Costa Rica

A Rainforest Tour and Chocolate Tasting in Costa Rica

Jan 28

costarainforest9Despite its small size, Costa Rica contains 5% of the earth’s biodiversity and is home to more than 500,000 species- so, needless to say, visiting the Rainforest was one of the things I was most looking forward to during my visit.

While I did manage to see toucans, a sloth, and a few frogs, the wildlife wasn’t as apparent as I had hoped, mostly due to the raging rainstorm that lasted for a good part of the day. (Or it may have been my obnoxious red rain poncho that acted as a wildlife deterrent- I’m not quite sure.)

The tour started with a walk around some of the paths and suspension bridges throughout La Selva Reserve (in the Sarapiquì area). Our guide, Manuel, pointed out massive termite nests, various species of trees, and frighteningly large insects. I found the flora to be just as beautiful and equally as interesting as the fauna, so I was happy to learn about the plant life while the larger mammals and birds hid from the heavy downpour.

costarainforest9 costarainforest14costarainforest8Manuel pointed out a tarantula burrow and regaled us with stories from his nighttime rainforest walks, where the more frightening creatures are often spotted. He had multiple photos on his phone from previous night tours; bats, large tarantulas, and neon-coloured snakes were a few pictures that he proudly displayed, and he had me wishing I was joining one of his night tours.

The rain continued to come down, but we were able to escape it for a short while during the chocolate demonstration and tasting. We learned about cacao harvesting and the fermentation process, and we were given an in-depth demonstration of the chocolate making process. We were able to taste the sweet cacao fruit, and we were given multiple samples of chocolate throughout the presentation.

costarainforest5 Costarainforestcostarainforest3First, the guide made a frothy hot chocolate style drink. As if it wasn’t already tasty enough on its own, we had the option to add a variety of spices and flavours (nutmeg, vanilla, and chili) to the drink. I added a few drops of vanilla and a hint of chili, which was a surprisingly delicious combination.

costarainforest7 costarainforest6Next, the guide melted the cacao beans and added some cane sugar to slightly sweeten the mixture. When it had turned into a thick, creamy texture, he handed out samples by the spoonful- and my God was it good. It was velvety and rich, and not overly sweet. Needless to say, I went back for seconds and thirds. And fourths.

Finally, we sampled two handmade chocolate bar-style pieces- one dark and one milk- and both were incredibly delicious. They were creamy and smooth, and the high quality chocolate made it taste especially decadent.

This was easily some of the best chocolate I’ve ever tasted- if not the best, and the demonstration ended up being the highlight of the tour.

By late afternoon, the rain had finally subsided and we started to spot some of Costa Rica’s more notorious wildlife.

While walking along a suspension bridge, we saw a few small toucans resting near the top of a nearby tree, and Manuel managed to spot two poison dart frogs as we walked back along the path.

On our way out of the reserve, we spotted a lone sloth in the distance, and stood to watch as he slowly moved from one branch to another.

costarainforest12 costarainforest17Even though the rain made wildlife spotting all the more difficult, I thoroughly enjoyed wandering around the rainforest and learning about one of the most biologically rich countries in the world. And I’m still dreaming of that chocolate.

8 Comments

  • Reply Marni Jan 28 at 11:50 am

    That sounds absolutely amazing! Not so much the potential for spiders (I’m terribly arachnophobic) but all the other chances to see wildlife mixed with a chance to indulge in delicious chocolate sounds like the perfect combination!

    • Reply ashleywanders Jan 28 at 5:11 pm

      We didn’t see too many spiders, so I’m sure you’d be fine :). And it was a great combination- wildlife and chocolate just so happen to be two of my favourite things!

  • Reply Carina Chung Jan 28 at 1:29 pm

    So much rustic charm! Its so interesting to see how different flavours change the taste of the chocolate during the process.
    Your gorgeous pictures make me want some chocolate now!

    X, Carina
    Running White Horses

    • Reply ashleywanders Jan 28 at 5:27 pm

      It was such an interesting presentation!
      Sorry to make you crave chocolate πŸ™‚ I regret not taking a photo of the melted chocolate, but maybe it’s for the best since a photo would only make me crave it more!

  • Reply Justine of The Travel Lush Jan 29 at 1:56 am

    This looks like the best tour ever! I love hot chocolate and for some reason the combination of vanilla and chili sounds incredibly delicious!

    • Reply ashleywanders Jan 29 at 11:50 am

      It was a surprisingly delicious combination πŸ™‚

  • Reply unfinishedtravel Feb 01 at 6:14 pm

    This sounds like a great tour – I’ll have to check it out if I ever make it back to Costa Rica!

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