Costa Rica

Cost Rican Trails ©

Introduction

Situated directly between North and South America, Costa Rica is a country of intense diversity. With influences from both the nearby United States and the predominantly Latin culture to the south, this is a country of distinct variety; matched only by its wonderous geography and diverse climate.

Due to the large variety in climate and weather, Costa Rica is home to no fewer than 12 distinctive ecological zones; from cloud forests, rainforests, mangroves and dry forests to the wide expanse of beautiful sand at Tamarindo Beach; a surfer’s paradise where the rolling tides of the pacific make for perfect half-pipes.

Tamarindo is just one of Costa Rica’s many famed beaches; over 600 miles of unspoiled can be found, on both Pacific and Caribbean shores, to suit any sun-worshippers taste.

From the Pacific Northwest, running South-Easterly across the countries spine, can be found one of Costa Rica’s stand out features. Numbering over 100, Costa Rica is home to some of the world’s most spectacular volcanoes. The Irazu rises a towering 3,432 metres above the rainforest and offers spectacular panoramic views. Despite its height, a trip to the summit can easily be planned into a single day. In addition, the famous Arenal offers sightseers a glimpse of the quintessential volcano; a perfect cone of fire and flame which erupted almost continually from 1968 to 2010.

The expansive rainforest is home to a wide variety of animal life; nearly 900 bird species alone. Jaguars, ocelots and pumas are just a few of the exotic species that can also be found beneath the dense forest canopy. There are numerous tours available for the adventurous minded to get up close to the local wildlife, making Costa Rica the perfect destination for those who wish to combine nature with some adventure alongside beach relaxation.

Another reason to visit Costa Rica is its people. Often referred to as “Tico’s”, Costa Ricans are renowned for their open, friendly nature. A great way to interact with the locals is to visit one of the numerous, famous markets dotted across the country such as Mercado Central, in the capital of San Jose. Here, you will be able to sample local produce and interact directly with Costa Rica’s rich heritage and culture.

With such a unique country to call home, it can be of little surprise to learn that Costa Ricans are a people very much committed to the conservation of their natural resources. Over 40% of the land mass resides within national parks and reserves. This commitment to preservation ensures that any visitor to the country will be able to experience a vast, diverse land with a unique sense of remaining untouched for future generations to enjoy.

For those looking for an adrenaline-fuelled, adventurous trip of a lifetime there is much on offer in Costa Rica. From Whitewater rafting and kayaking, to rappelling, hiking or ziplining through the mountainous jungle, there is something to quench every thirst for excitement. Looking for something a little more sedate? The clear oceans provide a perfect location for snorkelling; taking a relaxing look at the varied underwater life as it passes you by. If you want to feel your spirits soar, you can be lifted high above the rainforest canopy to get a birds-eye view of this beautiful country; gently aided by the tropical winds in a hot air balloon. Before you leave, be sure to head out into the deep to witness the countries largest visitor; the majestic humpback whale. These titans visit the Osa Peninsula regularly so be sure to pay them a visit as they leap from the waves in an awesome show of power. There really is something for everyone!

The Basics

Capital: San Jose
Population: 4,933,640
Area: 51,100sq km
Language: Spanish but English is widely spoken
Currency: Costa Rican Colon

Best Time to Visit

March – September – Caribbean Coast
December – April – Pacific Coast
May, June & November – Green Season
July – November – Humpback Whales,Pilot Whales & dolphins – Osa Peninsula

Hightlights

  • Its people - "Ticos," as Costa Rican's are known, are very open and very friendly towards everyone
  • Volcanoes - Costa Rica has 110 volcanoes and 5 remain active can be visited and some have access to the main crater.
  • Beaches – With more than 600 miles of unspoiled tropical beaches Costa Rica offers beaches on both in the Caribbean and on the Pacific.
  • Nature – Within just one hour walk in a National Park you have the chance to see an incredible amount of Wild Life that you will not see in any other place in Central America.
  • Diversity – Experience changes in climate, temperature, forest, development and landscape within a very small area. In the morning you can be at sea level and at 11000 feet high in the afternoon.
  • Sustainability - Costa Rica is very much committed to conservation of their natural resources and protects 40% of their territory in national parks, biological and wildlife reserves.
  • Family - "Costa Rica is great for Families and it is considered one of the best family oriented destinations. The country offers the most interactive classroom for kids!
  • Honeymoon –  Delivering an exotic environment, captivating unspoilt beaches, a romantic culture and Natures wild side it is the perfect hideaway for couples.
  • Adventure – Costa Rica is perfect for adventure: Whitewater rafting, kayaking, rappelling, hiking, horseback riding, snorkeling, canopy, ballooning, and much more

Food and Drink

The food and drink in Costa Rica is heavily influences by Spanish flavours. A few traditional Costa Rican dishes to try include;

  • The national dish of Costa Rica is Gallo pinto, which has a literal meaning of "spotted rooster", is
  • Bocas, or boquitas, are Costa Rican-style appetizers, consist of a small portion of a dish typically served at a main meal
  • Ceviche is a dish made up of raw fish and seafood that can include octopus, shrimp, shellfish, tilapia, dorado, dolphin and sea bass
  • Chicharrón is fried, crispy pork, popular in bars and with locals
  • Olla de carne, or "pot of beef", is a stew that comes from the Spanish influences in post-colonial era Costa Rica

When it comes to drinks, Costa Ricans love;

  • Coffee, already one of the largest exports of Costa Rica.
  • Refrescos is the local name for bottled soft drinks
  • The most commonly served alcoholic drink in Costa Rica is beer

Central Valley

The Central valley possesses a unique ecology; situated between towering mountain ranges, small valleys, and even three active volcanoes and is a great hub; somewhere to make base for exploring the country. There is easy access to visit volcanoes, rainforest and coffee plantations.

Bajo del Toro

Bordering the Nicaragua to the north, Alajuela Province is centrally located and home to Costa Rica’s second city, after which the region is named. Home to many of Costa Rica’s famed national parks, Alajuela is a region steeped in adventure and experience. Located on the outskirts of one of the largest of the national parks – Juan Castro Blanco – can be found Bajos del Toro.

A relatively unknown tourist destination, Bajos del Toro enjoys a location like no other; lying in a picturesque valley between the towering peaks of Poas and Viejo volcanoes. The resort is located within one of Costa Rica’s famed cloud forests and is therefore home to abundant natural wildlife. Rivers and streams zig-zag across the regions rugged hills and valleys, creating natural splendours such as the Cataratas del Toro. One of Costa Rica’s hidden secrets, this roaring torrent features a drop of over 300 feet and is a sight not to be missed.

Turrialba and Pacuare

Set in the lush Central Valley, Turrialba is a scenic town with stunning views of the local countryside. Just over 50km due east of the capital San Jose, the area is ideally placed for visitors to enjoy both sides of Costa Rica; both the tropical forests and countryside as well as the cultural hotspot that is San Jose, with bars, restaurants and art galleries in abundance.

Popular local activities involve white water rafting and visiting the pre-Columbian ruins at Guayabo. Turrialba National Park can be easily accessed and features wonderful panoramic views of the volcano that gives its name to the reserve.

San Gerardo De Rivas

Located high up in the Talamanca Mountains, San Gerrardo de Rivas is a small town perched close to the country’s highest peak; Cero Chirripo.
The village is nearly 130km to the south-east of the capital, San Jose, and resides within the South Central region of Costa Rica. Close by to the Chirripo River, San Gerardo de Rivas is a popular destination for visitors looking to take part in white-water rafting and kayaking. The river originates from the nearby lake Chirripo, a source located in the Valle de Los Lagos and fed from a glacier that was formed during the most recent ice age of 25,000 years ago.

Osa Peninsula

One of the most biologically diverse locations on Earth, the Osa Peninsula is home to the densest population of many of Costa Rica’s indigenous species, including Scarlet Macaws, Tapirs and Jaguars.

Located on the south-western coast, the peninsula welcomes some of the largest migratory species of marine wildlife on the continent, such as Humpback Whales and Giant Sea Turtles. This region remains almost entirely untouched and secluded, with very few public roads to break up the immense forests. The Corcovado National Park remains entirely without roads and is home to at least thirteen major ecosystems, making it the ideal location to experience an unspoilt and untouched Costa Rica.

Osa Peninsula

Set around the lurid blue river that gives this region its name, the Rio Celeste is steeped in beautiful natural majesty. Winding through the foothills of Tenorio Volcano Natural Park, this is an area where vibrant rainforest gives way to stunning waterfalls at seemingly every turn.

Accommodation

Kurá Design Villas - Osa Peninsula

Located in a prime position atop a mountain on the cusp of Ballena National Park, Kura Design Villas perfectly blends bold and stylish architecture with a breathtaking panorama of the Pacific Ocean. With contemporary guest areas to compliment the astonishing views, Kura Design Villas is the perfect retreat for honeymooners and those looking to seek sanctuary amongst pure luxury.

Nayara Hotel, Spa & Gardens - Arenal

Located around 90km north of the capital, San Jose, and home to one of Costa Rica’s most famed volcanoes, Arenal is a region steeped in natural beauty. Based around the prominent feature of Arenal Volcano – a strato-volcano that is one of the most active on the planet – the region is abundant in natural wonder, such as the nearby Lake Arenal of Fortuna Waterfall.

Rio Celeste Hideaway - Rio Celeste

Set in a 500-acre cloud forest, El Silencio Lodges lives up to its name and delivers a heady mix of quiet isolation and exuberant luxury. With fifteen rustic villas spread over its immense footprint, visitors are left in peace to sample and enjoy the romance and intimacy of this wonderful country. Each villa comes with generously proportioned windows and a vast deck from which to watch the world pass gently by.

Pacuare Lodge - Turrialba and Pacuare

Set across an expansive 840 acre rainforest reserve, Pacuare Lodge fuses together elements of high octane adventure and exploring within a quietly refined and luxurious setting of a contemporary retreat.
Located on the banks of the Pacuare river, your adventure begins the moment you step off of the plane and into the tropical Costa Rican climate. In order to reach the lodge, guests must first partake in a half-day of rafting down the Pacuare river. Sights along the way include narrow canyons and dense rainforest, through which local wildlife can occasionally be glimpsed amongst the tropical canopy.

Activities

White Water Rafting – Central Valley

Head to the Pacuare River for your Whitewater rafting tour. The river is ranked as one of the top five rivers in the world to whitewater raft on. With your guide you will navigate the river and enjoy this fast paced adventure whilst enjoying the stunning scenery that Costa Rica has to offer. As well as riding the rapids you will have a chance to explore and enjoy a short hike to waterfalls and to view some of the local wildlife that lives along the river bank.

Canyoning and Canopy - Central Valley

An exciting chance to try canyoning which included a chance to rappel down waterfalls, zip-line through the treetops, and walk across a 132 foot hanging bridge within the canyons of Calle Chirraca. An amazing and fun and also experiencing the natural scenery of the area.

Irazu Volcano - Central Valley

Situated a short distance from San Jose head to one of the many volcanoes and hike to the summit of Irazu Volcano. On your journey up you will walk through coffee plantations and local vegetation. You will be rewarded by views of the massive crater and you will spot the mysterious green lagoon. On a clear day you will be able to see both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans!

Kayaking Tours – South Pacific

What better way to explore the area than heading out by kayak. You will head off with your guide and paddle to a reef located in the south Pacific. Whilst paddling you will enjoy views of the mountains and the coastline of Costa Ballena. Once you reach the reef you will be able to explore underwater by snorkel the area that is knows locally as the Whale’s Tail, one of Costa Rica's best snorkelling spots.

Rain Forest - Northern Zone

Head to the rain forest of Braulio Carrillo National Park, known for the natural richness. Get to the see the area by boat for a relaxing ride on the Sarapiqui River and keep watch for the numerous inhabitants including the three toed sloths high in the trees. Then continue by foot within Selva Verdes private trails which are a heaven for bird and wildlife.

There are plenty of other activities that you could consider including in your itinerary – just speak to a travel designer for some inspiration and ideas!

Flights

Flights are not included as part of this quotation. We can assist you with getting a quote for the flights that best coincide with your itinerary to the most relevant airports or if you would prefer to book independently then that is also fine. This gives you greater flexibility to choose your preferred carrier or use air miles should you wish to use them.

Prices

The price for this example itinerary starts from £4985per person based on 2 adults travelling including all activities and transfers mentioned. This does not include any of the international or internal flights needed for this itinerary. Should you wish to get a personalised quotation for your specific dates then please let our team know who will be happy to put together your perfect trip!

Get in touch with us today for a truly tailor-made quote!

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