Posts Tagged ‘Costa Rica’
Here at Amazing Journeys, we’re lucky have the best jobs in the world—and we think our good fortune is worth sharing. So, when your next journey seems like a distant dream, take a few minutes to explore our WANDERLUST blog—it’s chock full of engaging tales and helpful tips from our travels around the world. Check out the most recent entry (at the top) or search by your preferred criteria. Consider it motivation for your next embarkation.
Over the past 20 years, (the last 11 years under the name Amazing Journeys) we have taken over 6000 passengers across seven continents to places once only dreamed of . We tag our Amazing Journeys with “vacations that change your life” and there’s a reason we do so.
Together we’ve gone jetboating in New Zealand, hot-air ballooning in Australia, dog sledding in Alaska, snorkeling in the Caribbean, zip lining in Costa Rica, parading at Carnaval in Rio, biking in Europe, off-roading in Iceland and even swimming in Antarctica!
We’ve seen the Statue of David, the Sydney Opera House, the massive Alaskan glaciers, the Aurora Borealis, the Great Wall of China, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, The Grand Canal in Venice and The Grand Canyon itself.
We’ve been kissed by dolphins, cuddled by koalas, snorkeled with sea lions, swam with the stingrays, witnessed the birth of a buffalo and waddled with penguins. And….we’ve been the venue for the introduction of over 100 “happily ever after” individuals who, for obvious reasons, won’t be seen on an upcoming Jewish singles Amazing Journey.
Check out some of these life changing experiences we have provided and shared with our Amazing travelers. If you are one of the lucky one’s who have ‘been there, done that’ then you can attest to the life changing experiences we offer to our travelers and we invite you to come back for more. If you are one of our readers and followers and facebook friends who have yet to travel with us…what are you waiting for? Life is too short to stay home. Get out there with us and experience what it’s like to have, by true definition, an Amazing Journey.
A vacation that will change your life.
Here at Amazing Journeys we have been company to truly amazing experiences in all parts of the world. In 19 years of leading Jewish singles to places on all 7 continents, the thousands of travelers we have hosted will attest to remarkable experiences: from zip lining above the clouds in Costa Rica, to dog sledding on a glacier in Alaska…from witnessing the Sumba Parade in Rio during Carnival, to celebrating New Year’s in Hawaii…from riding an elephant in Thailand to marching with the penguins in Chile.
But imagine for a moment if these wonderful experiences in waiting, never happened because of one simple faux pas…one simple misjudgement, one simple moment of carelessness or one simple moment in time that could have and should been avoided.
These five simple rules of engagement can help you maintain peace of mind in your preparations for that long awaited/long earned vacation. Don’t let Murphy’s Law rule. Live by the Vacationer’s Rule where thou art due leisure time away on vacation; to live carefree, to have fun, to leave your worries behind and to “vacate” your life of responsibility for a life of bliss:
1. Mind Your Passport: Really…..don’t just assume that its where you “usually” put it, and make sure that its on your person BEFORE checking your luggage onto a cruise ship or under a motor coach (thank goodness the airlines ask for it before you check your luggage). Case in point: Barbara (names are being changed to protect the innocent) was sure she had her passport in her pocketbook as she checked in onto a recent cruise with Amazing Journeys. After the porters took her luggage for boarding, she realized she packed in her suitcase. The luggage was somewhere amongst 3000 other pieces of baggage in process of being delivered to staterooms and she was denied boarding until her luggage appeared again. Lucky for her, it was before the ship set sail.
2. Lighten Up, Francis: For so many reasons, travelers need to lighten their load while traveling. It can cost you more in checked baggage fees…the more you pack, the more you can lose if your bag gets lost….lighter luggage is greener on the planet as it uses less fuel, less manpower to haul, and less materials to wear & tear, etc. And, it’s easier on you! Even if you have luggage assistance on your tour, somewhere along your way you will have to handle your own belongings and if its too heavy for even you to move, its too heavy! Case in point: Sharon was on her way to meet her Amazing Journeys group at JFK for a flight overseas and the start of a tour of Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. While unloading her suitcase from the taxi, she lost her balance and trying to right herself, tweaked her lower back. She couldn’t right herself and let alone move her luggage into the airport, she couldn’t even stand upright. She never made it to Ecuador.
3. Make Things Right, At Home: Have a checklist of things you need to do to get yourself ready for the trip, that not only includes actual trip preparations (buy sunscreen, pack camera, have enough underwear, etc), but preparations for your leaving and returning to home. Buy an automatic light timer that will randomly turn a lamp on in your home throughout the days and nights, giving the impression that your home is occupied. This is a deterrent for would-be thiefs. Clean all your dirty dishes. Imagine the stench or mold left to grow if your kitchen has perishable food hanging around for a week. Make your bed! Its just nice to come home to an orderly home after a long time away. The last thing you want to do is organize, clean or fix something. And finally, if your home is going to be empty, make sure your main water supply is turned off. Case in point: Sam left for his 10 night Amazing Journey to the Med. One of the pipes leading to his washing machine cracked while he was away causing the water to flow onto his basement floor. And flow and flow it did, flooding his basement and beyond. Because the water flowed continuously for days (he really wasn’t sure when it broke) he had so much water damage in his basement that he needed to gut it all out and basically rebuild it. NOT a fun way to come home from vacation.
4. KISS Your Vacation (Keep It Simple, Stupid): You’re on vacation finally. You’re feeling relaxed, carefree, like a kid again. Just what you wanted! Way to go, dude! But….you forgot one thing. You’re not a kid anymore. The reality check here is make sure that you have your vacation, within your physical and emotional means. Its ok to have a few more drinks than normal, but don’t pound ‘em down like you’re at a college frat party. Do you really want to lose a day or more of your precious vacation to a hangover? Speaking of drinking, be careful where you are drinking the water. There are places you want to go where you won’t want to drink the water. Do your research and ask the questions. Montezuma’s Revenge will hurt more than a hangover and ruin more than a day. Finally, its ok to take on new adventures but do so with care. Wear a helmet if you go bike riding or wave-running, wear sturdy shoes if you go hiking and don’t go near any of the wildlife. Also, don’t go where you’re not supposed to. Case in point: Phil was in Alaska with Amazing Journeys and after a full day of Whale Watching and biking, he had 30 minutes before he needed to board our ship. Not wanting to miss a single minute of seeing something he took off for an unscheduled, unsupervised and rushed hike, just so he could say he did. He was so careless in his rushed approach to this hike that he found a secluded rock formation to hike…and then slipped, falling 10 feet into a ditch where no one could see or hear him. His broken rib causing pain and subsequently losing his wind, he had no choice but to muster up strength to get himself out of the ditch and to the ship. All this in 30 minutes! The end result was two days in the ship’s infirmary and an early disembarkation so he could be hospitalized.
5. Buy Travel Insurance! For all the aformentioned reasons and so many more, you need to protect your vacation investment. From lost luggage to a delayed flight or an unexpected need to cancel due to injury or illness to you or a family member…insurance can safeguard what is a significant investment of your time and money. If there is one thing you do to prepare for your trip beyond packing, its this. Buy insurance. Let me say it again; BUY TRAVEL INSURANCE! Its a nominal but extraordinarily valuable addition to your vacation planning and it gives you peace of mind should anything go wrong: Case in point: Just last week, Ethan was booked on our Bermuda Cruise out of Bayonne, NJ. He was scheduled to fly from Columbus to JFK early in the morning on the day of the cruise, but the airports shut down due to Hurricane Irene. He had not purchased travel insurance because he was “sure nothing could wrong..I’m a healthy guy”. Sadly he didn’t get to go on the trip and he lost all his money. Another case in point: Sarah’s luggage came off the belt in Sydney during one of our Australia tours, with a huge gash in the side making the piece unuseable. The airlines shrugged it off as they do, but Sarah had insurance was able to be reimbursed for a new suitcase.
Another Amazing Journey embarks on Thursday with our 3rd Jewish singles trip to Costa Rica. This remarkable destination is chock full of deliciously warm weather, lush green massive rainforests, extraordinary adventure and an undeveloped landscape that makes coming here a true natural wonder. No tall buildings, no massive crowds, never a feeling of “touristy” and no lack of surprises. Among other things, we’ll be hiking an active volcano, canyoning down a waterfall, horseback riding through the rainforest, and zip lining ABOVE the treetops at over 7000 feet…just to name a few. We’ll also spend three nights at the amazing Tabacon Resort at the base of the Arenal Volcano where we’ll indulge in the beauty, landscape and surroundings of the natural hotsprings, mineral pools and waterfalls created by this volatile and spectacular phenomenon.
Follow our exploration and experience of our eight night tour in Costa Rica by visiting our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/amazingjourneys where we’ll post some moments-in-time from this awesome tour.
If your idea of an ideal vacation is to enjoy a pairing of lovely tropical beaches, the grandest adventures, the wonders of nature, and a scintillating culture, Costa Rica is a place where dreams can be made. No wonder, then, that thousands of tourists have made Costa Rica their top travel choice.
Costa Rica occupies a privileged spot in the heart of Central America. While its territory of 19,652 square miles touches both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the country is surprisingly accessible – just a 3 hour flight from Atlanta. Its borders are protected by the US military and its inland protective services are protected by a respected and reputable police force. Costa is not only beautiful, its smart.
Just what the every Jewish single is looking for!
A little bit of knowledge about this country is interesting…however a personal experience of this country will drop your jaw with anticipation, excitement, adventure and relaxation. All rolled into one!
Intersecting beaches and forests
Costa Rica’s beaches are surrounded by forests, and have great natural diversity and a variety of aquatic ecosystems with beautiful white and black sand beaches, ideal for sport fishing, snorkeling, and sun bathing. In this small area of firm land, there are 762 miles of coastlines, distributed on the Pacific and the Caribbean. Costa Rican beaches allow you to sun-tan while having the additional bonus of being part of a complex pro-nature system known as the Ecological Blue Flag Award recognizing Costa Rica’s commitment with sustainability and environmental protection.
Plants and animals everywhere
Costa Rica´s territory is so small that it encompasses only 0.03% of the planet´s surface but is within the top 20 richest countries in biodiversity on Earth in terms of species density. It is possible to find more species in 1,000 sq.miles in Costa Rica that in the same area in countries like Brazil or Colombia. Costa Rica has nearly half a million species, representing 4% of the planet´s expected biodiversity. Are you ready to discover it?
Costa Rica´s Marvels of Fire
As part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, Costa Rica´s volcanoes are among the most mesmerizing in the world. In fact, the present-day landmass known as Costa Rica is the result of complex volcanic activity that took place some 75 million years ago and still continues today.
Counting every location or crater where an eruption has occurred within its borders, Costa Rica volcanoes boast a stunning 112 sites throughout the country. Most Costa Rica volcanoes and their surrounding areas have been made into national parks.
One of them is Arenal Volcano, listed among the 10 most active volcanoes in the world and for a good reason: It regularly puts on a spectacle, showing off with strong rumbling sounds and occasional rock avalanches, as well as smoke, ash and lava eruptions that descend its slope at speeds reaching 70 kilometers per hour and temperatures reaching 1,000 degrees Celsius.
The mountain and surrounding area were declared a national park in 1994. Thermal hot springs are now the area’s main attraction, most of which boast nearby trails and numerous lookout points. And yes, one of the highlights of the upcoming Amazing Journey for Jewish singles in their 30s, 40s & 50s is a three night stay at the Tabacon Resort at the base of the Arenal Volcano. To say it’s a highlight, is an understatement
The Biggest Rainforest in Costa Rica
La Amistad International Park (PILA) is the biggest natural park in Costa Rica covering a great variety of humid, rain and cloud forests in the Pacific and Atlantic sides, as well as indigenous reserves.
The Talamanca region, a big portion of the park, was a refuge in colonial times for indigenous people who were resilient from the Spanish colonizers’ repression.
The enormous cultural richness and extraordinary natural habitats, result of different altitudes, soil and microclimates, was the reason why the park was also designed Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site.
Species in great danger of extinction such as the jaguar, the largest feline in the Americas and third largest world-wide, live in the park as well as a great variety of wildlife, which includes 400 species of birds, 263 species of amphibians and reptiles and 213 of mammals. Many other species are found only in this giant rainforest.
The Canopy Tour, Originally from Costa Rica
Born in Costa Rica in the 90s, the canopy tour is the closest experience to enable one to feel like a monkey travelling in the tree tops. It is also one of the best ways to explore the richness of the canopy, where the biggest amount of the forest’s biodiversity is found, and to raise awareness about the rainforest’s fragile ecosystem.
It consists of a series of suspended cables attached from tree to tree on which you can glide along using a pulley that is secured to the harness. Cables vary in length (they can measure even 700 meters long!) and end in small wooden platforms built in the tops of trees, which are located up to 100 feet above the jungle floor. The impact to the forest is minimal.
The canopy tour has been adapted to a great variety of environments and landscapes within the country, including mountains, canyons, rivers, waterfalls and cloud, dry and tropical forests. The tour has also been exported to other Latin American countries such as Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Belize.
Nature on the skin
Imagine if the delicious cup of coffee, the freshly made piña colada, the aromatic essences that give flavor to your salad or even the fragrance of the wild flowers which you breathe, could be part of your skin. Mixing these ingredients within various health, relaxation and beauty treatments is possible in Costa Rica.
Situated throughout the territory are locations that are also home to many diverse spas that strive to offer a holistic service of international quality and to do it with the warmth and personalized attention of the Costa Rican people.
If you add a never-ending source of certified natural produce, creativity and knowledge, you will end up with an array of benefits to replenish your skin. These products can improve health, calm emotions and truly work their magic while used for massages at the able hands of local therapists.
These healing ingredients include coffee, brown sugar and even coconut. They may be used to exfoliate your skin and help it eliminate dead cells and toxins, or they may improve blood circulation and allow positive energy to flow throughout your body. One way to do it is by enjoying the ever-popular body wraps, in which volcanic mud, jasmine, mint or tropical fruits are used to hydrate and replenish the skin while also nurturing it with vitamins and minerals.
Specially designed healing rooms provide an ideal climate – one enriched by stimulating decorations, soothing music and ambient sounds from nature, sea or forest animals – in which one may enjoy a therapeutic experience to be shared even with couple, friends and family.
Birds that cannot go unnoticed
Its plumage is mostly scarlet but its tail-covered feathers are light blue, making the Scarlet Macaw one of the most beautiful birds of the American tropics. In fact, with almost 1 meter in length, more than half constituted by its pointed striking tail, this bird cannot go unnoticed, especially because they are often seen in pairs. A number of couples may even congregate with others to form a flock of several hundred individuals: a spectacle that is impossible to forget when they fly above the forest canopy.
One interesting thing about Macaws is the use of beaks as an aid in both eating and as a “third foot” when climbing. The beak is strong to crush seeds and nuts, while the thick fleshy tongue is used to move the food around.
Another bird worth keeping your eyes peeled in the trees for is the Toucan. The colorful, giant bill, which in some large species measure more than half the length of the body, is the hallmark of toucans and to see this swift flyer swoop among trees is a sight to behold only in Costa Rica.
The most amazing journey across the Americas
Every year, millions of migratory species, whether by water, land or air, travel enormous distances over the American continent, some of them arrive in Costa Rica, in search of better climatic conditions, more abundant food or a suitable site for reproduction, which generally coincides with the warmer season. These odysseys are not exempt from great challenges; some species travel up to 20,000 miles round-trip.
This happens with species of whales, bats, birds, fish, sea turtles and even insects like the monarch butterfly. Most flee the North American winter to seek food in the southern part of the continent, and then return to their feeding grounds in the north when their favorite foods sprout anew in the spring.
Very small species like ruby-throated hummingbirds which measure only 10 cm, fly non-stop for 26 hours from Canada and the United States to Central America at a velocity of 28 mph for a voyage of 652 miles that even includes crossing the Gulf of Mexico. And if the blackpoll warbler only 13 cm long, were to burn gasoline instead of body fat, it would get 715,852 miles per gallon.
But the most extensive individual migration known for a mammal was that of a humpback whale initially spotted off the Antarctic Peninsula and then seen off the Santa Elena Peninsula of Costa Rica, for a total trip of 7,130 miles
Want to see it for yourself?
Join other Jewish singles from across the US (and beyond!) for a thrilling Amazing Journey to rainforests, cloudforests, jungles, beaches, and active volcanoes. We’ll take you on the path less followed to view strange and magnificent wildlife in their natural habitats, to swim in protected pristine waters, to delve into adventures you’ve never imagined, and to “chill” in nature’s wonderland of hot springs and mineral pools created by the biodiversities surrounding the country. All this plus a group of Jewish Singles from all over North America and beyond, who await you in magnificent Costa Rica. Contact Amazing Journeys for details: www.amazingjourneys.net
For thousands of years since successive waves of invaders chased the Israelites from their ancestral home, Jews have carried their religion with them wherever they have gone. Living in the Diaspora, Jews maintained their way of life, gathering in communities to share their traditions. Others were touched by the faith of the Jews scattered among them, or by the words of the Torah, and bound their lives to this enduring heritage.
There are scarcely more than thirteen million Jews in the world today; most of them live in established Jewish centers like Israel and large cities in North America and Western Europe. But what many do not know is that there are Jewish communities in Africa, Asia, South America, even parts of Europe and the Former Soviet Union, in which the Jewish populations do not have white skin or do not live fast-paced, modern lives. Some of these communities exist in places so geographically and culturally distant from other Jews that they must struggle daily to maintain the religion of their ancestors.
These often tiny Jewish communities are fascinating. Some of them are ancient such as in Tunisia where the first Jews arrived 2600 years ago during the Babylonian Exile. Others are brand new such as the the Inca Jews of Peru who started practicing Judaism just a few decades ago. The small communities are recognizably Jewish with many of them observing Shabbat and kosher laws in the familiar ways one would find everywhere. However, each have customs reflecting their own “flavor” of Judaism. For example, in the tiny Jewish communities of Uganda and Zimbabwe songs written in Hebrew are set to African melodies; in India the Benei Menashe still practice ritual sacrifice of animals while the Bene Israel have their “Malida” ceremony which offers prayers, songs and bowls of fruits and flowers to the Prophet Elijah.
Amazing Journeys has toured 7 continents and save for Antarctica, have explored and enjoyed points of Jewish interest in places like Peru, St. Petersburg, Sydney, Buenos Aires and even San Jose, Costa Rica. Yours truly was actually an invited guest on my extended “tour of duty” in Costa Rica back in 2003, to join a family—a big “machar” at the local synagogue—for Pesach Seder. A totally unexpected experience; so amazingly different…yet so amazingly familiar. Jews are Jews no matter where in the world they are, no matter what language their native tongue, no matter how mainstream or remote their neighborhood.
See below for some snapshots showing our fellow Jewish kinship from places you probably never thought of around the world:
Ugandan Jews are called the Abayudaya and here are some congregants and their Shule. They are found in the town of Mbale which is in the Eastern part of Uganda.
There are five rabbis in Tunisia; and even several kosher restaurants. Yacov B’Chiri is a cantor of the Djerba, Tunisia Jewish community. B’Chiri has been playing lute, or ud, and singing Arabic and Hebrew songs since he was young, and has become a legendary voice of the Djerban Jewish community.
Over five decades ago, in the northern Peruvian city of Cajamarca, two brothers began a spiritual journey that would reshape their own lives and those of hundreds of others. After Alvaro and Segundo Villanueva Correa read the Torah, they eventually decided to embrace Judaism, forming a community in 1958 whose members strictly observed the Sabbath and the Festivals and kept kosher.
The group, which came to be known as the “Bnei Moshe” (or Children of Moses), makes no claim of Jewish ancestry. Rather, it consists of like-minded families and individuals who found their spiritual truth in Judaism and decided out of deep sincerity to join the Jewish people. They continued to practice Judaism faithfully over several decades, expanding to the city of Trujillo as well, and growing in number to more than 500 people. Subsequently, nearly all of the Inca Jews underwent conversion by Israel’s Chief Rabbinate and made aliyah, thanks in part to Shavei Israel.
One of the greatest things about Amazing Journeys is, well..the journeys themselves. Traveling to Alaska, Costa Rica, Australia, Europe or South America are destinations that fulfill lifelong dreams and help make us all more worldly and appreciative of other walks of life.
But a journey can be an incomplete experience if you have no one with whom to share it. Like a tree in the forest needs other trees to grow, prosper and evolve…so do we humans need others to share in such landmark experiences as seeing life & history in another land. From here, friends are made. A team of players share the thrills of competition, a couple share the birth of a child, a committee helps steer the future of a community center — these are all examples of the attachments we have to needing and desiring the company of others. These are also examples of how friends are made.
Through Amazing Journeys, friends are made by sharing a common experience together; that of visiting another land. Taking pictures, going on a hike, sitting with a new acqaintance on a bus ride, sharing a meal, sitting in the jacuzzi or just chatting with someone while strolling through the streets are some of the most meaningful shared life experiences, and friend-making opportunities while on a tour. We know this premise very well as we instruct all our tour guides to not be offended if there’s chatter going on while a tour is in progress. Our groups love to chat!
But that’s the process…and the meaning behind traveling with a group. Traveling with others brings a world of perspective, adventure and the unexpected. It brings a potential for new friends that no other venue can offer. The experiences that AJ-made friends share together are life changing and special. And sometimes even matrimonial–over 100 individuals have found their soulmates on a previous Amazing Journey.
As Amazing Journeys embarks on our Reunion Weekend this Friday, we relish in the thousands of friendships that have been made over the years along our travels. We’ve made friends, yes, but the essense of our joy is witnessing the endless array of friendship and courtship that comes with being a travel member on an Amazing Journey. As our new friend Arlene stated in an email to us upon returning home from our recent Alaska cruise/tour: “Hopefully this will be only the beginning of our friendship. You said this trip would create wonderful new memories and friendships that would last a lifetime and already I see this coming to fruition.After I returned home, following my incredible two week trip, I felt “Alive”, busting with pure joy, exhilaration and happiness. Thank you for an incredible and outstanding trip and experience!!”
Whatever you garner while traveling, the memories will last a lifetime…but the friendships will change your life, over time.
There’s great meaning to the phrase “that’s what friends are for”