In the heart of Central America tucked between the Caribbean and the Pacific, Costa Rica is an adventure traveller’s paradise. Ecotourism is huge here, bridging the gap between full wilderness adventures and safe but never dull travelling. Exploring the diversity of this remarkable country has never been easier or more fun with one (or more) of these amazing adventures.
Explore a Forest
Characterized by high rainfall and a wealth of biodiversity, the rainforests of Costa Rica are almost magical with towering trees laced together by looping vines. The forests here are peaceful and beautiful, hiding gorgeous waterfalls just over the hill and trickling streams that add gentle background music to the adventure. Both night and day walks are advised to see the unusual wildlife such as the three-toed sloth, bats, snakes and howler monkeys.
Scale a Volcano
One of the countries that make up the ring of fire, the volcanoes in Costa Rica aren’t just fascinating, many are active. Five of the volcanoes are too dangerous to hike to the cone and are best seen from a safe distance but dozens of others are open for climbing. Arenal, the most active peak, spews glowing tendrils of lava much of the time can but be scaled part way safely. Begin at La Fortuna which also provides stunning views of the smoking cone and find a guide that knows the area. Trek to the upper regions of the volcano and explore the cloud forests to see the gorgeous birds that live there.
Ride the Rapids
Costa Rica is rife with rapids, offering enough roiling rivers to satisfy even the pickiest of raft riders. With all the wide flowing rivers throughout the country, novice and mid-level rafters will also find dozens of places to hone their skills. Easy family paddles can be found in slow-moving rivers such as the Corobici and Sarapiqui while the more adventurous will want to head straight for the Reventazon River whose name even means “bursting waves”. The Pacuare is also a challenge and is considered to be one of the best rafting rivers in the world. Not only is it a scenic route through deep canyons and jungle, the water is delightfully warm and inviting for a swim after a day of rafting.
Trek through the Jungle
Thick, lush jungle is found everywhere in the country, often right behind your hotel or at the end of the street. You could take a short walk through the foliage to get a feel of the jungle but a better plan is to arrange a full safari. Tortuguero National Park in the northeast part of Costa Rica is a vast network of black-water canals and beaches. It’s only accessible by boat or plane and is incredibly diverse, providing 11 unique habitats for wildlife. A well-planned safari often lets visitors see more unusual wildlife such as tapirs, jaguars and the alligator-like caiman. Along the beaches the hawksbill, leatherback and Caribbean green sea turtles nest all year long and brilliantly coloured macaws soar overhead.
Catch a Wave
The best surfing in South America is along the coast of Costa Rica, especially for those at mid-level. Tamarindo is a bit of a party town but with everything a surfer needs including gear rental, boats for hire and huge summer swells. More experienced wave-riders will want to head southwest to check out Pavones and some of the longest left breaks in the world. No parties here – this is where serious surfers come to spend the summer.
Protecting the environment is important here, and that ethos extends out to sea. The tropical climate encourages a wonderland of marine life and with two long coastlines, there is always something new to find. The coral reefs are teeming with brightly-hued fish in the thousands and the biodiversity under the surf is just as varied as that in the jungles. Even snorkelers will have an amazing time in the crystal-clear waters where starfish and sand dollars can be seen on the seafloor below scores of parrotfish, puffers, barracudas and more.
Have you been to Costa Rica? Which activities filled your itinerary?
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