As you prepare for your upcoming holiday in Costa Rica, there are some important details to discover. For example, a commonly heard expression and greeting is “pura vida”, which translates to pure life. Some say it is the unofficial motto of the country of Costa Rica and is a reflection of this Central American nation’s dedication to its pristine wilderness and natural beauty.
This is one of the primary reasons that so many travelers head to the area; to experience the natural beauty for themselves. It is why ecotourism and sustainable travel have flourished here. One of the most biodiverse areas of the entire planet, it has allocated around one-third of the land to national parks or nature preserves. This promises to be good for the natural world but also to travelers eager to experience pura vida themselves.
Your Travel Plans
Visitors to the area will be able to enjoy a wealth of guided or non-guided natural adventures. While bird and whale watching are perennial favorites, you might also want to book visits to one of the “cloud forests” or take a guided river tour. You can also participate in programs or activities designed to protect sea turtles or visit one of the canopy walkways that take you above the tree tops in authentic rainforest settings. This is where a visitor might hear or see the howler monkeys native to the region or simply witness truly untouched and pristine nature.
So, whether you are staying in one of the green hotels or the premium villas or resorts, be sure that you book time to experience some of the ecotourism opportunities. To help you make the best choices, we’ll review a few of the top destinations. There are twenty parks and eight reserves at this time, and each is unique. The following suggestions, though, can give you a broad array of experiences.
Arenal Volcano National Park
If you want dramatic views and scenery, this is the place. It has an active volcano and you can often see the lava inside sending up its red glow into the canopy of clouds and mist so often shrouding the peak. Of course, there is more to see than the active volcano and the hiking trails here allow visitors to enjoy some of the most appealing native species. These can include tapir, wild pigs, monkeys and delicate little deer. The best time to visit is the dry season from February to April, but if you do book during the rainy season, be sure to bring a poncho to allow the best experience.
Tortuguero National Park
This is one of the most famous parks and home to the endangered sea turtle program. There are four varieties that nest here (hawksbill, giant leatherback, loggerhead and Pacific green) and they all have hatchings and nests on the site. Volunteers may be lucky enough to help transport eggs to the beaches or help gather data on the turtles themselves. This is a massive place and most of it is only viewable by boat, but it is well worth the effort and a must-see destination.
Monteverde Cloud Forest
This amazing reserve is high above sea level, home to more than 300 kinds of orchids, 400 kinds of birds and is perpetually enshrouded in mist. There are only 120 guests allowed in the park at any time, ensuring it remains pristine, and you can use the trails to experience the cloud forest at your own pace or book a guide to ensure you make the most of a visit.
Ecotourism is alive, well and thriving in Costa Rica. Be sure you save space in your schedule to experience some of these amazing sights during your stay.