I intend to go travelling round Central/South America as a lone, female traveller in December. I will be started off in Costa Rica. I have been travelling before on my own round Asia, Oz and NZ, but have never been to this part of the world before and am feeling a little bit nervous, and am wondering if this trip is still a good idea! So as i've just discovered this website, I thought i'd put a thread up to see if any past/present travellers could offer me any advice or reassurance for my trip! I am still in the early stages of planning - I will be learning Spanish over the Summer, so I can understand a bit of the lingo as I travel round and I was wondering if anyone could give me some info. on planning my route, the best ways to get around, must see places to go, places to avoid as a lone, female travellor, types of accommodation, etc.
If there's any info you could give, it would be much appreciated! I need all the help I can get!
Now, this was a wise decision... I travelled some of Asia and a lot of Australia as well as Costa Rica and have to say that I really liked Costa Rica! In fact, soon I hope to be heading back down South America way because of my trip here over Christmas, New Years of 2002/2003.
I just typed up this information for someone else who had asked me about going to Costa Rica so thought I would pass it on to you as well....
My friends and me were there over Christmas of last year and really loved it. We were there for three weeks and arranged quite a few things in the first days we were there at an agent called Ecole Travel. They were very helpful and have great priced fun tours using local providers which we found very cool and definitely more in the spirit of travelling. These are the main areas we visited (if you want to get a more detailed idea, I kept a diary on this site while we were there which you can read freely if you like-that gives a very good idea I would think);
San Jose (nice but just another city really). Then we went to Tortuguero (where the turtles lay their eggs...although in December there are none) which was great just because it was in the middle of nowhere and we were at a resort with absolutely noone there but us. In the middle of the rainforest and the best thing was getting there which was in a boat over a canal on what was about a 4 hour trip. Very fun and a good guide/boatsman who pointed out wildlife the whole way up. A lot of nature up in this area (north east). After that we went down to the south east, the Caribbean coast, to Puerto Viejo. This was very relaxed and had a definite surf mentality to it. Kind of like Byron Bay in some ways. A lot more going on than in Tortuguero and some nice restaurants and plenty of hostels and accommodation as well. After this we headed back through San Jose to the north center (monteverde, la fortuna). Both were nice but I slightly preferred Monteverde for the atmosphere. La Fortuna the city was nothing special although the volcano erupting and the bars situated in the middle of hot springs were great fun!
After this we headed over to the pacific coast, more specifically to montezuma. This was fantastic and the place we actually had probably the best, most fun time. One main bar that everyone goes to....a lot of backpackers and other travellers, a fairly nice beach with nice waves for body surfing and a very good vibe! After this we headed down south to Rio Sjerpe which again seemed more like the middle of nowhere. Some wonderful nature (we spotted whales among others) and very relaxing. That is the outline of our trip in general. It worked out beautifully for us and we didn't feel we had missed anything although we skipped a couple of really touristy areas due to the Christmas holidays which are quite a busy time when most Costa Ricans actually leave the cities and head there themselves.
Accommodation was quite easy to find everywhere. We had the most trouble with this in San Jose so it is quite a good idea to book a night or two ahead of time just so you know you have somewhere when you arrive. We travelled by public bus the whole time which is really cheap although can get rather stuffy after about 6 hours or so. But you tend to forget the rides I think....just be careful with your luggage and never lose sight of it; but I think that is a global tip! Heard some stories of people having their backpacks stolen from right under them though....always good to be extra alert!
Moneywise, there are no ATM's in Montezuma, besides that most reasonably big travel destinations have one so with a bit of planning you are ok there.
Hmm, will leave it at that for now. If anything good pops into mind, I will be sure to let you know.
Cheers and happy travels!
ps. we did a great rafting tour on the Paguera. There are a few organizations that do this. Includes several very fun rapids and after rafting in Europe and Australia, this one was definitely the most exciting (one of my final diary entries has the full story on this one!)
pps. sorry, can't help you on the lone female traveller perspective
I recently returned from Guatemala and Honduras. I am a budget traveler on about $10/day. I heard lots about safety issues in Honduras, especially the north coast. I tend to shy away from cities and from tourist centers. Perhaps this was the reason I had no problems as a single traveler. If you have an opportunity to visit mountain areas of indigenous people, by all means do so. These people are the salt of the earth. I also visited Garifuna villages on the coast of Honduras. They were relatively safe, but once again the villages that I visited were not in any tourist books.
If you have any specific issues please contact me.
[ Edit: Pls no email addresses for your own privacy... ]
I've been to Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia. All nice places. My favourite would be Bolivia though. I stayed a month in a small place called Tupiza at hotel valle hermosa (www.bolivia.freehosting.net) which was a neat place. I talked with people who came from central america and they all had a good time. You shouldn't worry. Go there and have fun. You'll love it!
Costa Rica is a great place to start your trip. The people are amazingly friendly,
getting around is no problem and the country is beautiful. I have known several girls
that have traveled alone on the Pacific coast and had no problems. Lots of surfers
and ecotourists. Avoid the town of Jaco. If you take the roed from San Jose due west
it's the first town you come to and it's my least favorite place on the coast. There is a
town further south called Dominical with pretty beaches, cool people and a nice
atmosphere. Further south from there is the Ossa Peninsula with a amazing national
park, Parque Nacional Corcovado. Beautiful rain forests on the beach.
To follow up on Jay's post.... yes, the Corcovado NP was amazing. Great to see rainforest right up to the beach. In one day we spotted macaws, pilot whales and monkeys....among others. This area also seemed a lot quieter and less developed than some of the other areas we went to...
Hi, I don´t know if you´re still travelling, but if you are, and you are looking for some advice about Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, just write back, I´m a Salvadorean and I have been travelling like a back packer all around Central America a lot of times.
Hi, I was very interested to read your message as I am planning on heading off on my own to Brazil. Can totally empathize. How are you getting on?