Lost in Costa Rica: Getting There

Air, Costa Rica, Dispatches from the Road, Group Travel, Photography & Video, Planning — By on August 31, 2009 at 5:00 am
By Amanda Pressner, LG Executive Editor
Last month, I traveled to Costa Rica for an extended getaway with my boyfriend Jeff before he left for law school. We decided to combine our adventure with a long-overdue Pressner family vacation-and I recently wrote about that experience for our good friends at Jaunted.com. This week, I’ll be sharing those adventures on Lost Girls World-read on, or visit Jaunted for the full series!
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Nature Air PilotsLost in Costa Rica: Getting There
My sister and I are notoriously belated when it comes to sending birthday gifts and cards, so it probably came as no surprise to our Dad when we finally made good on the 65th B-day gift we promised him-a full five months after his 66th! For the man who already has everything, Jenn and I decided, along with our step-mom Nadine, to take dear old Dad on a fantastic family vacation. And not just the four of us-Jenn and I would be bringing along our boyfriends, too.
Because I have the most stamps in my passport, the fam decide that it automatically fell to me to decide where six adults of varying ages, activity levels and budgetary restraints should go to get away from it all-and to plan out the full details of our group adventure. Ideas were tossed out: Caribbean cruise? (Too hot in July) European sightseeing tour? (the $1,000 round trip ticket-a big turn off). In end, we all agreed on Costa Rica, a country where non of us had traveled, but by most accounts, was the adult version of Disney World. Orlando may be the happiest place on earth for kids, but according to CNN, it’s the happiest place on earth for adults.

A huge bonus of flying to Central America in summer-flights are insanely cheap. My guy Jeff and I paid under $400 round trip from New York City to San Jose, and Dad and his wife paid a similar amount from Tampa (Jen and her guy Trent used frequent fliers). If you’re a living in Denver, you can fly non-stop between the mile high city on Frontier for a song-just look for deals on their website.

While the flights down on Continental were smooth and uneventful, our intra-country flights on Costa Rica’s Nature Air were anything but-in the best possible way. The world’s first carbon neutral airline uses 19-seat Twin Otter Vistaliners to cart passengers to 17 destinations within the country.

Because they don’t fly at 35,000 feet like the big birds do (and therefore don’t need to be pressured), the planes have been constructed with massive picture windows. That’s so super-excited tourists like me can press their noses against the glass and feel like they’re actually soaring directly above the dense tropical jungles, snowcapped peaks of the Cordillera range and pounding waves of the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea.

We took our inaugural Nature Air flight after discovering that we could spend 10 hours in an unairconditioned bus between San Jose and the frontier town of Puerto Jimenez, or just $55 for a one-hour flight. Even with $20 in taxes added on, we all decided that the it was worth extra cash to save time-and our backs.

Most Nature Air flights leave out of San Jose’s regional airport in Pavas (annoyingly, you almost always have to connect through the capital city, no matter which intra-country destination you’re flying from and to) but it’s a clean, well-equipped facility and you don’t have to go through massive security lines like the big international airport.

Interestingly enough, on the day that we flew, the security folks appeared only to be checking the men’s bags, and left the women’s stuff alone. Maybe they switch every other day?

While its initially a tad disconcerting for nervous fliers to go up in the air in a tiny plane (you can actually see your pilots flying the craft through the open cockpit), the ride is actually pretty smooth and you’ll forget your fears as soon as you catch a glimpse of the scenery below you. I know I did.

Here’s a video of our landing on the tiny airstrip in the jungle-an experience that I won’t soon forget.

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To read the full “Lost in Costa Rica” series, visit my page at Jaunted.com.
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