As long as we can remember we’ve always had a strong desire to travel the world. Esther grew up in a family that loves to travel. They took her to South America and South Africa and she studied half a year in Romania. Her biggest dream was to travel the world one day.
In 2012 Kay made a world trip for 12 months and went to amazing countries like Bolivia, Indonesia and New Zealand. Ever since he returned he knew he wanted to make another world trip. That’s why we decided to quit our office jobs in april 2018. We started our own digital marketing agency to be able to travel the world full time.
We were initially planning to start our adventure in Asia, but since we both already visited there we weren’t too excited about a return trip. After doing some research online we changed our plans and decided to go to Central America. It was the combination of a rich history (Maya culture), a great diversity in landscapes (tropical beaches, jungle, active volcanoes) and an abundance of wildlife that were really appealing to us.
Going with the Flow in the land of “Pura Vida”
We spent nearly 3 weeks in the land of “Pura Vida” Costa Rica. Our first destination, after San Jose where we picked up our rental car, was Puerto Viejo. We fell in love with this little reggae hippie town and decided to stay for a couple of days. From there we made a day trip to the beautiful Cahuita National Park.
If you love tropical, caribbean beaches then a visit to Cahuita National Park is an absolute must! This park is free of entrance (for pretty much every National Park in Costa Rica you’ll have to pay an entrance fee) and less crowded than other famous parks like Manuel Antonio.
A hike from one side of the park to the other side will lead you through a jungle where you can spot sloths and monkeys. And don’t forget to bring your swimming gear because the beaches here are out of this world and the temperature of the water is perfect for swimming.
Our trip continued as we visited the outdoor-mecca La Fortuna and then onto Monteverde. Next, we went to the west coast and visited Manuel Antonio National Park. Our final stop was Uvita before we headed back to San Jose from where we flew to Guatemala City.
Costa Rica has two coasts and with that, also two cultures. The east coast, especially around Limon, is English-speaking influenced by Jamaican African-Caribbean culture. At the other side, on the Pacific Ocean and Central Highlands, the Costa Ricans share a Latin culture.
In general, people are very friendly, helpful, and laid back. This is something we loved about Costa Rica. But if you’re used to punctuality you might need some time to adjust. Our advice: don’t stress and go with the flow. You’re going to love it!
If we had to choose our favourite moment in Costa Rica it would have to be our visit to the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary. We took a tour here to learn more about Costa Rica’s amazing wildlife. This inspiring non-profit organisation nurtures distressed animals back to health and tries to reintroduce them back into the wild.
Before we even entered the area with the enclosures of the 75 animals they treat, our guide spotted a toucan in the trees. And then he figured out there was also a sloth with a baby in the tree just 2 meters in front of us. They were moving incredibly slowly from branch to branch. Seeing the mother and her baby so close was such a special moment.
We highly recommend visiting a sanctuary when you’re in Costa Rica as you can learn a lot about their precious wildlife. Another place you simply can’t miss out on is the Rio Celeste Waterfall in Tenorio Volcano National Park. This waterfall has an incredible magical blue color that can’t be see anywhere else in the world!
Experiencing the Geological Treasures of Guatemala in Central America
After 3 fabulous weeks spent in Costa Rica it was time to fly to Guatemala. One of the first things we noticed about Guatemala was that the culture here was influenced by the indigenous Mayans and the Spanish. The Mayans primarily live in rural villages wheres as the wealthy Spanish tend to live in the cities.
As soon as we landed in Guatemala City we went straight onto the lovely city of Antigua. We fell in love with this city as the two cultures really blended here. The old colonial buildings, churches, and houses are influenced by the Spanish and are absolutely beautiful. But it’s the colorful Mayans dominating the streets that make this city so special.
From Antigua we took a bus to Lake Atitlan where we spent a couple of nights. Lake Atitlan is considered to be one of the most beautiful places in Guatemala and we completely agree! This stunning lake is surrounded by green hills, impressive volcanoes and quaint villages.
Each village has a unique vibe because of the different Maya tribes living there. The sunsets at Lake Atitlan are also out of this world! Most of the travellers we met ended up staying longer at Lake Atitlan because of the beautiful surroundings and wonderful atmosphere.
After Lake Atitlan we went to Semuc Champey famous for its beautiful natural pools in the middle of the jungle. After two nights in Semuc Champey we travelled to Flores and enjoyed a day trip to the ancient Mayan city Tikal, before venturing out to the hidden gem of Guatemala El Paredon.
Only a 2.5 hour bus ride from Antigua, El Paredon is the perfect place to relax on the long stretched black-sand beach and surf a wave or two. Lessons are quite cheap here! But there’s more to do: there are stunning sunrises and sunsets to watch and you can also release baby turtles.
We finished our trip by climbing the active Acatenango Volcano, by far our number 1 recommendation in all of Guatemala! It’s a tough hike, but you’ll probably never get closer to an active volcano in your life. Plus you’ll get rewarded with amazing views, especially during sunrise.
Words cannot describe experiencing a volcano eruption. The sound when it erupts and the massive ash clouds rising afterwards — you’ll have to experience it yourself! At night it’s even more spectacular when you’ll see the lava spitting and flowing down the volcano.
Travelling through Costa Rica and Guatemala totally exceeded our expectations. We fell in love with their unique history and culture, the incredible geological treasures, and of course the friendly laid-back locals that we had the pleasure of meeting along the way.
After Guatemala we had a brief stay in Hawaii before we arrived in New Zealand where we are currently travelling in our self-built campervan. Since the start of this amazing world trip we have learnt so much about ourselves and developed skills which we never thought were possible. We’re addicted to the adventure; no two days are the same!