The Amazin’ Ms. D and I traveled to Costa Rica for a restful beach vacation. Truthfully, Sitting on a beach for a whole is more vegetating than I usually can stand, so I decided to look for a tour to take. Now, I am not a person that does “adventure travel”, but there was a tour that interested me, the Diamante Eco Adventure Park.
The Diamante Park was built about 5 years ago near the town of Matapalo. It sits on a hillside overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It was a two hour drive from our hotel in Tamarindo, and the Hotel Tamarindo Diriá offered a trip there on its own bus. They sold two different tours. The “Adventure” tour, which included a choice of zip-line or horse-back riding, including a very long “superman” zip-line. Another choice is the “Cultural” tour which includes a demonstration of the history of sugar, coffee, and chocolate in Costa Rica. Both tours offer the opportunity to visit the Diamante Animal Sanctuary and include aa buffet lunch. I chose the Cultural Tour.
After arriving, and checking in at the welcome center, we took shuttle down the hill to the Sanctuary. Now, some people hear that word, and picture a jeep driving through the Serengeti. Well, this wasn’t that. It is a zoo. The enclosures are larger than just a cage, but it is definitely a zoo. What you find is a good collection of local fauna. Our tour started with the large cats. They have two jaguars, two pumas and two ocelots, each in their own enclosures. Next came spider monkeys and then capuchin monkey. After that we arrived to the animals I was most interested in, the sloths. Unfortunately, they were all asleep, so all we saw were balls of fur laying among the branches of a tree.
|Three Toed Sloth|
There were two aviaries with toucans, a butterfly encounter crocs, iguanas, snakes, and turtles. The selection of animals was interesting, but I was disappointed. I was hoping for something more. I was looking forward to seeing more interaction with the animals. At least a keeper with sloth that was awake and moving around.
|Rainbow Billed Toucan|
|Fiery Billed Aracari|
After the zoo, we went back to the welcome center for lunch. They served a buffet that offered a nice selection of salads (green and mixed), along with rice, beans, bbq ribs and roast chicken. We ate at tables on a covered patio that looked out over the valley and the ocean.
|Waiting for the Zip-line|
After lunch it was back down the hill to the botanical gardens and the cultural center for the “Sugar, Coffee, and Chocolate Cultural Experience.” Our host was Andy. He gave an interesting and comprehensive talk on the history of, and demonstration of the preparation of, all three. We stated by pressing fresh sugar cane. Andy collected the juice and we all had a taste of fresh sugar juice. Next was an introduction to coffee. Andy is a firm believer that a medium roast is the beast because it balances flavor, acidity and bitterness. He ground some beans and made a fresh pour for us, using a coffee sock, a reusable cloth filter. Finally, Andy showed us the fruit of the cacao tree. He explains how the seeds were taken and roasted and then ground into a paste. He explained the difference between dark and milk chocolate and then provided us with the opportunity to create our own mix of cacao, sugar and powdered milk.
|Traditional Ox Cart|
|My hand-made chocolate|
Diamante Eco Park is a nice diversion. The people who did the zip-line seemed to really enjoy it. The sanctuary was not impressive to someone who lives near the Bronx Zoo, but did have a nice collection of animals, and the cultural experience was a lot of fun.
Nuts and Bolts:
You can drive to the Park, although I would suggest a 4-wheel drive car as there are several places where the road is not paved, and one where it runs through a river bed.
Admission - Adventure (zip-line) $118 adult/$95 child
Discovery (cultural) $48/$39
Hotel Tour prices - Adventure - $150
Discovery - $115