“Do you know termites are 70% protein?” asks Rey, our expedition guide. “With water, you could survive for three months just eating termites!” We grimace. Termites don’t sound nearly as tasty as the food on our Safari Voyager expedition ship.
“Did you see me eating termites yesterday in Manuel Antonio National Park? No? Guess I’m gonna eat more termites today!” Rey then jokes.
Rey’s a regular laugh riot – he keeps us constantly entertained. But he’s just one of the knowledgeable and helpful guides on this Costa Rica adventure cruise who lead us on adventure hikes, kayaking forays and wildlife-spotting excursions in Zodiac-style skiffs.
Costa Rica adventure cruise highlights
We first meet our fellow guests and ship crew in San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital city, before boarding the Safari Voyager at the Caldera port on the Pacific coast. We’ll be cruising a seven-night itinerary, ending up in Panama.
Our first full day finds us in Manuel Antonio National Park, where we see a sloth as well as the notorious white-faced capuchin monkeys – notorious because these “mafia monkeys” have mastered the art of steal-and-run (stealing your lunch, your camera lens, your hat, whatever gets their attention).
Snakes are the critters that command our attention elsewhere on the trip.
Costa Rica is home to over 130 species of snakes. Most are harmless, but 22 species are poisonous – some seriously venomous, like the eyelash pit viper and fer de lance.
When we venture out on hikes, we’re constantly cautioned to wear closed-toe walking shoes, stay on the path and watch our step. But it’s a common garter snake that turns out to be the killer.
While hiking the aptly-named “killer trail” through mangroves and dry forest in the Curu National Wildlife Refuge on the Nicoya Peninsula, we come across a large garter snake with its fangs embedded in the legs of a poor bull frog.
We watch, transfixed, as the frog emits pitiful squeals while struggling to escape. “Can’t we do something!” one guest cries out. Unfortunately, no. Rey matter-of-factly explains that snakes are in shorter supply and need more protection than the frogs. And the snake needs to feed…
A tropical holiday isn’t a holiday though if you don’t get to do any swimming. So there are beach stops, too, on this cruise. Underwater, we snorkel with all sorts of colorful sea life; topside, we shake out our towels on sand so white even your RayBans won’t reflect the glare.
About UnCruise Adventures
The Safari Voyager is operated by UnCruise Adventures.
The line’s small ships take 22 to 88 like-minded travelers on uncruises in destinations like Alaska’s Inside Passage, Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, the Hawaiian islands, Galapagos, coastal Washington, British Columbia (where I live), the Columbia and Snake rivers and, of course, Costa Rica and Panama.
Its “Safari” class ships are more luxurious (and expensive) than its “Wilderness” class ships. I’ve tried out both classes on two previous UnCruise Adventures trips – a “Wilderness” class cruise in Alaska, where in one day we hiked 11 miles and kayaked five miles to a remote glacier, plus a “Safari” yacht cruise in Hawaii (highlight: snorkeling with manta rays at night).
Both get you down and dirty, playing outside in the wilderness – but if you’re like me (and like a little extra luxury when it’s available), you’ll probably prefer the “Safari” class cruises.
On our Costa Rica adventure cruise, the “Safari” class extras include waffle robes in the cabins; complimentary anytime cocktails, wine and beer; and a free 30-minute massage.
So now I’ve “uncruised” three different destinations with UnCruise. I’m like many guests – over 50% of fellow passengers on this Costa Rica adventure cruise are repeat UnCruise guests.
I’ve got Galapagos on my mind now… Or maybe the Sea of Cortez… Or, who knows?
What’s appealing to the over-50 luxury traveler?
- You’ll be cruising with your cohort – the average age of UnCruise guests is between 50 and 60.
- Costs are all-inclusive (shore excursions, anytime alcohol, etc.). There comes a time in your life when it’s nice to know what your all-in costs are (and that you won’t be nickle-and-dimed for every cocktail you drink).
- The food is a real treat. Gluten-free, vegetarian and other dietary options are available.
- Different activity levels are offered for the hikes. If you’re keen and fit, go on the “charger” hikes. Feeling like you want to take it easy or have difficulty walking over roots and rocks? Then choose the shorter, more nature-oriented walks, which everyone can do (even those who need canes for support). If you just don’t feel like walking or hiking at all, sign up for a skiff excursion instead.
- Be prepared for tiny cabins (which can feel irritatingly small after a while) – the ship is small so it can get into remote, off-the-beaten-path places accessible to few tourists.
- There’s no really comfortable place to relax outside on deck if you want to take a day off (what’s available is a small area shared with snorkeling gear storage). The expectation is that you’ll spend your days ashore.
- All landings are “wet” landings. You’re taken ashore in a Zodiac-style inflatable boat, where assisted by ship staff, you slide off the boat into knee-deep water then wade ashore. If you don’t want to hike in wet runners or walking shoes, wear flipflips or water shoes to get onto the beach, then change into dry shoes (which you should pack in your backpack) once ashore. (It also means you might have to carry your wet flipflops if the hike ends at a different place than where you started.)
- UnCruise Adventures is the antithesis of big-ship cruising. If you prefer traditional luxury over adventure (and wearing new “cruise” clothes!), these uncruises may not be for you.
IF YOU GO
- Been there, done Costa Rica? Then try one of the brand new “Pure Panama” cruise itineraries running through to October, 2017. Highlights include transiting the Panama Canal, exploring the historic UNESCO-listed Fort San Lorenzo, wildlife viewing in Darien Jungle by motorized dugout canoe and meeting Embera villagers who live in the Panama rainforest.
Be sure to get the whole scoop on Janice’s Costa Rica cruise on Sand In My Suitcase!
*All photo credits ( except where noted): Janice and George Mucalov
The author and her husband were invited to “uncruise” with UnCruise Adventures as media guests.
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