Off Season Jun­gle

Frequent Flyer Destinations - - CONTENTS - BY STEPHEN CHRISANTHUS

You wake up in the morn­ing and are al­ready over the day you haven’t even had yet. You think about the places you’ll go, the things you’ll do, the peo­ple you’ll see, and none of it sounds fresh. You just want to crawl back un­der the cov­ers and dream of un­fa­mil­iar lands. When you need a change of ev­ery­thing fa­mil­iar, head to the jun­gle! I’m not say­ing leave it all be­hind and go Tarzan. I’m say­ing a short ex­otic ex­cur­sion to com­pletely for­eign sur­round­ings to re­set your mind­set, a lit­tle break from the rou­tine…with some mon­keys and water­falls in it.

Manuel An­to­nio, Costa Rica is an amaz­ing jun­gle get­away you can do in the off-season in­ex­pen­sively, for just as much fun as the in­sea­son. It’s al­ways a lit­tle rainy all year any­way so why not save on air­fare, ho­tels, food, and ac­tiv­i­ties by go­ing around Oc­to­ber. The rain comes in short waves and the sun comes back out. Get big dis­counts for just a few more show­ers. I prom­ise get­ting a lit­tle wet won’t

ruin your time at all. It’s the jun­gle, it’s al­ways a lit­tle damp, but sloths hang out year-round!

Just a few hours by car or bus or a 20-minute plane ride from San Jose lays Manuel An­to­nio. Easy to get to, but se­cluded from the world, this jun­gle gem is the per­fect es­cape for wilder­ness and an­i­mal life far from the mak­ings of man. The city is a trop­i­cal par­adise of out­door adventure, restau­rants, beaches, and cul­ture.

But just be­cause you’re on the out­skirts of na­ture doesn’t mean you have to live like an an­i­mal. How do you feel about 5 stars in the jun­gle? That’s what you get at the Gaia Ho­tel & Re­serve. This amaz­ing prop­erty perched atop a hill has all the lux­u­ries of a top re­sort in Paris with the pri­vacy of a re­mote bed and break­fast. You’re more likely to be dis­turbed by the sounds of a tou­can than a noisy neigh­bor, and more likely to catch the stare or chat­ter of a cute lo­cal mon­key than a nosey nui­sance. Their La Luna res­tau­rant is one of the very best in town and the views are breath­tak­ing. The in­cluded à la carte break­fast is also ex­cel­lent.

After a long day of hik­ing or surf­ing take a visit to their first class spa for one of their re­ju­ve­nat­ing mas­sages. While most spas have to play re­lax­ing na­ture sound­tracks, you can fade into bliss to the real-life sounds of the na­ture re­serve just out­side. The suites are also im­pres­sive. Of­fer­ing var­i­ous sizes and lay­outs, all are spa­cious and in­clude high-end ameni­ties. You could spend a whole day just or­der­ing room ser­vice and sit­ting on the bal­cony tak­ing in the over­whelm­ing views. When it comes to ser­vice, long time owner Boris Marchegiani de­liv­ers, with an at­ten­tive and en­joy­able staff. They re­ally make you feel like you are stay­ing with them at their ex­clu­sive, trop­i­cal par­adise home. Quick to take you to the res­tau­rant by golf cart or get you ex­tra pil­lows, they at­tend to your ev­ery need, and by the time you leave will feel like new friends. All this for a frac­tion of the price it would run you dur­ing their busy season.

If you’re able to tear your­self away from the re­sort for some out­door ac­tiv­i­ties there are two I def­i­nitely rec­om­mend. No bet­ter way to get an over­view of your jun­gle won­der­land than from the very top. Soar through the tree­tops on the El

San­tu­ario Canopy Adventure. This ex­hil­a­rat­ing zip line tour takes you over the jun­gle through a va­ri­ety of zip lines, cul­mi­nat­ing in the long­est zip line in Cen­tral Amer­ica and the 4th long­est in the world. It even of­fers duel lines so you can race your friends. The views are amaz­ing and the ex­pe­ri­ence is one not to be missed. Their sys­tem is very safe and the guides are ex­tremely help­ful so book this one, with a sea­sonal dis­count, for sure.

If you re­ally want to see what lies out there be­low the canopies take the Rain­maker Tour from Jade Tours. This hik­ing tour takes you up a moun­tain only re­cently ex­plored by man, to see na­ture at its most un­touched. You will make your way up and over jun­gle ter­rain through a se­ries of hang­ing bridges and water­falls as­sisted by a guide. Bath in the falls and take in the sights. The an­i­mals you come across would make a na­tional ge­o­graphic host jeal­ous.

If you de­cide to step out for din­ner in the evening why not head to an­other of the city’s best restau­rants for food and am­biance, the only beach­front Re­sort Res­tau­rant in Manuel An­to­nio, Are­nas Del Mar. As you make your way through the re­sort you weave through wildlife un­til you hit the stun­ning beach and res­tau­rant. The menu is all lo­cal and or­ganic so you get a real taste of Costa Rica. The fresh fish se­lec­tion is fan­tas­tic and they even offer the de­li­cious and often hard to find snook. En­joy the sun­set over the water while en­joy­ing friendly ser­vice and a meal you are sure to re­mem­ber.

With so many des­ti­na­tions of­fer­ing sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences and sights, this is a re­fresh­ing al­ter­na­tive. It’s such a change of scenery for most peo­ple that you re­ally come back feel­ing like you were on va­ca­tion. There is so much to do there for any­one, whether you like to take on the thrill of out­door adventure, or just marvel at it from the bal­cony of your suite. Next time you see “rainy season” don’t shy away, sched­ule off. The lo­cals will be happy to see you and their grat­i­tude will be re­flected in the kind­ness of your wal­let.

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