My favorite place we visited while in Costa Rica was Hacienda La Ensenada. La Ensenada is a small lodge on a national wildlife refuge, located right on the Gulf of Nicoya in the province of Puntarenas. La Ensenada has so much to offer!
On our way to La Ensenada, it started to pour down rain. We eventually figured out that the rainy season started early this year, because it rained every afternoon for the rest of the trip! (but that did not stop us from having the adventure of our lives!) Anyways, we were riding our bus down the dirt road and we came to a stop. It was really dark, so most of us had no clue what was going on, but it turns out it rained so much that the road was eroding and we got stuck! It was an adventure, but we finally got free and were able to make it safely to the lodge. Thankfully, it had stopped raining briefly so that we could get our luggage off the bus and to our bungalows. But the first thing we noticed was this strange noise… it almost sounded like dogs barking in the distance. Much to our surprise, it was a bunch of howler monkeys! Those crazy guys live around the lodge and often woke us up with their howling in the wee hours of the morning.
While at La Ensenada, we were able to experience so much! On the first day alone, we took an early morning hike to birdwatch, a boat tour around the Gulf to see more incredible birds, another hike to the salt marshes (where salt is harvested), got caught in the pouring rain on the way back, and enjoyed a lecture undercover during a thunderstorm. Overall, a pretty awesome day to say the least. We also were able to explore the wildlife refuge on horseback, riding through pastures, marshes, and even up a small mountain to a lookout where we saw one of the most beautiful views I have experienced in my life.