Above: Horizon pool and view looking north to Lake Nicaragua from ORIGINS, Alajuela, Costa Rica

Serene Ecolodge Escapes in Costa Rica

In January, when I decided to dip a toe back into the water of international travel, Costa Rica seemed an obvious destination. The entry requirements were not onerous ­— I had merely to buy extra insurance to cover any pandemic-related medical bills and accommodation costs in the event of being obliged to quarantine — and the country’s tropical climate and small ecolodges would, I reasoned, make it possible for me to spend most of my time outdoors. Like everywhere else, Costa Rica has been affected by COVID-19, but the vast majority of cases have been recorded in the populous areas of the Central Valley, including the capital city, San José. If I headed for the hills, the jungle and the beach, and took sensible precautions, it seemed that the risks would be manageable.

Scarlet macaw - Photocech / Getty Images
Howler monkey - Tommy Mac / AdobeStock

Evidently I was not the first person to have reached a similar conclusion, as, to my astonishment, the flight from New York to San José was packed. Indeed, there didn’t appear to be a single empty seat. On arrival, two or three other planes had just landed, and the entry hall was crowded. Only the ubiquitous face masks, as well as lines on the floor to demarcate the appropriate social distancing, indicated that we had not returned to prepandemic normality. Eventually, summoned by an officer, I discovered that I had lost the QR code on my cell phone that proved I had fulfilled the COVID-era entry requirements. This being Costa Rica, however, where even the immigration officials are friendly, I was allowed time to search for it, all the while in an agony of embarrassment.

On our previous trip to Costa Rica, in 2018, we had concentrated on areas to the south and east of San José, so this time I constructed an itinerary through the northern half of the country, one that ran along its mountain spine as far as the border with Nicaragua, before taking a sharp left turn into the coastal province of Guanacaste.

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Above: Horizon pool and view looking north to Lake Nicaragua from ORIGINS, Alajuela, Costa Rica

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