Costa Rica

All trails seem to lead to waterfalls, misty crater lakes or jungle-fringed, deserted beaches. Explored by horseback, foot or kayak, Costa Rica is a tropical choose-your-own-adventure land.

Outdoor Adventures
Rainforest hikes and brisk high-altitude trails, rushing white-water rapids and world-class surfing: Costa Rica offers a dizzying suite of outdoor adventures. They come in every shape and size – from the squeal-inducing rush of a canopy zip line to a sun-dazed afternoon at the beach. National parks allow visitors to glimpse the seething life of the tropical rainforest, simmering volcanoes and cloud forests offer otherworldly vistas, and reliable surf breaks are suited to beginners and experts alike. Can’t decide? Don’t worry, you won’t have to. Given the country's diminutive size, it’s possible to plan a relatively short trip that includes all of the above.

The Pure Life
And then there are the people. Costa Ricans, or Ticos as they prefer to call themselves, are proud of their little slice of paradise, welcoming guests to sink into the easygoing rhythms of pura vida (the pure life) – every bit as much a catchy motto as it is an enduring mantra. With the highest quality of life in Central America, all the perfect waves, perfect sunsets and perfect beaches seem like the pure life indeed.

The Peaceful Soul of Central America
As the eco- and adventure-tourism capital of Central America, Costa Rica has a worthy place in the cubicle daydreams of travelers around the world. With world-class infrastructure, visionary sustainability initiatives and no standing army, the country is a green, peaceful jewel of the region. Taking into account that more than a third of the land enjoys some form of environmental protection and there’s greater biodiversity here than in the USA and Europe combined, it’s a place that earns the superlatives.

The Wild Life
Such wildlife abounds in Costa Rica as to seem almost cartoonish: keel-billed toucans ogle you from treetops and scarlet macaws raucously announce their flight paths. A keen eye will discern a sloth on a branch or the eyes and snout of a caiman breaking the surface of a mangrove swamp, while alert ears will catch rustling leaves signaling a troop of white-faced capuchins or the haunting call of a howler monkey. Blue morpho butterflies flit amid orchid-festooned trees, while colorful tropical fish, sharks, rays, dolphins and whales thrive offshore – all as if in a conservationist's dream.

Corcovado National Park, Famously labeled by National Geographic as ‘the most biologically intense place on earth,’ this national park is the last great original tract of tropical rainforest in Pacific Central America. The bastion of biological diversity is home to Costa Rica’s largest population of scarlet macaws, as well as countless other endangered species, including Baird’s tapir, the giant anteater and the world’s largest bird of prey, the harpy eagle. Corcovado’s amazing biodiversity has long attracted a devoted stream of visitors who descend from Bahía Drake and Puerto Jimenez to explore the remote location and spot a wide array of wildlife.

Tortuguero, Flashes of heat lightning pierce the darkness as we hunker down in the black sand dunes on the Caribbean shore of Tortuguero. Directly in front of us, illuminated only by a dim red light held by our guide, an enormous green turtle rocks back and forth as she lays nearly 100 glistening eggs in a nest she labored for two hours to make.

The region of Tortuguero seems like a world apart from the mountains and waterfalls of central Costa Rica: only accessible by boat or plane, the namesake town and national park remain tucked away in an intricate, steamy tangle of fresh-water canals and tropical foliage. Sandwiched between a calm lagoon and the volcanic beaches along the Caribbean Sea, the area is home to a wide variety of wildlife as well as a unique and inviting coastal culture.

The river grows wilder with every meter: snowy egrets perch in low-hanging branches, crocodiles soak up the hot sun on the sandy riverbanks, and caimans, their smaller cousins, slide through the marshy brush. La Suerte eventually dead-ends into the Tortuguero River, which in turn leads to the lagoon that serves as the aqua-highway for the region. You’ll soon get used to how quiet this place is: no cars, no buses, just the occasional hum of a boat's motor and the low roar of ocean waves.

A tropical menagerie: meeting monkeys, turtles and sloths

Tortuguero has no shortage of wildlife, and even the unluckiest of spotters will stumble upon a local creature at some point: turtles crisscross the beaches, sloths occasionally visit ecolodges and fluorescent frogs come out of hiding once the sun goes down.



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