Covering just 0.03% of the earth’s land mass and with almost 4% of all the species on Earth calling Costa Rica home, the country certainly makes up for its size with the amount of wildlife and adventures waiting for you. Costa Rica has long attracted travelers from all over the world who are looking for adventurous activities, relaxation and to explore the country’s natural wonders.
Costa Rica’s one of the only countries in the world where in one day you can visit cascading waterfalls and steaming volcanoes in the morning, zip-line your way through the rainforest canopy in the afternoon before enjoying a nocturnal wildlife experience or watching the sunset on a heavenly beach.
Below is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to uncovering the highlights of Costa Rica as the country’s colorful wildlife, mind-blowing landscapes and undeniable beauty leaves plenty for you to come back to and explore again and again.
♦ Arenal: The Land of Volcanoes, Waterfalls & Hot-Springs
From wetlands and pastures to jungles and cloud forests, the northern lowlands of Costa Rica are home to some of the country’s most diverse landscapes.
The mighty Arenal Volcano rises up above the relatively flat scenery below and this now sleeping but not dormant volcano has become one of Costa Rica’s most notable natural features.
Since 2010, the Arenal Volcano has put a pause to its fiery eruptions although it still sends out the occasional tremor to add to the experience of traveling to see this impressive volcano and its surroundings.
What not to miss in Arenal: The Hanging Gardens of Arenal is one of the most thrilling experiences as you hike through the rainforest keeping an out for monkeys and tropical birds. A number of bridges take you through this complex and diverse ecosystem where along the way you will be rewarded with mind-blowing views of the Arenal Volcano and the expansive Arenal Lake. After a day exploring the magnificence of the Arenal landscape, nothing beats relaxing in luxurious natural hot springs listening to the sounds of the wildlife in the rainforest around you.
♦ Monteverde: Jewel in the Crown of Cloud Forest Reserves
Costa Rica’s famed coffee plantations sprawl across the slopes of the Central Highlands adding to the beauty of this mountainous region.
Towards the northwest of the region is the Monteverde Cloud Forest which National Geographic regards as the ‘Jewel in the Crown of Cloud Forest Reserves.’
The immense biodiversity of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is simply spell-binding and provides a stunning display of Costa Rica’s most sought-after flora and fauna.
What not to miss in Monteverde: Riding an open-air gondola through the tree tops to an unrestricted viewing platform as well as exploring the extensive network of canopy walkways and suspension bridges is one of the best experiences in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. With over 2,500 types of plants, monkeys, sloths and more than 400 species of bird you will be happily ticking off Costa Rica’s weird and wonderful wildlife from your list. One of the most exhilarating ways to get back down to ground level is flying through the Monteverde Canopy on one of Costa Rica’s longest zip-lines stopping along the way to soak up the fascinating world and activity of the Cloud Forest.
♦ The Osa Peninsula: Costa Rica’s Untouched Paradise
The South Pacific Region of Costa Rica has the largest prehistoric rainforest on the Central American Pacific coast. Within the Osa Peninsula lies the wildlife treasure chest of Costa Rica known as the Corcovado National Park which is not only the largest National Park in Costa Rica but has 10% of the mammals found in the Americas.
One of the few untouched corners of the world, the Osa Peninsula has over 400 species of birds and all 4 of Costa Rica’s species of monkeys.
As well as being the last true wild frontier of Costa Rica, the Osa Peninsula also has some of Costa Rica’s most pristine beaches where you can relax, soak up the sun and watch breath-taking sunsets over the Pacific Ocean.
What not to miss in the Osa Peninsula: Your day of activity exploring the wonders of the Osa Peninsula certainly doesn’t end once the sun goes down as the mysterious sounds of the nocturnal wildlife begin to take over. There is nowhere better in Costa Rica to do a nocturnal nature walk than in the Osa Peninsula. Due to its sheer natural diversity, the nocturnal wildlife on offer is just as resplendent as what you will see during the day. With your senses heightened at night and the mysterious noises of the rainforest around you feeding your imagination and thirst for adventure, it is an unforgettable wildlife experience.
♦ Tortuguero: The Land of Turtles
The Caribbean coast of Costa Rica is sometimes referred to as the ‘other Costa Rica’ as it is extremely different in terms of culture, history, climate and activities to the Pacific side of the country. Costa Rica’s vibrant Caribbean coastline is a unique blend of exotic and adventurous nature reserves as well as offering relaxing, heavenly tropical beaches.
The Tortuguero National Park is one of the world’s most important nesting sites of the green sea turtle and the area is home to 4 of the world’s 8 species of sea turtles.
Although less developed and with fewer tourists, the Caribbean side of Costa Rica provides an exciting, laid-back and authentic experience which should not be overlooked.
What not to miss in Tortuguero: Tortuguero can be translated to mean the ‘Land of Turtles’ and it is the best place in the world to enjoy seeing newborn and old turtles in their natural habitat. The long, deserted and pristine Caribbean beaches of the Tortuguero National Park are the perfect nesting grounds for green sea turtles, leatherback turtles, hawksbill turtles and loggerhead turtles. If you’re visiting Tortuguero from July to October you have to visit the beaches on an evening turtle tour to see the turtles come ashore to lay their eggs or if you’re lucky enough, watch the new hatchlings take their firms steps.
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