Before my friends and I arrived in Drake Bay we were told that there would be an opportunity to see Rio Oro as well, given that we were staying longer than two weeks. Despite the fact that we hadn't expected to stay somewhere so secluded, we were excited to hear that we could go "glamping" in an area where we would be able to interact with more turtles.
After staying in San Jose for our initial orientation, we stayed in Drake Bay for two nights before heading out to Rio Oro. The Hacienda Rio Oro where the volunteers stay is located in an area with only very few other homes. Volunteers stay in tents on raised platforms, with no electricity or WiFi. It was a nice change to be disconnected from the world in that way and to be focused on spending time with old friends, and making new ones. The accommodations were described as being simplistic, but were very new and comfortable.
We stayed in Rio Oro for a week, and although there are a limited number of tours to go on during the day in comparison to Drake Bay, we went hiking, kayaking, horseback riding, and traveled to Carate to visit the beach there. The best part about Rio Oro is the opportunity to work with many turtles every night, and to grow close with a small group of people in a short amount of time. We got to see both Green Turtles and Olive Ridley's, which made the nightly patrols go by quickly. When the time came to leave, we'd not only grown attached to the area and the way of life there, but the people that we were able to spend our week with. On our last night, we were able to see a cow being born and watched a very colorful sunset from the ranch.
Coming back from Rio Oro made El Progreso, a small town of 150, seem civilized and busy. Being here has been a very different experience. There are far fewer turtles every night, but the beach does offer the opportunity to swim. Going to the beach here also involved a walk through a flooded portion of the lagoon, much like Rio Oro, but there is a canoe here to take across for night patrols as well. The hostel here offers a totally different experience, as do the home-stays. You meet a lot more people and there are a lot of activities during the day, but it is harder to get to know the others in the same way.
Both Drake Bay and Rio Oro are amazing experiences on their own - but for anyone that has the chance to do both, I would highly recommend it!