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Ben in San Jose
Ben in San Jose
In the jungle

Costa Rica part two

Thursday, July 7, 2005

Last week we left Ben in San Carlos, a tourist paradise. For those who enjoy lush, tropical landscapes and marvellous beaches, rainforests full of tropical wildlife and friendly people, this little Central American country has it all.

Ben had some time to kill before he delivered a lecture on the art of television at the University of Costa Rica, so he hopped on a bus and headed to the capital, San José.

It's the largest city in Costa Rica, right in the middle of the country on a mountain plateau. Until 1824 it was a small village, but that changed when the first elected head of state of Costa Rica moved the government seat to San José. It grew rapidly and now has a population of 1.5 million.

The busy city has several places of interest. The National Museum is a castle-like structure which was once a fortress housing soldiers during the 1948 civil war. It has displays from pre-Columbian times to the present day, gold jewellery and figurines, a 2500-year-old jade carving and plenty of bullet holes in its turrets.

La Sabana Park, once San José's international airport, is the city's centre for sports and recreation. It has jogging trails, soccer fields and tennis courts, with everything free to the public.

Built in 1890 with a strong Parisian influence, the National Theatre is San José's most beautiful building. The showpiece is beautifully decorated, has elegant balconies, luxurious furniture and marble columns.

While wandering around enjoying the sights of San José, there are many places to buy a cup of their famous coffee. Visitors should be aware that while most locals are welcoming and friendly, crime is rife, so, as in most large and busy cities, be careful.

After spending some time in the city's Central Park and enjoying the company of locals, Ben rode four hours to Caño Blanco near the east coast, where Costa Rica's legendary canal country begins.

The tiny village of Turtuguero (region of turtles) is home to just 600 people. Ben went fishing with one of them. Emilio Williams was born here and the canals are his backyard. Apart from good fishing, they encountered much wildlife, including some very large caymen, closely related to the alligator, and the magnificent aninga, a fish-eater related to the cormorant family.

More next week.


Costa Rica is in Central America.


Tucan Travel has nine-day Nature Trails Adventure Tours from San José, including twin-share accommodation, transport, tour leader and entry fees for $840 per person.

Flight Centre has return economy airfares to San José on sale until December 9, 2005 and valid for travel between November 1 and December 9, 2005, dependent on city of departure. Prices, including taxes, start at:
  • Sydney $2315
  • Melbourne $2393
  • Brisbane $2396
  • Adelaide $2571
  • Perth $2751
    To book, call Flight Centre on 131 600.

    Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.

    More information

    Tucan Travel Pty Ltd
    217 Alison Road
    Randwick NSW 2031
    Ph: 1300 135 088, (02) 9326 6633
    Fax: (02) 9326 5993
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