Costa Rica is a nature lover and outdoor enthusiasts’ paradise. It is very much at the forefront of eco-tourism and for good reason. The country is home to 15 different eco-systems which have created its spectacular natural beauty. For instance, it is home to cloud forests that nestle literally in the clouds and are alive with flora and fauna.
Its beaches go on for mile after mile of unspoilt beauty and the jungle has an extraordinary wildlife all of its own. To really get the best out of the country there are endless activities on offer: hiking, mountain biking, flying on zip lines through the jungle canopy, snorkelling, diving, horse riding and white water rafting.
The cloud forest of Monteverde is one of the most famous eco-tourism areas in Central America. It is called a cloud forest rather than a rain forest because of the altitude. At an elevation of between 3,840ft and 5,120ft the clouds go through the forest creating a misty and mystical habitat supporting a rich biodiversity of flora and fauna. Sky Trek is a canopy adventure with a system of platforms connected by zip lines and suspension bridges criss-crossing the top of the forest, providing a vantage point from in and above the forest canopy.
Santa Elena is home to the Monteverde Orchid Garden featuring 450 species including the world’s smallest one, which is viewed through a magnifying glass. The Santa Elena Reserva is less busy than Monteverde and an excellent place to do night trails. This is useful as a lot of the animals in this park are nocturnal.
Parque Nacional Cahuita is the only coral reef on the Costa Rican Caribbean coastline and found within this park are 500 species of fish which affords excellent opportunities for snorkelling and diving. It has stunning beaches and is good for both land and water activities making it one of the most visited parks on the Caribbean coast. A well-defined trail runs through the coastal rainforest and howler monkeys and sloths are among the wildlife attractions.
To really get the best out of the country there are endless activities on offer: hiking, mountain biking, flying on zip lines through the jungle canopy, snorkelling, diving, horse riding and white water rafting.
The Veragua Rainforest Research Adventure Park is definitely a highlight of any trip to Costa Rica, both from an educational and wow-factor perspective. Located less than one hour from the historic Caribbean town of Limón, the park houses the largest indoor nocturnal frog exhibit in the world, a butterfly garden, reptile vivarium, hummingbird garden, magnificent waterfalls, a fascinating tram ride through the rainforest canopy and spectacular walking trails through the primary rainforest.
Tortuguero Village is only accessible by sea or air which only adds to its magical appeal. Best known for the hordes of hatchling turtles that lurch across its dark sands, this is one of the most important nesting sites for the ‘green sea turtle’ which is one of only eight species of marine turtle.
It is also possible to see West Indian manatee (sea cow) swimming underwater and spider monkeys lurking in the undergrowth. A boat trip up the Tortuguero Canal, which runs parallel to the coastline from Puerto Limon to the Nicaraguan border, affords the chance to enjoy some spectacular scenery and get close to a variety of wildlife.
Parque Nacional Volcan Arenal as is obvious from the name, houses one of South America’s most active volcanoes. Whether you see any volcanic activity is largely down to the gods but you will certainly hear rumbling and feel the ground shake, especially at night. The park also contains excellent trails and a sunset boat cruise really exhibits the area in all its majestic beauty.
Costa Rica, both the country and its fun-loving people, will envelop you with a warm embrace that you will find hard to shake. El Gringos book your tickets now.