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Live the adventures of Dan Walker's travels through reading his travel journal. The travel journals are listed below in descending order of date. To search the travel journals, use the keyword search at the bottom of the page.

Journal Entry:

Friday, April 23, 2010 14:24:40

Isla del Coco 2010: 1 - Preparation and island information

This is a trip I have contemplated ever since moving to Costa Rica, and this year an opportunity arose to travel with a group put together by the Fundación Amigos de la Isla del Coco (Foundation of the friends of Cocos Island). They chartered the Pacific Explorer, a 100 passenger cruise ship that operates in Costa Rica, and were offering prices less than 2/3 of others I've had to date. An advantage of travelling with the foundation is that they have the run of the island, where some other tours are not even permitted ashore. The island has short rivers with over 200 waterfalls draining into its four bays and the highest peak on the island is 575.5 meters (1,888 ft)

An organizational meeting was held at the Costa Rica Country Club, where we were surprised to find that all but two of the participants in attendance were Costa Ricans, or Latinos from nearby countries. The two others, US citizens who are recent residents of Costa Rica, were a bit lost as everything was in Spanish. A detailed itinerary was explained and questions answered. There are 94 participants - close to a full ship!

The 23.85 sq. km (9.2 sq mi) island has been a national park since 1978, and was designated a world heritage site in 1997. A Spanish captain discovered it in 1526, when the valleys were full of coconut palms planted by pre-Columbian navigators, thus giving it the name. It became part of Costa Rica, even though it is about 550 km (340 mi) from the closest point in the country, by government decree in 1832. Only park rangers are permitted to stay on the island, camping is not allowed.

It's isolation and wet oceanic climate has given it a distinct ecological character, with many endemic plants & insects. It was short listed for the New 7 Wonder's of Nature, and ranks second in the islands category. Jacques Cousteau claimed it is the most beautiful island in the world. The PADI scuba diving association names it as one of the world's 10 best dive spots, due to the huge numbers of hammerhead sharks (largest congregation in the world), reef sharks, whale sharks, manta rays, dolphins, sea turtles and other large marine species.

The island is fabled as a pirate stopping point, and rumours of buried treasure have brought over 300 expeditions to the island to search - one group paying over a million dollars for the privilege. One famous fellow spent 20 years of his life on the island searching for fortune but found nothing. Treasure hunting ended with the park designation. The islands abundant fresh water also made it a stop for many sailing ships.

It sounds like it will be an interesting place to see. We leave tomorrow at 2 PM, so more when I can next find Internet.