Posted by: davepidgeon | February 10, 2009

Committed to Costa Rica

Panama seemed so inviting – fresh, new, untapped by American consumers. According to Budget Travel, Panama is one of the top budget destinations of the 2009:

Panama has led tourism growth in Central and South American countries for two years running, posting back-to-back 20 and 30 percent gains in 2007 and 2008, respectively. Last year, the country surpassed the one-million-visitors mark, welcoming 1.2 million leisure travelers. That’s about how popular Costa Rica was in 1999—before it emerged as a solidly mainstream destination. Compared with Costa Rica, Panama has more animal species and a larger amount of preserved terrain filled with colorful macaws, monkeys, and endangered shore birds.

Do I regret that Alison and I chose Costa Rica for our honeymoon when Panama seems so attractive? No, not really.

For one thing, most of the activities like rafting to the Rio Pacuare Lodge or hiking up Cerro Chato to snag the views of Volcan Arenal don’t in my mind seem like the kind of things that attract Disney-like hordes. We’ve opted for a few  wilderness experiences to take us away from the crowds to discover the natural pura vida Costa Rica is famous for preserving. Besides, as a backpacker and hiker who came of age during the 90s and 00s, I watched as Costa Rica made its way into every adventure magazine, tickling my imagination and strumming my wanderlust. I’ve been waiting for a long time for my turn to go there. 

La Nacion said in an article that Costa Rica attracts about 2 million tourists annually, and so I think: Big whoop. Where I live in Lancaster County, by some estimates this tiny destination in comparison to Costa Rica welcomes 8.5 million per year. So I’m not that worried about the crowds. And Budget Travel deriding it as “mainstream” lumps it in a broad category with the Cancuns and Paris’s of the world, which is a bit unfair.

No regrets here about choosing Costa Rica for our honeymoon. Besides, I hear they have fantastic coffee there, and I could use a strong cup.

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