Montezuma Itinerary

Remote Costa Rican jungles and beaches

Duration: at least one week

Budget: $ 75 per day

Stay:  Belleh23 or Raggamuffin

Any local Tico (Costa Rican) will tell you that Montezuma, Costa Rica, is a must-visit destination to add to your itinerary. We agree with them! If you’re a person who loves the beach, natural beauty, and artsy towns, you’ll be in heaven here. The moment you step into Montezuma, you’ll see why people love it so much. This place is full of local shops and restaurants that attract visitors from around the world. You’ll find some fantastic waterfalls, beaches, and wildlife here. There is something for everyone in Montezuma.

Relaxation and boho vibes

Montezuma, Costa Rica, began as a small fishing village and is now a favorite among tourists on a budget. It is a bit off-the-beaten (and paved) path, but that’s why we love it. No matter where you go here, you’ll never be too far from the jungle.

  • Sight Seeing 85% 85%
  • Food 75% 75%
  • Culture 80% 80%
  • Activities 95% 95%

However, nature isn’t the only appeal to this small town. Montezuma has a distinct boho vibe, with veggie-friendly eateries, neo-Rastas, yoga classes, and live music to entertain locals and travelers alike. The setting for all of this is alongside the beautiful Pacific Ocean. With all these stunning landscapes surrounding you and exciting activities, you’ll find no shortage of things to do here.

Relax on the beach

Montezuma has countless beaches that attract visitors from around Costa Rica and the world. Playa Montezuma is the most popular beach in the area, just north of the town. It’s a great spot to sunbathe, swim, or take a walk. From Playa Montezuma, you can walk 15-20 minutes to see other beaches, secluded coves, and makeshift rock sculptures (cairns). You’ll even encounter a small waterfall!

Granada, Nicaragua: view of Calle Calzada
Granada, Nicaragua: market

Chase some waterfalls

You may want to ignore TLC’s advice on this one and go chasing waterfalls! There are some breathtaking ones just south of town. One of the most famous waterfalls is the Montezuma
Waterfalls, which include three cascades. Its tallest waterfall is the most easily accessible, but adventurous types can swim and trek to the other two. These waterfalls are a must-see attraction in Montezuma.

Enjoy the ocean at Isla Tortuga (Tortuga Island)

Snorkeling tours to Tortuga Island are one of the most popular activities for Montezuma visitors. Most tour operators include a boat ride to the island, a lunch BBQ, and snorkeling. The island is about an hour away from Montezuma, and the journey is part of the experience. Along the way, you’ll see incredible coastlines, beaches, and possibly some sea creatures!

Granada, Nicaragua: colorful houses
Granada, Nicaragua: dani in front of church

Spend the day hiking at the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve

Just south of Montezuma is the Cabo Blanco, Costa Rica’s first nature reserve, established in 1963. If you’re a hiking enthusiast looking for some exciting trails, this is your spot. Cabo Blanco is the epitome of sustainable travel, with carefully preserved tropical forests and stunning beaches to reward you at the end of your hike. This nature reserve has trails that are suitable for all skill levels.

Hang out in Montezuma

After spending some time in nature, hang out for a bit in town. Montezuma is a fascinating area with plenty of culture and intrigue. It’s not a place where you’ll see a lot of landmarks. Instead, it’s a destination where you can spend time with locals and other international travelers. There are plenty of locally-owned and sustainable shops, restaurants, and bars.

Granada, Nicaragua: Lauri in Parque Colon

Get ready to travel Montezuma

How to get to Montezuma:

The best way to get to Montezuma is to rent a car in San José or catch a bus, then take the Puntarenas Ferry to the Nicoya Peninsula. Something to keep in mind is that the road to Montezuma is not well-paved, so you’ll need to get a four-by-four vehicle. It is possible to drive the entire route to Montezuma, but it’ll add several additional hours to your trip. Driving and taking the ferry will take about 4-5 hours, and a bus ride using the ferry will take about 7 hours

Best time to visit Montezuma:

There is little variation in Montezuma’s temperature. Most of the year has average highs in the 80s and average lows in the 70s. The hottest months are March and April. You’ll encounter the most rain between May and November, so winter is the best time to visit.

Safety in Montezuma:

Costa Rica is generally one of the safest destinations in Central America. Most of the hazards in Montezuma are related to nature. There are few paved areas, so closed-toed shoes are a must for many activities. It’s essential to be careful on trails after rainfall and avoid hiking at night. The most common crime in the area is theft, so ensure that you keep your valuables close, especially on buses. Stay vigilant of your surroundings, and do not leave drinks unattended.

Nightlife and entertainment:

Montezuma may be a small town, but it has a robust nightlife. There are plenty of beach bars during the day that turns into live music venues and dance clubs at night. 

Tap water:

The tap water is by no means suitable to drink. Bring your Lifestraw Pro to avoid plastic pollution and keep your drinks cool.

Biggest challenge for the responsible traveler

Trash: bring your collapsable food container & Lifestraw Pro with you to avoid causing plastic pollution.

tanzania travel Zanzibar beaches

Packing Central America

Central America is super diverse and offers plenty of things to do. Check out our packing list, and get ready for an incredible adventure!

Find everything from eco-friendly toiletries to the only travel shoes you’ll ever want to exciting travel gadgets!

Places to visit in Costa Rica

Follow us to our favorite places in Costa Rica

Kingston, Jamaica – the place to be

Kingston, Jamaica – the place to be

The location of Jamaica’s capital is picturesque, nestled between the blue mountains and the Caribbean sea. While the city itself wouldn’t be considered a beauty by its looks, it is full of vibes, culture, and amazing people. While most travel guides don’t make Kingston sound like the most attractive destination, it will reward those who look and feel behind the obvious and are willing to give it some time.

read more

Costa Rica Off the Beaten Path: Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica

Costa Rica Off the Beaten Path: Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica

OSA PENINSULA

Costa Rica
Osa Peninsula Itinerary

Discover Costa Rica off the beaten path

Duration: at least one week

Budget: $ 130 per day

Stay: Poor Man’s Paradise Lodge or Corcovado Guest House

Most people who visit Costa Rica end up at places like Arenal, Monteverde, and Manuel Antonio. Those places are stunning and absolutely should be visited! However, there’s an off-the-beaten-path that is one of Costa Rica’s best-kept secrets. This destination is the Osa Peninsula. It holds an astounding 2.5% of the WORLD’S biodiversity within its 700 square miles of land, and National Geographic named it the “most biologically intense place on earth.” The area is well-preserved and teeming with natural beauty and wildlife.

Sustainable travel at its finest

The Osa Peninsula is on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast. It takes six hours to get there by car or a short 45-minute propeller plane ride to its tiny regional airport. There are a few small towns on the peninsula, but it is relatively undeveloped. The tour companies, hotels, and locals who live there are highly committed to sustainability, making it a model for eco-travel. The Osa Peninsula is a fantastic travel destination that you can feel good about visiting.

Why is it a secret? The truth is, most people don’t have the time or want to make an effort to visit.
The pristine flora and fauna that make it so unique also make it difficult to reach. If you decide to
make the journey there, you’ll experience one of the most beautiful places in the world without too
many tourists.

Visit Corcovado National Park One

National Park. This nature preserve makes up 1/3 of the Osa Peninsula and is Costa Rica’s crowning jewel. The park is home to an incredible variety of wildlife, including monkeys, sloths, toucans, and iguanas. I was fascinated by the capuchin monkeys that inhabit the park, and I also saw plenty of other animals during my three-day tour. The experience of observing such a wide range of creatures in their natural habitat was truly unforgettable. The park is also outstanding, with lush rainforest and pristine beaches.

Some exciting places to see in the Corcovado National Park:

· La Sirena: a place where you can see bull sharks and alligators
· Leona: the best place to see turtle births
· El Tigre: some of the park’s best viewpoints
· Los Patos: Rincón River, waterfalls, and tall trees

Granada, Nicaragua: market

Stay at an Eco Lodge

The Osa Peninsula is a prime sustainable tourism destination with outstanding eco-lodges. These places seemingly blend into the jungles surrounding them (or have private jungles). One of our favorite places to stay on the peninsula is the Playa Cativo Lodge because it’s an all-inclusive experience perched between the water and wilderness. It’s an outstanding Osa Peninsula eco-lodge that checks all the boxes.

Surf some of Costa Rica's best waves

Local Ticos (Costa Ricans) know that the country’s best surf spots are on the Osa Peninsula. There are consistent breaks that are ideal for surfers of all skill levels. Playa Matapalo, in the Cabo Matapalo, is the best surfing spot in the Osa Peninsula. Some Ticos claim that you can ride up to 1,000 feet on a single wave on a good day!

Granada, Nicaragua: colorful houses
Granada, Nicaragua: dani in front of church

Hang out in Puerto Jimenez

Puerto Jimenez is the starting point for many Osa Peninsula tours, but it is also worth checking out. It is one of the few developed places in the area but still blends seamlessly into nature. There is a fantastic wildlife sanctuary, delicious local restaurants, and intriguing shops there. If you’re looking
for something exciting to do in the evenings, the town has the area’s best nightlife.

Go on a canopy tour

Canopy tours are a popular activity on the Osa Peninsula. You can explore the lush rainforest up close and personal by zooming through the trees. Tours typically have ziplines, suspension bridges, and Tarzan swings that provide unique vantage points. On the ground, tours typically provide local snacks and beverages. Canopy tours use eco-friendly technology that doesn’t disturb the surrounding ecology.

Granada, Nicaragua: Lauri in Parque Colon

Get ready to travel Osa Peninsula

How to get to the Osa Peninsula:

Two main ways to reach the Osa Peninsula from San José are driving and taking a propeller plane. If you’re driving, you’ll want a four-wheel vehicle because there are many dirt roads and streams (with no bridges). The journey can take up to 8 hours, and you should not attempt this in one sitting.
Driving is an excellent option if you plan on visiting other areas, such as Manuel Antonio, Uvita, and Dominical.

The most popular way to get to the peninsula is by plane. Sansa Air is a domestic airline that makes the hour-long trip between San José and Puerto Jimenez.

Best time to visit the Osa Peninsula:

The climate on the Osa Peninsula is tropical, with lots of heat and humidity. The best season to visit is from December to May during the dry season because hurricanes often pass through during the rainy season.

Safety in the Osa Peninsula:

Costa Rica as a country is generally one of the safest places in Latin America. The biggest threat to tourists on the Osa Peninsula is Mother Nature. It is a very humid location, so reef-safe sunscreen and lots of water are essential. As with any destination, it’s critical to be aware of your surroundings
and belongings.

Nightlife and entertainment:

The best nightlife on the Osa Peninsula is in Puerto Jimenez. You’ll find plenty of places that host DJs playing everything from the blues to salsa music.

Tap water

The tap water is by no means suitable to drink. Bring your Lifestraw Pro to avoid plastic pollution and keep your drinks cool.

Biggest challenge for the responsible traveler

Trash: bring your collapsable food container & Lifestraw Pro with you to avoid causing plastic pollution.
Sunscreen: Protect Costa Rica’s marine life and wear reef-save sunscreen.

tanzania travel Zanzibar beaches

Packing Central America

Central America is super diverse and offers plenty of things to do. Check out our packing list, and get ready for an incredible adventure!

Find everything from eco-friendly toiletries to the only travel shoes you’ll ever want to exciting travel gadgets!

Traveling Costa Rica?

Other Central American Destinations

Places to visit in Costa Rica

 

Kingston, Jamaica – the place to be

Kingston, Jamaica – the place to be

The location of Jamaica’s capital is picturesque, nestled between the blue mountains and the Caribbean sea. While the city itself wouldn’t be considered a beauty by its looks, it is full of vibes, culture, and amazing people. While most travel guides don’t make Kingston sound like the most attractive destination, it will reward those who look and feel behind the obvious and are willing to give it some time.

read more

Ecuador’s rainforest – adventure in the Amazon jungle

Ecuador’s rainforest – adventure in the Amazon jungle

Ecuador's rainforests

Ecuador
Ecuador Itinerary

Biodiversity like nowhere else on earth

Duration: at least one week

Ecuador’s rainforests are some of the most biodiverse in the world, and a visit there is unlike any other wildlife experience. Whereas in Africa you might travel by jeep to see animals in the savannah, or by boat to go whale watching, in Ecuador you have to travel on foot or by small boat.

This means that the wildlife is all around you and yet might be difficult to spot. However, this also makes Ecuador’s rainforests a genuinely immersive experience. You can’t help but feel like you’re a part of the ecosystem rather than just an observer. We observed the wild nature with absolute awe, but we also felt a bit uneasy at times. When sleeping, eating, and living in the middle of the jungle, you naturally encounter many wild animals and insects. We hoped the tarantula crawling on the ceiling above our heads had no intention of coming down to us

However, you’ll be rewarded with sightings of everything from monkeys and sloths to exotic birds and reptiles. It’s an unforgettable experience and one that will stay with you long after you’ve left Ecuador.There are two ways to go about your adventure in Ecuador’s rainforest. You can either go on a multiple-day tour to the Cuyabenyo Wildlife Reserve or base yourself in Tena and venture out there

Granada, Nicaragua: market

Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve

Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve is Ecuador’s second largest national park and a mecca for wildlife enthusiasts. “The land between waters,” as looks call it, can only be visited on a guided tour ranging from 3-5 days. Though we are not always the biggest fan of tours, our 4- day journey was one of our biggest travel highlights!

Cuyabeno’s pristine wetland is home to over 500 species of birds, ten different types of monkeys, anacondas, caimans, jaguars, pink river dolphins, manatees, and a variety of fish, including arapaima and piranhas. The sounds, smells, and intensity of the jungle can’t be put into words!

On top of the fantastic wildlife experience, you can also learn about sustainable eco-tourism at local family farms, where they offer tours and teach visitors how to prepare traditional yucca bread made by their neighbors – the SIONA tribe living nearby.

Wildlife in Ecuador's rainforests

Many rainforest animals are still unknown to science, and new species are always being discovered. The forest floor contains insects, spiders, rodents, snakes, and lizards. You’ll find monkeys, sloths, toucans, and macaws in the trees. And there are caiman, piranhas, anacondas, and river dolphins in the rivers.

If you’re lucky, you might even spot a jaguar or an Amazonian tree boa

Leon, Nicaragua: barrio Sutiavia
Granada, Nicaragua: dani in front of church

Visit the SIONA tribe in Cuyabeno

The Siona tribe is one of the many indigenous tribes that live in the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve. The Siona people have lived in the rainforest for centuries, and they have a deep respect for nature.

The Siona tribe is known for its beautiful hand-woven fabrics and baskets, which they sell to tourists. They also offer rainforest tours, where you can learn about plants and animals.

If you visit the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, be sure to take a tour with a member of the Siona tribe! You’ll not only learn so much about this amazing place but also support its inhabitants.

 

Land between waters

The Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve is home to an incredible variety of plant and animal life. But what sets it apart is its water system. The reserve is crisscrossed by a network of rivers, lakes, and creeks teeming with fish, turtles, caiman, and other aquatic creatures. And when the sun goes down, the rivers come alive with hundreds of fireflies flickering in the darkness. It’s truly a magical sight. By the way: the sunsets in Cuaybeno are out of this world beautiful!

Granada, Nicaragua: Lauri in Parque Colon

Get ready to travel Ecuador

How to get to Lago Agrio, Amazonas?

The journey is the destination! And if you plan to visit the Amazon in Ecuador, it’s a long one! First, take a night bus from Quito to Lago Agrio. The journey takes about 8 hours. From there, continue by bus for another 2 hours to El Puente. Finally, around 11 am, a canoe brings you to your lodge, which should take you another two hours.

When is the best time to travel to Ecuador's rainforest?

The Amazon region, the so-called Oriente, is a year-round travel destination. The average temperature is 25 degrees.

The dry season:

The dry season lasts from December to March, the driest months in the jungle. During this time, the Laguna Grande usually dries out entirely, and the Cuyabeno River only carries water in the lower section. To get to Cuyabeno, rain and sufficient water levels are significant. When smaller lagoons dry up, some tributaries are not navigable any longer.

The rainy season:

The rainy season lasts from April to November, with most rain falling during April and May. The rainy season is also the best time to observe wildlife in the Amazon. In addition, high water levels allow you to venture into even the smallest river passages and pass floated areas, enabling you to enter large parts of Ecuador’s rainforest.

Biodiversity in Ecuador's rainforest

Amazonia is not only home to the largest rainforest but also to the most water-rich river in the world! Moreover, 10 percent of all known animal and plant species live in the Amazon jungle. Many of them are endemic to the region. Endemic refers to animals and plants that only live in one particular part of the world.

What is Ayahuasca?

“Ayahuasca” means “plant of spirits” in Quechua. Ayahuasca is a psychedelic tea from the Amazon region which promises a profound spiritual journey.

Indigenous have used Ayahuasca for religious ceremonies. After the” cleaning,” one experiences a feeling of inner peace, a connection with every living being, nature, and the entire universe. Traditionally Ayahuasca is seen as medicine that should bring clarity and peace and make us more attentive.

The Ayahuasca experience:

Friends and acquaintances told us about their sometimes cumbersome experiences. The intoxication lasts up to 8 hours. However, the hallucinations do affect not only the senses but also influence the entire consciousness. You have to vomit or get diarrhea. The indigenous people also call ‘la purga’ because it empties the body through the physical effect and purifies the mind through meaningful psychological experiences.

Tap water in Ecuador

You can not drink tap water in Ecuador. So make sure to bring your Lifestraw Go to enjoy cool water while avoiding having to buy plastic bottles.

Challenges for the conscious traveler

Animal Encounters: Even though it is incredibly tempting to touch and come up close with the wildlife, keep your distance and do not ever touch or feed them!

Sunscreen: Protect the unique ecosystem and be extra careful to use reef-friendly sunscreens.

tanzania travel Zanzibar beaches

Packing List Ecuador

You’re packing your bags for a trip to Ecuador – congratulations! You’re about to embark on an amazing journey into one of the most biodiverse countries in the world.

Wondering what to pack? Check out our packing list to prepare for all Ecuador has to offer. You’ll find anything from clothing to travel gadgets and eco-friendly toiletries!

Ecuador rainforest 1

Ecuador Rainforest Lodges

Yasuní Ecolodge

Yasuní Ecolodge is the only lodge besides the Napo Wildlife Center that can claim to be in Parque Nacional Yasuní, and it’s a much cheaper alternative. The lodge sits within the Kichwa community village on the Río Napo, so staying here allows you to meet community members.

Napo Wildlife Center

The center is owned by the local Kichwa community, and most of its employees are members of the community. The Napo Wildlife Center is unique among other jungle accommodations because visitors arrive not by motorized canoe but by an atmospheric paddle up a blackwater tributary away from the main river, the Río Napo. The eco-friendly project is committed to conservation and sustainable tourism.

 

Traveling Ecuador?

Ecuador Itinerary

Places to visit in Ecuador

Dive into a land of contrasts!

Safari – Do you know the Big 5?

Safari – Do you know the Big 5?

Follow Tanzania's big migration

Safari in Tanzania is an experience like no other. The vast landscape, the incredible wildlife, and the sense of adventure make it an unforgettable trip. We were lucky to visit Tanzania a few years ago, which still ranks among our favorite travel memories.

Tanzania’s Northern Circuit is a great place to start. This region offers several stunning national parks, including Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater, and the famous Serengeti. Tour operators provide many possibilities, ranging from budget camping safaris to luxury lodging safaris. If you’re on a tight budget, consider visiting Tarangire National Park as a day trip from Arusha or Dar es Salaam. If you’re thinking of going on a safari, here are some tips to help make your safari unforgettable.

The Northern Curcuit

Are you planning a safari in Tanzania? You’ll most likely stumble upon Arusha. The mid-sized city is nestled right in the middle of the “Northern Circuit” between several stunning national parks such as Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater, and the famous Serengeti. It is a fantastic starting point for safaris to discover African wildlife.

Tarangire National Park

Tarangire National Park is located 75 miles southwest of Arusha, and it’s easy to get there (a 1,5-hour drive). The relatively small park covers about 2900 sq. Km. But rivals the Serengeti with its diverse landscape. As so often, luck stroke us: we found ourselves on our “private” safari as nobody joined our group. We passed the landmark baobab trees and massive termite mounds until we spotted our first bigger game.

Although it is the least visited park on the Northern Circuit, it teems with wildlife and is an excellent place for those who want to explore beyond game drives. Tarangire is home to 300 herds of elephants and large populations of buffalo, lions, and leopards. Tarangire has the highest concentration of mammals in the country during the dry season. There are also rare antelope such as gerenuk, plus more than 550 species of birds to spot throughout the year. 

The park is named after the Tarangire River, which runs straight through the park. The river is the only source of water during the dry season.

We observed herds of zebras, wildebeests, buffalos, impalas, warthogs, giraffes, and monkeys. Our driver Benjamin explained how the animals protect themselves and their babies from predators. Seeing a family of elephants was our favorite! It’s an incredible feeling to be so close to the gentle giants. The quietness and the magnitude of the elephants are breathtaking. Tarangire National Park was declared a wildlife reserve in 1970, and a massive elephant population recovered. 

Elephant at Tarangire National Park, Tanzania

Visiting Tarangire National Park

Trangire National Park at sunset

Best time to visit Tarangire National Park:

Dry season: The best time to visit is during the dry season, from June to October, when the animals cluster around the Tarangire River.

High season: July and August are the top high season when most tourists visit.

Rainy season: March and April are the wettest months and have fewer visitors. During those months, the vegetation is full and lush, and the sky is supposed to be primarily dramatic at sunrises and sunsets.

Junge Massai Krieger, Tarangire Nationalpark

Tarangire National Park entry fees and costs

For 180$, we went on a day trip to Tarangire National Park with the local provider African Travel Tour in Arusha. Our package included a comfortable safari jeep, lunch, and a guide.

The entry fees for Tarangire National Park are $ 53 incl. The VAT was already included, too.

Tarangire National Park offers some rather expensive lodges on the park’s grounds. However, there’s also a campsite. Therefore, we can only recommend a day trip from Arusha if you are traveling on a budget.

safari 1

Places to stay around Tarangire

Asmorein Hotel

Located a bit of the beaten path Asmorein is a true home away from close to Lake Babati. The views are stunning. 

Baobab Tented Camp

Located right inside Tarangire National park, 10 cute tents are open for visitors. The service is amazing and the feeling to hear wildlife so close by is incredible!

tanzania travel Zanzibar beaches

Ngorongoro Crater

The Ngorongoro Crater is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and probably the most iconic image of Tanzania. The crater is a collapsed volcano and is the largest unbroken caldera in the world.

Ngorongoro Crater is home to an estimated 30,000 animals, including lions, elephants, zebras, and rhinos. The best time to visit the crater is when animals congregate around the shrinking water sources during the dry season.

The Ngorongoro Conservation area is one of the best places for a safari in Tanzania. The world’s largest volcanic caldera provides fertile and rich grassing grounds. It is home to the highest density of big game in Africa. The area is also home to maybe the most well-known tribal culture in Africa, the Masai.

Ngorongoro Conservation area

The excursion to the Ngorongoro Conservation area offers the possibility to get a little insight into the life of the Massai. In bigger family clans, the Massai live together in so-called Bomas, their homes. Several bomas form a group of families, which a headman leads. The number of cows a family owns is a symbol of richness and power and plays a vital role within the community.

Wildlife to see at Ngorongoro

The safari trips through Ngorongoro allow you to see animals in their natural habitat that you would not see elsewhere. In addition, the crater provides suitable conditions for many different animal species, making it possible to encounter rhinos, elephants, hippos, Zebra, Wildebeest, and many more.The breathtaking, almost surreal view comes at a price: park entrance fees are high, and so are the number of tourists.

Visiting Ngorongoro

Safari in Tanzania Ngorogoro: Buffalo in gras

Best time to visit Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro Crater is an all-year-round safari destination as water and pasture within its protecting caldera walls provide for the resident animals.

Dry season: Lasts from June to September. During this time, the grass is lower, making wildlife spotting in the Ngorongoro Crater area easier.

Rainy season: From October till December, short rains make up for lush vegetation and lesser crowds.

In January and February, it’s calving time with thousands of newborn wildebeests. 

It can get a bit chilly at the top of the crater from June to August.

Tanzania Safari 1

Ngorongoro entry fees and costs

Expect to pay a 50 € entrance fee per person and day, plus a charge of 250 for the vehicle. A guide will cost between 40 and 100 € per day.

Camping starts from 30 € per night. Lodges start at 150 € per night. The crater is located 120 km outside of Arusha. If you are up for it, you can visit the National Park on a day trip or a multi-day safari.

Places to stay around Ngorongoro

Maasai giraffe eco lodge

The beautiful lodge is located at the foot of the Ol Donyoi Lengai volcano, next to Engaresero, a small isolated village mainly inhabited by Masaai. Super close to lake Natron. A truly magical place to stay and discover the Ngorongoro area. 

Serengeti Budget Campsite & Safari

The best budget option for staying close to Serengeti! The campsite is located only 9km outside of the park.

 

Serengeti National Park

Tanzania’s world-famous Serengeti National Park is probably best known for the yearly immigration of about one million wildebeests accompanied by hundreds of thousands of zebras and gazelles chasing the rains in a race for life. Seeking water and pasture, the herds are followed by their predators. The migration makes up for incredibly thrilling game drives as they move north. The Serengeti National Park is far from Arusha and is one of the most expensive due to its popularity.

The Serengeti National Park is the oldest and largest national park in Tanzania. ‘Serengeti’ comes from the Maasai language and means’ endless plains.’ The park covers an area of almost 15,000 square kilometers (5800 square miles), of which about 3500 square kilometers (1350 square miles) are covered in grassland. The Serengeti National Park is located north of Tanzania and borders Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve. The park is divided into three regions: the Seronera area in the center, the Western Corridor in the west, and the Northern Serengeti in the north. Each of these regions has its unique landscape and wildlife.

Leon, Nicaragua: barrio Sutiavia

Visiting Serengeti National Park

Serengeti 2

Best time to visit the Serengeti National Park

When visiting the Serengeti, it’s worth planning your trip according to the significant migration.

January- March: During the winter months, the vast grasslands of the Southern Serengeti become home to wildebeests, zebras, and their predators.

June-October: As the migration moves north towards the Grumeti River, be ready to see grazers take on the crocodile-manifested river before reaching Lobo.

November- December: Short rains start. The best game-watching is near Grumeti River.

serengeti 3

Serengeti entry fees, lodges, and costs

Big game watching in the famous Serengeti comes at a price. The entry fee for the Serengeti is $70 per day. Accommodation starts at &200 per night. Of course, you’ll need a vehicle and guide, too. Expect a total of at least $400 per day. The much cheaper option is to stay just outside of Serengeti. Prices for accommodations are much less expensive in the outskirts and go on day trips to the park. You’ll still get to see plenty of wildlife if you are lucky.

Serengeti 4

Places to stay around Serengeti

Africa Safari Maasai Boma Camping

As the name suggests, the accommodation is inspired by a traditional Maasai boma. Look around and you will understand why; you are in their midst. The round mud houses with thatched roofs are simple and solid, yet comfortable.

 

Granada, Nicaragua: dani in front of church

Lake Manyara

Lake Manyara is one of the smaller and more underrated National Parks. It impresses with its beautiful and varied landscape. Ranging from savanna to ever-vast forest, the National Park is home to a significant population of elephants.

The most significant feature of Lake Manyara National park is the Great Rift Valley. The valley runs along the eastern side of Africa and creates some of the continent’s deepest lakes.

Lake Manyara is one of these. However, due to its shallowness, it often dries up completely during the dry season. The lake thereby creates a unique opportunity to see one of the world’s largest concentrations of flamingos as they come to feed on the algae that bloom in the newly created pools.

The park becomes home to millions of flamingos and other birds during the rainy season. Lake Manyara National Park is approximately 2.5 hours from Arusha in the direction of the Serengeti National Park. It makes an excellent introduction to a safari tour. Lake Manyara has one of the highest populations of baboons in all of Africa – so you’re sure to see some interesting furry friends during your visit!

Visiting Lake Manyara Park

Manyara 3

Best time to visit Lake Manyara

You can see Lake Manyara all year round.

Dry season: From June to September.

Rainy season:  Allows for easier wildlife spotting. During the rainy season, the vegetation is green and offers some fantastic views. Bird watching is also best during the rainy season.

Manyara 2

Lake Manyara entry fees, lodges, and costs

The entry fee is $45 per day. So calculate around $180 daily for a group tour and about $25 for tips daily.

Safari lodge

Places to stay around Lake Manyara

Foresight Eco-Lodge

As a guest you can experience wild animals on safari, the bushmen at Lake Eyasi or the happy children in a school. You can come to relax, to experience, or to get involved with helping hands in the society. Foresight Eco Lodge offers a variety of opportunities for open-minded people.

 

Arusha National Park

Tanzania is a country that is world-renowned for its safari trips. The Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Lake Manyara are commonly visited national parks on a Tanzania safari. However, one park is often overlooked: Arusha National Park. Arusha National Park is located only 40 minutes outside the city center, making it an excellent option for a day trip. The park is dominated by the perfect volcanic cone of Mount Meru, and it offers an excellent opportunity to spot black and white Colobus Monkeys. In addition, the park is home to the most significant giraffe population in Tanzania! The park is home to over 700 of these gentle giants! You can often find them roaming around in small groups, munching on leaves from the acacia trees. So if you are looking for a less crowded park with plenty of wildlife to see, don’t overlook Arusha National Park!

How to get to Arusha National Park

Arusha National Park is located about 40 minutes outside of the Arusha city center. Dominated by the perfect volcanic cone of Mount Meru, the park is a beautifully varied topographic area. 

Granada, Nicaragua: Lauri in Parque Colon

Visiting Arusha National Park

Arusha National Park 1

Best time to visit Arusha National Park

Game-watching is pleasant throughout the year.

Dry season: From July-October. It’s easier to see wildlife gathering around waterholes.

Rainy season: From March to May. The park is home to various migratory bird species.

Manyara 2

Arusha National Park entry fees, lodges, and costs

The entry fee is $45 per person per day. You can easily visit Arusha National Park on a day trip. If you decide to stay longer, basic huts start at $30 per day. A guide will cost you around $20 per day. Arusha National Park is one of the few parks that you can explore within a walking safari. Prices start at $200 per day.

Dar Beach 2

Places to stay around Arusha National Park

GREEN GARDEN GUEST HOUSE

Set among the woodland slopes of Mount Meru at the edge of Lake Duluti, there’s no better destination for soaking in the beauty and magnificence of the Tanzanian “Northern Safari Circuit.”

 

Get ready to go on safari

Money

Load up on cash before going on safari. It is common practice to tip drivers and staff. Tips are not included in the safari price. 

Tap water

You can not drink tap water in Tanzania without risking becoming sick. Bring your Lifestraw and enjoy cool drinks while avoiding plastic pollution.

Biggest challenge for the responsible traveler

Trash: To avoid plastic wrapping, choose to buy your food at the bus stations and have them put it in your collapsible container. Bring your Lifestraw to avoid having to buy bottled
water.

tanzania travel Zanzibar beaches

Packing List Safari

 In Tanzania you can come eye to eye big game while safari and see some of the most incredible wildlife on earth. Yet, packing for a safari is quite the challange. Check. out our packing list to come fully prepared for your trip!

You’ll find anything from clothing to travel gadgets and eco-friendly toiletries.

 

Going to Tanzania?

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Places to visit in Tanzania

With its diverse cultures, beautiful nature and rich history Tanzania is a country not to be forgotten.

Galapagos island – an alternate universe

Galapagos island – an alternate universe

Galapagos Islands

ECUADOR
Galapagos Itinerary

Backpacking the Galapagos Islands

Duration: at least one week

Budget: $125 per day

A visit to the Galapagos Islands with its unique inhabitants has long been on our bucket list. The volcanic archipelago is known for its unique wildlife, including sea lions, lizards, and giant tortoises.The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean, about 1000 kilometers from the Ecuadorian mainland. The islands are renowned for their unique and diverse wildlife, which was studied by Charles Darwin during his famous voyage on the Beagle.

Imagine a place where sea lions and lizards are just hanging out in the village like it’s the most normal thing to do. That’s the Galapagos islands for you! We were blown away after our first minutes.

Shortly after purchasing our flights, we were getting a little worried: the Galapagos islands are supposedly one of the most expensive destinations in South America! There was no way we would be able to afford a Galapagos cruise, so we decided to backpack the islands. Although most of the islands are uninhabited and can only be visited by cruise ship, there are three populated islands (San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, and Isabela) where you can backpack and explore on your own. This article will share tips on traveling the Galapagos Islands without a cruise.

San Cristobal- the island of the sea lions

San Christobal mesmerized us within the first minutes of discovering the town. The closer you get to the Malecon, the more sea lions you’ll see! It’s incredible how they seamlessly integrate into the city. You won’t see stray dogs; instead, you’ll spot sea lions casually hanging out on benches, in front of houses, or even in bathrooms. We couldn’t believe our eyes!

San Cristobal offers plenty of things to do, and we could have spent much more time there! Despite the cheaper things to discover on your own, plenty of tour operators offer 360-degree tours, dive excursions, and day trips to nearby islands.

Best places to taste Tanzania’s cuisine

Cavalerio church in Leon, Nicaragua
Granada, Nicaragua: market

San Cristobal | La Galapaguera Tortoise Habitat

It was our first time to see giant turtles and one of the main reasons to visit the Galapagos islands! The hundreds of year-old tortoises are free to roam around the area as they please, so you must keep your eyes open. We were lucky to arrive late (as always) around lunchtime, and it seemed like the tortoises were having lunch, too! We were lucky and saw about 20 giant tortoises as they all came together to one feeding spot! It’s incredible to imagine how old they are, how many things they’ve seen, and how they go on with their lives. We would have loved to interview one of those giants about their life perspectives! The center is also a breeding center, so we also got to see babies and mid-agers (younger than 100 years).

San Cristobal | Playa Puerto Chino

This picturesque beach, located about 30 km from the main settlement, is the perfect spot to relax after visiting the turtle conversation center. However, it’s not easy to get there. You can either go there by bike (it’s challenging), on tour or rent a taxi. Sadly, we couldn’t find any buses. So we took the most accessible and cheapest option. Our taxi driver dropped us off at the turtle conversation center, and we agreed he’d pick us up at Playa Puerto Chino in the late afternoon.

You’ll reach the secluded beach after a walk of about 10 minutes. The bay is home to sea lions, and we had the beach entirely to ourselves when we went. It was terrific to observe sea lions in their natural environment.

Helpful tip: There are no restaurants nor any other facilities. So bring your food and drinks if you are without a tour. We ended up quite hungry. Also, bring bug spray because there are some horse flies around. They’ll only bother you on the way to or from the beach.

Leon, Nicaragua: barrio Sutiavia
Granada, Nicaragua: dani in front of church

San Cristobal |Playa Mann

Our favorite beach on Cristobal! Why? We loved hanging out amongst the many sea lions who made this stretch of beach their home. Also, it’s the only beach we could find offering tasty, affordable, authentic food! It was the first beach we had discovered, and we loved watching the sunset from there. It’s a spot also visited by locals, especially during sunset hours. It was lovely to hang out and make new friends.

Santa Cruz | Turtles and touristic hub

Since we only figured out that it was easy to hop between the islands, our trip to Santa Cruz was spontaneous and unplanned. We were going to skip Santa Cruz for Isabella when a tour operator offered us a 360-degree tour for as little as 30$ each. He told us he had only two Bolivians on that tour and wanted to fill it up. So even though we got to spend very little time on the island, we got a good overview of what it had to offer.

Santa Cruz is, without a doubt, the touristic center of the Islands. The island is conveniently located right between Isla Isabella and San Cristobal. On the one hand, the tour gave us a good overview, but to be honest, we didn’t like running from one site to the other.

Best places to stay in Santa Cruz

Granada, Nicaragua: Lauri in Parque Colon
Granada, Nicaragua: Lauri in Parque Colon

Santa Cruz |El Chato tortoise center

Our favorite thing to do in Santa Cruz was by far the visit to the El Chato, the giant tortoise center! We didn’t spot as many as in San Cristobal, but we could see them from an even shorter distance, and they are even bigger!

Santa Cruz |Las Grietas

On our tour, we also visited Las Grietas, a water tunnel that offers excellent snorkeling. You must hire a water taxi or walk about 20 minutes from the main pier to get there. It gets pretty crowded, though, with many people jumping and taking pictures. The walk there through unique fauna was more our thing.

Granada, Nicaragua: Lauri in Parque Colon
Granada, Nicaragua: Lauri in Parque Colon

Santa Cruz |Tortuga Bay

Tortuga Bay is one of our favorite places in the Galapagos. It’s a beautiful, secluded beach perfect for a relaxing day. It is split into two parts: the angry (brava) beach and the calm (mansa) beach.

How to get to Tortuga Bay

The Tortuga Bay trailhead is located at the end of Charles Binford Avenue, a few blocks behind the main tourist dock area close to Las Ninfas and hotel Fiesta. Just follow the path for about a mile and a half (30-45 minutes from the trailhead) to arrive. The trail is paved, flat, and easy, leading through an old lava field colonized by Palo Santo trees and Opuntia cacti. It is a pleasant walk, accompanied by Darwin’s Finches and Galapagos Mockingbirds flitting between the trees and the melodic tunes of Yellow Warblers. Don’t forget to look to the ground, where red-throated lava lizards scurry around the dry brush habitat. When you arrive at Tortuga Bay, you’ll be greeted by white sand beaches and turquoise waters. It’s truly a paradise!

 You can also reach Tortuga Bay by boat. The journey takes about 20 minutes and costs around US$10 per person. Boat departure times vary, so checking at the dock for information before setting off is advisable.

Galapagos 65

Santa Cruz|Playa Brava

Strong currents & great surf

As you reach the end of the trail arriving at Tortuga Bay, your first sight of white sand will be Playa Brava. The water currents here are powerful and most suitable for surfing. However, this is a strictly no-swimming zone as it can be dangerous.

Galapagos 72

Santa Cruz |Playa Mansa

Calm waters & wildlife

Save your swimming for Mansa Beach, where the water is crystal clear and much calmer. Tortuga Bay is teeming with marine life, such as iguanas, crabs, turtles, and many different types of birds. It truly is a nature lover’s paradise!

Isla Isabella - lizards and surfing

Isla Isabella is the least populated and least developed of the three islands we visited. As soon as we got off the boat, lizards greeted us. Casually hanging out, they weren’t bothered by passengers getting off the ship and walking past them. They look like miniature dinosaurs.

The island consists of one main settlement comprising charming one-story houses. You can find several restaurants and bars along the beach. Isla Isabella felt authentic. It’s one of those places where tourists and locals easily meet and get to know each other. The island is unpretentious and offers plenty of things to do.

Best places to stay on Isla Isabela

    • Chez Manany Galapagos Ecolodge
    • Hostal Galapagos by Bar de Beto
Granada, Nicaragua: Lauri in Parque Colon

Surfing on Isla Isabella

A local friend told us that there is excellent surfing on the island. It’s one of the things tourists and locals love to do on the island. So we rented a surfboard for a day and had a fantastic time. The waves were great, and the water was crystal clear. We even saw some turtles while we were surfing!

Isla Isabela|Hike Sierra Negra and Volcán Chico

Hiking Sierra Negra is one of the best ways to experience the diverse landscapes of the Galapagos Islands. Although you could be forgiven for assuming that Volcán Chico is a volcano in its own right, it is just part of Sierra Negra and is considered to be a parasitic cone. In simple terms, this means it is another way for lava to exit the central volcano. Hiking Volcán Chico and Sierra Negra allow you to see two very different sides of the same coin. While Sierra Negra is primarily bald with very little vegetation, Volcán Chico is covered in lush greenery. The only way to access Volcán Chico and Sierra Negra is via guided tour. Tourists are not allowed to visit the area without a guide, and the Galapagos authorities are very strict about this.

The hike is open all year round, assuming the volcano is not in a period of high activity. During these times, Sierra Negra tours will be postponed until the danger passes. This can take weeks or even months. Hiking Sierra Negra is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see one of the most unique ecosystems on Earth.

Hiking the volcano takes around 5-6 hours from start to finish. Even though the trail’s incline is gradual, the hike can be strenuous for some due to the distance and heat of the equatorial sun. But trust us, the views are worth it! Once you reach the crater’s edge, you’ll be rewarded with an incredible panorama of Isabela Island and a sense of the scale of the eruption that created Sierra Negra. On a clear day, you can even see nearby Fernandina Island.

During periods of high activity, tours will be postponed until it’s safe to visit again.

Isla Isabela|Snorkeling Las Tuneles

Snorkeling Las Tuneles was by far one of our most unforgettable snorkeling trips ever! The boat ride itself already promised adventure. However, since the sea was rough this day, our captain had to undergo some quite thrilling maneuvers till we entered the area of las Tuneles. The collapsed lava tunnels are home to white-tipped sharks, turtles, giant pirate fish, and many other sea creatures. We even saw some seahorses in the wild! It was utterly unique! However, keep in mind that the Pacific is sometimes cold and rough. Also though we were wearing neoprene suits, we were still freezing. On our way back, we saw penguins, manta rays, and dolphins as they accompanied our boat. It was incredible! To top it all off, we even saw giant turtles in a romantic mood.

Get ready to travel ECUADOR

How to backpack Galapagos islands

Backpacking the Galapagos Islands is possible! However, it’s not as easy as other South American destinations or Ecuador’s mainland. This is even truer if you are trying to travel spontaneously without much planning. You can only visit the three inhabited islands without a cruise.

San Cristobal

San Cristobal is also the administrative capital of the archipelago.

Animals on San Cristobal: sea lions, giant turtles

Santa Cruz

The island is not only the touristic hub but also the most lively city in the whole Galapagos archipelago.

Animals on Santa Cruz: sea lions, giant turtles

Isla Isabela

This island almost felt magical to us. Spend some days and sit down and watch the wild biological diversity.

Animals on Isla Isabella: sea lions, Lizards, penguins, manta rays, sharks

Wildlife on the Galapagos Islands

Maybe most importantly: Many species are endemic to one island, which means you’ll only find them in one place or island. Hence you won’t find all the animals you want to see in one place. This makes traveling between the islands necessary.

How to get there and away

Fly into San Cristobal and fly out from Santa Cruz! This will save you time, money, and a full day on a boat. The touristic infrastructure is well developed on the islands, and you’ll find everything but the internet there.

 

How to visit the Galapagos Islands without a cruise?

Traveling between the three inhabited islands is easy. However, a few things to remember: Buy your tickets a day in advance to be sure. Secondly, the boat rides can be pretty rough! Bring sea sickness medicine and a plastic bag, and don’t eat or drink too much before you get on! The price is fixed at $30 per ride and takes about two hours from San Cristobal to Santa Cruz and another two hours from Santa Cruz to Isla Isabella. Lastly, remember that it’s not always possible to travel from San Cristobal to Isabella in one day.

How high are the fees for the Galapagos Islands?

Before arriving at the Galapagos Islands, be prepared to pay $20 for a transit control card and $100 or even $140 if you stay longer than two weeks for National Park Fees. Both fees have to be paid in advance! However, it’s easy to do once you arrive at Quito or Guayaquil airport.

Best time to travel the Galapagos Islands?

The archipelago is located along the equator, yet the climate is not typically tropical. However, in December, the water was too cold to swim.

From January to May: It’s hot with higher rainfalls

June to November: The weather is cooler. Marine life is very active.

Safety on Galapagos islands

You are gravely mistaken if you think of the Galapagos islands as only a natural paradise. On the contrary, the islands are on the cocaine smuggling route. Lately, even US forces have been deployed. Nonetheless, the islands are entirely safe for visitors.

Tap water

You can not drink tap water on the Galapagos islands. So make sure to bring your Lifestraw Go to enjoy cool water while avoiding having to buy plastic bottles.

Challenges for the conscious traveler

Animal Encounters: Even though it is incredibly tempting to touch and come up close with the wildlife, keep your distance and do not ever touch or feed them!

Sunscreen: Protect the unique ecosystem and be extra careful to use reef-friendly sunscreens.

tanzania travel Zanzibar beaches

Packing List Ecuador

You’re packing your bags for a trip to Ecuador – congratulations! You’re about to embark on an amazing journey into one of the most biodiverse countries in the world.

Wondering what to pack? Check out our packing list to prepare for all Ecuador has to offer. You’ll find anything from clothing to travel gadgets and eco-friendly toiletries!

Traveling Ecuador?

Ecuador Itinerary

Places to visit in Ecuador

Dive into a land of contrasts!