COSTA RICA

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Monte Verde & Santa Elena: 10.284000, -84.840000
Parque Nacional Volcan Arenal: 10.452334, -84.721107
Parque Nacional Volcan Tenorio: 10.658282, -84.971351
Parque Nacional Rincon de la Vieja: 10.786930, -85.292938
Bahia Drake: 8.672767, -83.613557
Parque Nacional Corcovado: 8.540835, -83.570964
Parque Internacional La Amistad: 9.407100, -82.938800
Parque Nacional Tortuguero: 10.448877, -83.506923
La Virgen: 10.401567, -84.134279
Language: Spanish Packlist
Currency: Costa Rican Colón (CRC) Eco-Lodges
Size: 51,100 km² / 19,653 mi² Favorite Restaurants
Landscape: rainforest, lakes, rivers, mountains, lowlands, beaches, islands, volcanos
Activities: hiking, wildlife watching, swimming, surfing

For many people, Costa Rica is synonymous with ecotourism. It was one of the first countries to promote the richness of its diverse flora and fauna and is known for its progressive environmental policies. Costa Rica is one of the most stable, prosperous and progressive nations in Central America, and the government has recently announced plans to become the first carbon-neutral country in the world. While Costa Rica has only about 0.1% of the world’s landmass, it contains 5% of the world’s biodiversity. Luckily, around 25% of Costa Rica is in protected area and national parks, saved for future generations. Here, one can still find rare species that are hard to find anywhere else in the world. The country’s population is a diverse mix of different ethnic groups who live in peace with each other and the world. This tranquility is reflected in the fact that Costa Rica is one of only a few sovereign nations without a standing army.

TOP SPOTS IN COSTA RICA

1. MONTE VERDE AND SANTA ELENA

If you are looking for a rainforest adventure in Costa Rica, look no further. The area around Monte Verde and Santa Elena is home to many reserves where you can view local wildlife. Look for the elusive resplendent quetzal, sloths, or toucans and take a dip in some of the beautiful waterfalls.

2. PARQUE NACIONAL VOLCAN ARENAL

Over the years, Volcano Arenal has been known for its fiery displays, but even if you don’t get to see spectacular red-hot lava running down its slopes, there’s plenty to marvel at. Jungle hikes, waterfalls, or volcano Chato with its crater lake provide countless opportunities to enjoy the area and its diverse flora and fauna. After a long day’s trekking, be sure to sit back and relax in one of the many hot springs here.

3. PARQUE NACIONAL VOLCAN TENORIO

A hidden treasure, this national park has a series of old, inactive volcanos. Unlike some of the more popular destinations, there’s not a lot of infrastructure here, and it’s not easy to reach. That means you can not only have it all to yourself, but you’ll also find a blissfully pristine rainforest abundant with wildlife. Be sure to visit Rio Celeste — a milky-blue river with an incredible waterfall, a blue lagoon and several hotsprings.

4. PARQUE NACIONAL RINCON DE LA VIEJA

In spite of its proximity to Liberia, this park feels refreshingly uncrowded and remote. In addition to the steamy central volcano towering 1,916 m /6,286 ft above sea level, there are several dormant peaks, and you can also see and feel the geothermal energy in the multihued fumaroles, hot springs, mud pods and little, young volcanoes. It’s best to explore the region by foot, hiking the many trails that lead to swimming holes, waterfalls and a small lagoon. Or you can find a nice perch and enjoy  the view of the Golfo de Nicoy while waiting for one of the rare, local tapirs to stop by.

5. BAHIA DRAKE

Jungle-fringed crystal-clear waters make this extremely remote location a stunning place to see wildlife. Watch monkeys jump across the canopy, scarlet macaws soar between the treetops or migrating dolphins play in the sea. You can also go horseback riding or simply chill and relax on the beautiful beaches.

6. PARQUE NACIONAL CORCOVADO

The Osa Peninsula is a gem, and Parque Nacional Corcovado is one of its highlights. It’s a top wildlife-watching spot that’s well off the tourist trail. If you’re keen hiker, you can wander along the trails in the deep rainforest for days. Look out for tapirs, sloths, anteater, scarlet macaws, monkeys and more. During your trek, be sure to cool off in some of the many beautiful waterfalls along the way.

7. PARQUE INTERNACIONAL LA AMISTAD

This park was jointly established by Costa Rica and adjacent Panama, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Though most of it is at high altitude and inaccessible, there are plenty of trails to hike in the lower parts. You’ll find several different vegetation zones here, including cloud forests. Thanks to the magnitude and the remote nature of the jungles here, this national park is home to a great variety of endangered species which includes several big cats like jaguars and pumas.

8. PARQUE NACIONAL TORTUGUERO

Hop on a boat to explore the many lazy lagoons and meandering rivers that make up this remarkable wilderness area. Besides sloths and caimans, you can also see abundant birdlife. Even more remarkable,  witness the nesting and hatching of green and leatherback turtles on the many secluded beaches here.

9. LA VIRGEN

This area in the northern lowlands of Costa Rica is a haven for white water kayakers and rafters. The amazing rivers in this part of the country take you through beautiful gorges and jungle, and like most of Costa Rica, wildlife along the river banks is abundant.