Update: three months on the road


Three months in, only two and a half weeks to go. I’m trying to stop counting, to ignore time in the hope that it’ll go slower – but I know that I’ll be home on the sofa with a cup of tea very soon. Which actually doesn’t sound too bad…

It’s nice not to dread my return to the UK, but I’m determined to appreciate every minute before it’s time to board the final flight back to London. Here’s the rundown of the last month.

Magnific Rock, Playa Santana, Nicaragua © Emma Sparks Captivated by the scary surf at Magnific Rock, Playa Santana © Emma Sparks


After our Little Corn Island let down we jumped straight into the next adventure: Isla de Ometepe. That involved taking a shuttle from Granada to San Jorge, catching a ferry to the island and jumping onto a bus that took two hours to travel 35km (the word ‘road’ is redefined on Ometepe), passing stray dogs, wild horses and huge pigs along the way.

We stayed at Hacienda Mérida, recommended for its stellar sunset views and proximity to Volcán Maderas and San Ramón waterfall. We hiked the volcano – four hours up, four hours down – and were rewarded with views of… clouds. Seems our spate of bad luck hadn’t quite run out.

Next up, we took a taxi to Playa Santana, picked solely for the incredible beach huts I desperately wanted to stay in. Suyo was paradise. Our cabaña was right on an expansive, blissfully people-free beach. The waves were super rough and the sunsets were ridiculously beautiful. I could have stayed here for a month.

Suyo beach huts, Playa Santana, Nicaragua © Emma Sparks Our beautiful beach hut at Suyo, Playa Santana © Emma Sparks

We couldn’t come to Nicaragua and not try surfing. So we nipped south to Playa Maderas for a stint at Rapture Surf Camp, which came complete with infinity pool. My beginner surf lesson, however, did not go as planned… In a rookie move, when entering the water to catch my first wave, I misplaced the board, which got caught in the whitewash, slamming square into my face. Cue epic double nosebleed, headache and a sudden – and understandable – desire to stay on dry land. Two weeks later, my cartilage still isn’t quite right. Fun times.

Infinity pool, Rapture Surf Camp, Playa Maderas, Nicaragua © Emma Sparks The gorgeous pool at Rapture Surf Camp, Playa Maderas © Emma Sparks

Costa Rica

After attending National Geographic’s Travel Geeks session on Costa Rica, Corcovado National Park went straight to the top of my Costa Rica wish list. We booked a pricey two-day hike well in advance via Osa Wild and took an eight-hour bus from San José to reach the kick-off point, Puerto Jiménez. It was all worth it.

A tapier in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica © Emma Sparks A tapier napping on the beach in Corcovado National Park © Emma Sparks

Our group of five, led by the lovely Pablo, saw countless creepy crawlies, frogs galore, tonnes of coatis and easily-startled anteaters, a snoozing tapir and a hard-to-spot sloth.

Palm trees on the beach, Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica © Emma Sparks Three palms on a rocky island, Corcovado National Park © Emma Sparks

After two long days of jungle trekking and two days spent bussing back and forth, it was time to hit the beach again. First up: Montezuma. This tiny beach town is home to Montezuma Yoga, a fantastic open-air studio with twice-daily classes. Local conservation setup ASVO Montezuma release late-hatching turtle eggs whenever a batch of babies is born – and we were lucky enough to witness some flap their way into their watery futures.

A baby turtle on Montezuma beach © Emma Sparks A baby turtle finds its way home © Emma Sparks

Soon it was time to move on to Santa Teresa, a dusty surfer town spread along one long coastal road and home to one of the most beautiful beaches we’ve seen in Costa Rica. Great surfing isn’t hard to come by here, but my landlubber status prevailed. I was more keen on sampling the great yoga at Nautilus, plus lovely food at the likes of Ginger Cafe and Al Chile Viola.

Now we’re in Sámara, another beach town a little further north on the Nicoya Peninsula. It’s no Santa Teresa, and we’re getting a glimpse of the more Americanised Costa Rica. But we’re soon changing gears, heading to La Fortuna and Monteverde for a fun-filled final week of cloud forests, zip-lining and hot springs. Then we’re on to Miami and Jamaica for the big finale!


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