In Costa Rica, you can go crazy, while still enjoying the beauty of nature the entire time. Perhaps no other country on Earth has so many opportunities for thrills in the thick of the rainforest. In this article, we're going to run down 7 of the most exhilarating adventures that you can have in Costa Rica.
1. Rafting the Pacuare
Get your paddles ready and prepare yourself for a wet and wild ride on these class 4 rapids. The Pacuare River is one of the best places to white water raft in Costa Rica and the trip offers a great mix of wilderness, wildlife and excitement.
The Pacuare is a river gorge, flanked by deep, jungle-clad walls and it is world-famous for its jaw-dropping beauty. The rafting tour will have you whizzing through the virgin tropical rainforest amongst many different species of wildlife including toucans, coatis, morpho butterflies and tree sloths!
The white water is exciting, but it's not overly difficult. There are 52 rapids over an 18 mile stretch that will be enough to give even a seasoned rafter a good rush. You don't need to be a white water pro to hit these rapids, but a little bit of experience and a lot of courage is always recommended when careening down a river at full speed.
2. Diving Cocos Island
Before we get you too excited about this incredible diving locale, it's worth noting that you'll have to be an advanced diver to explore the reefs here. You'll also have to come with a pretty fat wallet and an affinity for sharks, which you'll be surrounded by during many of your dives.
Cocos Island is situated in the Golden Triangle, 550 km from the Costa Rican mainland. The island attracts all sorts of Scuba Divers from all over the world including underwater scientists, technical diving explorers and regular recreational divers.
Fast moving, nutrient rich currents converge here, attracting large swaths of pelagic life and plankton growth. If you consider yourself a hardcore diver, you should definitely strap on your gear at Cocos and explore this vibrant underwater wonderland.
3. Hiking Chirripó
Costa Rica's tallest mountain is no small feat to conquer, but it is a lovely hike that will challenge your endurance and reward you with spectacular views (on a clear day). You'll have to strap on your best hiking boots for this one because you'll be climbing 19 km up, past monkeys, birds and flowers in order reach the summit.
From the top of the mountain, you'll have spectacular views of both the Pacific and the Caribbean Ocean. Try to make it to Chirripó between February - March for the best weather and be warned that the trails are closed for 2 weeks in May and all of October each year for maintenance.
4. Fly Through The Rainforest
Strapping yourself into a harness, clipping onto a steel cable and soaring over the jungle on one of Costa Rica's famed zip-lines is probably the most exciting and memorable experiences that you can have in the country.
A canopy tour is CR's most advertised tourist attraction and for good reason. Dozens of platforms have been erected throughout the rainforest, each connected by thick cables that stretch across jungle covered ravines, valleys and gorges.
This type of zip line tour can be found in countries all over the world, but Costa Rica's rides are some of the best for those in search of extreme speed and stunning views from the cables. The tour has become ubiquitous throughout the country, but some great places include the Arenal Volcano, Montezuma Waterfall, and the Corcovado Rainforest.
5. Explore The Rainforest
Visiting Costa Rica and not exploring the rainforest would be like travelling to Mexico and not eating the food, or going to the Caribbean and missing out on all of the beaches. You simply need to explore some of the country's lush forests to get a feel for their beauty and tranquility.
You'll be able to swim in crashing waterfalls, picnic near gentle streams, spot unusual wildlife and even do a bit of rock climbing. Don't just hike around in the daytime either! Some of the best spottings can take place after nightfall when sloths, snakes, frogs, bats and spiders come out to play.
6. Walk Around A Volcano
Costa Rica finds itself trapped in the Pacific Ring of Fire, a long ridge of volcanic activity which stretches from Antarctica and the Americas all the way to Asia and the Philippines. As a result, the country has a plethora of volcanoes and a healthy dose of seismic activity.
There are five active volcanoes in the country and about a dozen others which are dormant, but not dead. You can climb, drive or even ride horses to the top of volcanoes such as Poas and Arenal.
You wouldn't want to get too close to Arenal unless you're lava-proof, but you can see the activity from the tiny town of La Fortuna. On a clear day, you'll be able to spot pools of hot lava slowly creeping down the side of the volcano near the cone.
7. Soak In A Hot Spring
You may think that a bath isn't really an adventure, but after completing the other 6 heart-pounding activities in this post, you'll probably want to chill out and relax for a bit. Plus, some of the hot springs in Costa Rica involve an adventurous hike to reach.
The mineral-rich waters that bubble from the Earth's surface can reach 105 degrees in some places and they are said to heal a variety of ailments including kidney disorders, skin conditions, cancer and arthritis.
The hot springs resorts of Baldi and Tabacon in La Fortuna are worth a visit. Both include numerous pools, ponds and waterfalls set amid lovely, green gardens. These can be busy though, so if you'd like a quieter bathing experience, head to Eco Termales which only allow 100 visitors to enter at a time.
If you want to get off the beaten path, ask locals for the secret hot springs that they frequent and you may make some new friends and explore some of the lesser known rainforest on the way.
Nick Wharton is one half of the couple behind Goats On The Road, and the bi-weekly travel column on CreditWalk. Their website is designed to show others how to turn their travels into a lifestyle. Masters at making money online and on the road, they've been travelling since 2008 and have explored some of the least visited places on earth, finding adventure wherever they go.
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