Sendero Group Travel Blog

Follow Sendero travelers on their adventures using accessible GPS.

Monday, June 24, 2013


Costa Rica Wrap up

I first went to Costa Rica in December 2004. Gena had also been there on her own trip. We came this time with her two kids and stayed in two places, both on the Caribbean side. The first accommodations were very unique near Puerto Viejo, where we had never been before. Being able to touch monkeys and Sloths was very special as were the zip lines.

Mike, Gena and kids on a boat to TortugueroIt was a 5 hour or so trip by car and boat to our second stop in Tortuguero at the Pachira Lodge, where I had stayed 8 years ago. They now have an adjacent property with bungalows called Aninga. Across the river is the Evergreen Lodge.

Activities here have included nature hiking, going on a guided group boat ride through the National Forest to see all sorts of animals up close, swimming in the hotel pool, (the river isn't safe because of the Crocodiles), shopping in the village, massage, more zip lines and eating 3 meals a day included with our room.

The rain storms here are very impressive. It pores so loudly that you cannot hear a person speaking 3 feet away. The thunder rattles you to the bone. The Howler monkeys (audio file) don't like the rain so they start hollering. This tends to take place from about 4 to 7 in the morning.

Mike and Gena at a Pachira barThe Pachira rooms are screened but no glass making sure you can hear the entire symphony of animals around the clock. Amazing how many things are making sounds at night, frogs that sound like birds and the occasional boat engine. Mike recorded an audio file of the sounds at breakfast.

The other guests sound to be mostly Americans so it sometimes feels more like you are in Hawaii than Central America. The food is decent and copious. The staff are very helpful, many speak English and they don't seem to mind those of us who wish to practice our broken Spanish. There seem to be more groups here than couples or families. They consider this the low season.

As you would expect in the rain forest and tropics, it is humid with lots of bugs. The kids complain about this a lot but they have enjoyed most of the activities, especially the animals and the zip lines. They are too used to air conditioned American hotels so these rustic accommodations have been rough on them.

One of the things about Costa Rica is once you arrive in the capital from overseas, most anywhere you want to go is a 3 to 6 hour production. There is air service to some places but boats, vans and buses are the main way of travel. We hired a guide in Puerto Viejo, which really helped. She and her husband even cooked dinner for us one night. A particular thanks to Zaida and David of the IPED Spanish school for arranging this trip and looking after us. With kids involved, I am very happy we had their guidance and help.  It is one thing to wing it as a couple and another to do it with kids.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


more about use of user points in Costa Rica

I must publicly thank Rich Irwin for the many points he recorded along the rivers and channels to Tortuguero, where we are now staying. From what I can tell, he recorded points in April 2007 and I recorded points in December 2004. With no maps, these points are precious. Our friend once called them GPS foot prints. I like that term.

One of Rich's points was, 7 meter boat with HP engine or something like that. Another was 3 meter crocodile. I wasn't sure what category to update that too.

I did record a replay on my accessible GPS for part of the trip so you can hear these points, our speed up to about 43 KPH and even altitude as we rose from sea level inland. The others in our boat enjoyed hearing my blurts of information as well. I of course recorded many new points and an audio file of the boat ride as well as posting the GPS replay.



Zip Lining Adventures in Costa Rica

Every zip line place is slightly different. As it turns out, I probably could have taken the OnHand. We got lucky and it didn't start raining until the last ride. We went on 21 zip lines. The guides were fantastic, no issues about having two blind people. In fact, I think they had almost as much fun as we did.

The Terraventuras zip lines are now marked and I highly recommend them.
Maybe someone can do replay files. I'd love to know just how fast we got going. We were often as much as 200 feet above the ground and they said we were going up to 40 miles per hour.

Monday, June 17, 2013


the beauty of sharing user points of interest

As we drove from the San Jose Costa Rica airport to Puerto Viejo on the East coast Caribbean side of the country, I had to rely upon user points since I did not have maps for Costa Rica. I recorded several points on a previous trip several years ago, many along the same highway. Wonderfully, Rich Irwin recorded points in April 2007, something I could tell from the details of the user points. I learned of an aerial tram half way along our trip, which we hope to check out on the trip home.

As our driver told us about towns and sites along the 4 hour drive, I could chime in with my own information. For example, he told us about a national forest we went through and I could add that they had some amazing waterfalls and the forest was 34 kilometers across, something recorded in my user points.

The coolest thing so far was being able to touch Sloths and Monkeys in a rescue center today. One of the monkeys climbed my cane and then perched on my shoulder. From there, he leaped to the branches overhead.

It is now marked in the user database as the Jaguar Center but there aren't any Jaguars there right now.

We are staying at the Tree House lodge, somewhat of a mobility challenge.  Hear Mike's Tree House Lodge audio file.
For those of you on my Foursquare list, you saw me check in there and it is also in the Sendero user list now.

Anyone wanting to come to Costa Rica, I highly recommend Puerto Viejo, the Tree House and the Jaguar Center.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013


traveling in non map countries

I will be in Costa Rica next week. It has been fun using Sendero GPS to put myself virtually at points I recorded several years ago in order to remind myself of where certain things are located. I also updated the categories.

This reminds me, Mr. RFI, the Acapulco Mexico points you recorded need their categories updated.

I even have points marked where we saw a sloth and crocodiles. I am reminded of the lodge rooms too because I had them marked at the Pichira Lodge in Tortuguero.

This time, I'll be using the Braille Sense OnHand. I am bringing a good plastic bag to seal it in when we are in the boats. They have been known to flip over. Sure will be nice one day when we have maps for Costa Rica.



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