Beyond the Borders

Exploring Costa Rica and Nicaragua for British Airways 'High Life' Magazine

Alongside journalist Killian Fox, I spent 12 days traversing Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

With financial assistance from the Japanese government, a new border crossing has been opened over the Rio San Juan, making access for travellers between Costa Rica and Nicaragua much easier.

We explored the vibrant natural landscapes and towns on either side of the border, experiencing the genuine warmth of the people in these two Central American nations.

A stallholder at the Zapote Farmer's Market stands on a makeshift platform of used sugarcane stalks, giving him the extra height needed to operate his juicing machine.

Sugarcane juice, or Guarapo, is popular across Latin America.

A bus takes children home from school in the foothills of the Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica.

Restored and repainted former US school buses are a common sight across Latin America.

Giovanni Bello Carranza (58 yrs old) is one of the longest serving guides in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica.

He is passionate about birds, and assists with scientific surveys to establish breeding and migratory patterns. He is particularly interested in tracking the Resplendent Quetzal, a dramatic yet shy green bird that is found in the Monteverde reserve.

With financial support from the Japanese government, the Puente Santa Fe in Nicaragua was completed in 2014.

Spanning the Rio San Juan, the bridge opened a new frontier between Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

Two and a half hours up river from the new Puente Santa Fe, El Castillo is dramatically positioned on rapids on the Rio San Juan.

The centrepiece of the town is a 17th Century fortress built by Spanish conquistadors to defend the city of Granada from pirate attacks.

El Castillo remained a key strategic point for the Spanish empire, and was the site of several battles with the British. Nowadays, the town is a sleepy place, with an economy centred on agriculture and tourism. The town has a growing cacao and chocolate industry, and is also the closest access point for the Indio Maiz reserve, a protected area of pristine rainforest.

Angel Alfonso Tapia Moncada is President of the Cacao Cooperative in El Castillo.

The Cooperative produce high standard organic cacao beans for export to the European market, providing sustainable jobs for local people.

Yarlin Antonio Diaz Gomez is one of only 3 certified wildlife guides in El Castillo. He has been trained by the Ministry of the Environment in Nicaragua to temporarily capture and handle fauna in the Indio Maiz reserve, and to show them to tourists.

Yarlin takes tourists on tours up the Rio San Juan, usually at night as that is the best time to see caimans, lizards and other species.

Tio Antonio is a charitable foundation in Granada, Nicaragua.

Set up by Antonio Preto Buñuel, a native of Catalonia, the organisation helps deaf, blind and disadvantaged young people through training that leads to a job, either in the Cafe de las Sonrisas, or in the adjacent hammock workshop.