Costa Rica conjures up images of swathes of rugged, verdant jungle and mystical cloud forests teeming with wildlife – and it definitely does not disappoint. At roughly five times smaller than the UK and with a population of less than five million, this country has become a hub of ecotourism and is one of the most intriguing and biodiverse counties you could ever hope to visit. Here are five reasons we love this beautiful slice of Central America (and why we think you’ll love it too)…
Costa Rica is a haven for more than 500,000 varieties of wildlife – nearly 6% of the world’s estimated total species. Here you have repeated opportunities to boost your wildlife sightings. Catch a glimpse of the tiny hummingbird as it flits from plant to plant. Spot lurid green tree frogs, vibrant butterflies and noisy howler monkeys in the forests. And, of course, spy the infamous sloth as it moves gently from tree to tree. One of the best ways to get up close with the wide variety of natural flora and fauna is by boat or guided walk along the exotic Tortuguero Canals. Be sure to stop and listen to the array of sounds of the rainforest as you explore the depths of the living jungle.
“As an added benefit, I’ve organised a UK tour manager and a specialist Costa Rican naturalist guide to accompany each of our tours. It means you’ll enjoy local insight and expertise, as well as having the security of your tour manager ensuring that everything runs absolutely perfectly behind the scenes.” Cassie, Product Manager
With six active and 61 dormant volcanoes, these giants loom over the trees, giving Costa Rica’s landscape a rugged and dramatic feel. At a height of 1633 metres, Arenal is the country’s best known and most visited volcano. A truly breathtaking sight unlike any other, the volcano’s imposing presence stands tall as a backdrop to the vivid green canopy below. Enjoy stunning views of the volcano and perhaps a dip in the natural hot springs that many of the local lodges offer.
Among Costa Rica’s most unique and fascinating natural wonders are the enchanting Cloud Forests. The clouds, often likened to fog, only develop within a tropical, mountainous atmosphere and the dense coverage creates a humid and unique environment below for over 1,700 species of wildlife. The Monteverde Cloud Forest has more than eight miles of trails to explore and is also one of the last remaining habitats to provide for all six species of the big cat family. A fantastic way to experience the solitude of this majestic forest is by doing a skywalk – a trail made up of hanging bridges and platforms that allow you to peer through and across the lush canopy.
“Unique wildlife and scenery combined with some fantastic (and authentic) accommodation options means you can really discover the true beauty of this country, without sacrificing on comfort. I’m heading to Costa Rica later this year myself – maybe see you there!” Cassie, Product Manager
Local fare is known for its mild taste and fresh ingredients and is well worth a try. Casado is a plated dish consisting of the staples in Costa Rican cuisine – rice and black beans. It’s also served with plantain, salad and tortilla and can be found almost everywhere in the country. If you’re feeling particularly traditional, chifrijo is a tasty combination of rice, pork and pico de gallo mixed together, and can be eaten as a quick bar snack with tortilla chips. Batidos or refrescos are smoothies that can be made with or without milk and appear on virtually every menu. They are a great way to try different and unusual fruits and flavours such as cas (guava), chan (a water-soaked seed best served con leche) or even the spiky guanabana (soursop).
Lastly, no trip to Costa Rica is complete without a taste of the country’s main export – coffee. The eight coffee-growing regions of Costa Rica produce a rich and full bodied brew thought to be among the best in the world (presumably because it’s actually illegal to produce any type of coffee other than 100% Arabica). Tres Rios is the smallest of the coffee-growing regions but its flavour is one of the biggest, producing a unique blend grown in soil enriched with minerals from the Irazu volcano.
All in all, a visit to Costa Rica is certainly a trip you will never forget. To find out more about what you can discover with us, take a look at our ‘Natural Wonders of Costa Rica’ tour.