Pre-Envision Tour 2015 Recap and Review

When I made the decision to go to Envision Festival, I knew that I would want to arrive in Costa Rica several days ahead of time to get prepared. Then I stumbled upon the “Pre-Envision Eco/Adventure Tour,” and I knew that it was the perfect way to get acclimated to the tropical jungle climate, and the pura vida way of life. This tour included activities such as rafting, hiking, zip-lining, and boating. Cities, towns, rivers, beaches, rainforests, and jungles were our playground. After action packed days we would rest up in hostels, hotels, beach bungalows, and jungle jungalows. All the while cruising around the country in a huge private bus with a group of like minded individuals from all over the americas. And the best part, the cost of the tour includes your ticket (with special entry) into Envision Music and Arts Festival. Before the festival began I already had experienced some of the best parts of Costa Rica, adjusted to the tropical environment, and made 27 new best friends that I got to kick it with all weekend. Pura Vida all day!

Here is a full video recap of the entire tour:

“… the perfect way to get acclimated to the tropical jungle climate, and the Pura Vida way of life.”
The total cost of the tour was $1,595.00 and this included your ticket to Envision, all activities, lodging, transportation, and most meals. The only things we were expected to pay for was alcohol, a few meals here and there, and your flight to and from Costa Rica. The tour began in San Jose, which is the capital of Costa Rica, and close to the airport. There was an optional meet and greet for those of us who were there the night before the tour started. There we met our 2 tour guides/ homies, Chad and Human, who have been running this tour for the past few years. I will refer to them as “Costamerican,” because although they grew up in the US, they now reside mostly in Costa Rica. They have a good knowledge of the country and are bilingual which proved very useful. We all enjoyed a group dinner and enjoyed a relaxing night, the calm before the storm.

Day 1 started bright and early. We were picked up by our driver “Criss Cross” on a large spacious air conditioned blue bus that was our transportation throughout the entire trip. Also there to greet us was one of our rafting guides who accompanied us on our two hour drive to the Pacuare River to go white water rafting down class 3 and 4 rapids, through primary and secondary rainforests. The Pacuare river is considered one of the 5 most scenic rivers in the world, and I would certainly not argue with that. For me, the adrenaline started pumping before I even got my feet wet, as our large group barrelled down a steep gravel slope in an ancient bus with mystical transformer-like powers, I kept my fingers crossed that the breaks didn’t give out. Once the rafting began, I really got well acquainted with the fierce currents when I got tossed in during a gnarly class 4 section of the river. Fortunately I was in good hands, and the professional guides were able to get me to safety quickly. It made for a sweet Go Pro Video 🙂

After two hours of rafting and soaking in the sunshine with lush green jungle views, we all pulled over for a nice riverside lunch. The guides prepared a typical Costa Rican feast with taco styled meats, veggies, fruits, and drinks that energized us for the rest of the trip which was another couple of hours. Rafting was by far one of my favorite activities of the trip, and I would highly recommend including it in your itinerary.

The rafting company we used was Exploradores Outdoors, they offer a number diverse adventure excursions besides rafting, and I would not hesitate to refer them to my own friends and family. Eventually we arrived at our destination, which was equipped with dressing rooms, showers, and most importantly beers and snacks to stock up on as we hop on the bus and head to Playa Chiquita, where we would be posting up for the next couple of nights. That night we enjoyed a mixed fusion group dinner, and continued to get to know each other over drinks and laughs. One of the couples even got engaged right there in the restaurant.

The Next Morning

The next morning, Criss Cross dropped us off in the nearby town of Manzanillo, where we would begin our 2 – 3 our hike along the coast, and in and out of primary and secondary rainforest. Our destination was a jungle wonderland retreat center called Punta Mona, which would be our home for the next 3 nights. We had an eccentric local Rastafarian man to guide us. He was very knowledgable about the land, and stopped and pointed out all types of plants and animals along the way.

After a few hours of slipping and sliding through the rainforest, we arrived at Punta Mona, which is an 85 acre permaculture and sustainable living education center, located deep in jungle, along the caribbean coast, and off the grid. I’ve never been anywhere else like Punta Mona. It’s by far the most bio-diverse places I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing first hand. On top of that it is very environmentally progressive and conscious. The entire surrounding area was abundant with plants, flowers, herbs, trees, and wildlife of all types. There were hammocks, and beautiful little nooks to kick back and chill all over the property, which we were free to roam at will

I’ve never been anywhere else like Punta Mona. It’s by far one of the most bio-diverse places I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing first hand. On top of that it is very environmentally progressive and conscious. The entire surrounding area was abundant with plants, flowers, herbs, trees, and wildlife of all types. There were hammocks, and beautiful little nooks to kick back and chill all over the property, which we were free to roam at will

It’s by far one of the most bio-diverse places I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing first hand.
The sound of a conch horn being blown alerts you that it’s either breakfast lunch or dinner. Every meal we ate consisted of produce that was grown right there on the property, and prepared, with love, in the large outdoor covered kitchen. Knowing that the food you’re consuming is a product of the hardworking, enthusiastic workers and volunteers on site makes it taste that much more delicious. We also were given comfortable “jungalows.” for lodging. Each one had beds to accommodate 2-3 people, and many of them had an open feel to them that made you feel immersed in the jungle environment (while not being completely exposed to the elements.) There was a large 2 story communal lodge where we ate our meals, lounged, and relaxed. There were artistically made spacious showers with mosaic tiles, and compost toilets were located throughout the property, (although finding a tree to pee on was encouraged.) All of the amenities were clean, and well attended to. Everything was made with the most natural means possible, with the environmental impact always under consideration.

“Everything was made with the most natural means possible, with the environmental impact always under consideration.”

Throughout our time in Punta Mona, we had a lot of free time in which we were able to choose from many activities to kill time. At any given time you were sure to find a group of people lounging by the beach, cutting open coconuts with a machete, and filling them with rum. We dubbed these “CoCo-LoCoS,” and they were being passed around “all day~.” You could also assume that there would always be a group of people in the lodge, hangin’ and swangin’ from hammocks, having profound conversations, and brainstorming million dollar ideas such as “hammock pants,” in which no matter where you are, your outfit can be readily converted into a hammock, equipped with deep pockets for all of your festy paraphernalia.

We did manage to get some exhilaration in the mix with some group Yoga, Zumba, and Capoeria classes in the big dome. There was also bonfires, music, champagne campaigns, plantain campaigns, party favors, pens, hoola hooping, siestas, and lots of hand stands. We had an epic “Cacao!” Ceremony, in which we witnessed and participated in all of the stages of making tasty, raw, organic chocolate balls. We were taken on a tour of the property in which we were shown lots of different plants and techniques for how, and where to grow them. Perhaps the most memorable experience for all of us would have been walking to the river, and covering ourselves, and each other, head to toe in mineral rich clay. This was a sensational group “manage-spa” which reaLLy brought us aLL cLoser together.

On the last morning we had one more group, or should I say family style, breakfast before we boated away. I say family because at this point of the trip, the word family would best describe the energy and vibes that surrounded our large, happy, loving group. By now we had all been together for 5 solid days in a diverse array of situations and environments. Each and every one of the 27 individuals in our group couldn’t have been more unique, and consequentially different from one another. However, we were all easily able to open up to each other, and form deep connections and bonds in this magical jungle wonderland.

Zip-Lining was a great way to experience the flora and fauna from the tree tops. We zoomed around the jungle on 16 or so different zip lines of various lengths and angles. There is also a sweet tarzan rope that you swing from to mix it up a little bit. We arranged the excursion right in the town of Puerto Viejo through the company Terraventuras who I would also recommend to friends and family. The guides were very professional, provided us transportation to and from the zip lines, provided us lockers for our valuables, and fed us some sweet tasty fruit when we were finished.

Once we were finished zipping through the tree tops we all hopped on the bus and began our 5 hour journey back to San Jose, where we would be spending the night. Poor Criss Cross probably wished he had a gas mask as soon as our group of 27 smelly hippies, who had just spent 4 sweaty days in the jungle, contaminated the atmosphere of his fresh tidy bus. The bus ride was a long one. Those of us who had an inclination to post up in the very back of the bus dubbed the bus the “mullet bus,” business in the front, party in the back. If you wanted to listen to music and be in the rotation of the bottles of champagne and mixed drinks that were being passed around, come kick it in the back. One thing we learned that day is that long, hot, smelly bus rides can be made slightly less unpleasant, when you make a strategically thought out cuddle puddle.

“Zip-Lining was a great way to experience the flora and fauna from the tree tops.”

The last official day of the tour we made our way towards Dominical, which was about a half hour from Envision Festival. However we had one last excursion that day, and pulled over in San Mateo de Orotina on the way, to explore the community of Tacotal in which one of our tour guide homies, Human, actually had property and a house. It was located in a beautiful part of the rainforest, alongside a flowing river in which we relaxed and cooled off for an hour or so before visiting the home of one of Human’s neighbors who was nice enough to prepare a huge delicious lunch for all of us, using all organic and tasty ingredients from his own property. We all agreed that this was our favorite lunch, and a super sweet house.

  • We also made a stop at a wal-mart like store Maxi-Pali so that we could load up on gear and supplies for the festy. We arrived in Dominical in the evening time, and the town was buzzing with energy from other eager Envisioneers, stoked for the festival that would be opening it’s doors the following morning. We all enjoyed our final family dinner together with a scrumptious at Maracatu which was actually started by one of the co-founders of Envision. The town of Dominical, is located on a long beautiful beach on the Pacific coast. A few of the bars, including Maracatu were throwing pre-envision parties, and DJ’s blasting electronic music could be heard throughout the whole town. Bars and streets were crawling with people from all over the world, anticipating what promised to be a life changing, inspiring weekend.
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The next morning we all loaded up the bus for the last time, (probably to Criss Cross’s relief.) We made it to the gates of Envision and were slightly dismayed to find an epically long line of people waiting to get on. However, Stephen Brooks, founder of Punta Mona, and co-founder of Envision(and the Pre-Envision Tour,) had one more gesture of spectacularness for us. He came to meet us all personally, and pulled some strings to be able to hand deliver us our wristbands, enabling us to bypass the huge line that many people reported waiting in, in the heat, for 4+ hours. We all brushed our shoulders off as we unloaded the bus, and entered the gates of the festival.

This tour embodied all of the components of an eco, adventure tour, yet so much more. After 7 exhilerating days traveling throughout Costa Rica, we then got to experience the amazing music and art at Envision Festival. This progressive, inspirational event deserves it’s own write-up, although it can’t be described in words. To top it all off, we got to experience it all with our 27 new lifelong friends that we met on the tour. There is no doubt that I would do it again, and recommend it to all y’alllllll! HoLLa!!~