We decided to book a private excursion while in Costa Rica. We did a lot of research prior to leaving and found Odyssey Tours through the internet. They have a ton of amazing reviews and only 1 negative one on all of the websites we checked out. I am so glad we went with Odyssey Tours. They were absolutely amazing. More than I could have hoped for in a day. We booked a private tour for just the 2 of us for the day. Our private tour was significantly less than what an excursion on the boat cost. We advised them that we really wanted to see birds and wildlife. We were not really worried about going to the beach or shopping.
As soon as we walked off the cruise dock we found gentleman waiting with an Odyssey Tours sign. They showed us were to wait and our tour guide was there within a few minutes. Our tour guide was one of the brothers that owns Odyssey Tours. He was amazing! He had incredibly knowledge of the area and sites that we saw during the day.
We had a general idea of what we were going to do for the day but really left it up to Odyssey Tours to plan out what we would see when. The first stop we took was in a lovely town not too far from Puntarenas. The town has a gorgeous old church and open market square. The square was filled with tables with craft items and cute souvenirs. One thing that really impressed me was all the shop keepers were wearing matching polo shirts. I did not have to wonder who I was paying. There were a couple of really nice policemen in the area and we felt really comfortable. We had our picture taken with some traditional clothes. We also had the opportunity to watch the local girls perform a traditional dance. They ranged in age from 4 years old to about 14. They were so cute and fun to watch!
Once we left town we headed to the Macaw Sanctuary. This was such a treat. We were able to see how the sanctuary is working to help preserve the Scarlet Macaws and other species. You can see our entire visit over on our Scarlet Macaw Sanctuary Post
As we drove between stops our guide shared with us information on the local area and customs. We learned a lot about the local area and lifestyle. We stopped at a great fruit market along the way. We had the opportunity to try incredibly fresh papaya. This may have been the best papaya I have ever tried. John was excited to pick up really great cashews on site. They were fresh and the bag did not last very long.
Our next stop was lunch and a surprise river cruise. We were so excited to find out we were going on a wildlife river cruise on the river Tarcoles. Lunch was held right near the river cruise dock. Lunch was a traditional Costa Rican lunch. The lunch included rice, beans, meat, salad and juice. John tried the local beer and really enjoyed it. Keep an eye out for the amazing butterflies in the area. We were able to get some amazing photos of butterflies while we were at lunch.
Our next adventure was the river cruise. Oh my goodness this was so much fun. From the get go we saw crocodiles and birds within minutes. There were crocodiles everywhere. We saw so many bird species I was jumping for joy. We saw birds I have only dreamed about seeing in the wild. I must admit I am a total bird nerd so this cruise was perfect for me. The birds were so close we were able to get great photos of them. I still can not believe we watched Roseate Spoonbills, Crested CaraCaras and XXX right next to the boat. We also saw Scarlet Macaws fly over. The guide on the river boat was so knowledgeable about birds and the local area. He was able to identify the birds by site and tell us about them.
One of the guides hopped out of the boat and actually fed the crocodile they call Angelina Jolie. This was certainly not what I expected to see. It was scary and yet crazy to watch him walk barefoot along the beach feeding a 8-10 foot crocodile.
After the river cruise we headed back towards town. We stopped at a really lovely souvenir stand. I was able to pick up vanilla for a great price. I also splurged on a giant lizard that ended up being a bit bigger than I thought it was when we tried to pack it.
We did not have to pay for the tour until we were back at the cruise dock area. We felt so comfortable and safe with Odyssey Tours. I would highly suggest them if you are in the Puntarenas area. They made sure we were back in town in more than enough time to get back on the boat. We had a couple of hours to walk the market stalls in town and check out the area.