WIN! An amazing trip to Costa Rica worth over £5,000
Absorb wildlife and local thrills with a healthy dose of adventure in Costa Rica
Hemmed in by the Caribbean Sea on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other, Costa Rica is an emerald sliver of diversity. Impressively, its rich, leafy swirl of wildlife (it’s home to 5% of the world’s biodiversity), landscapes, adventure and a friendly bunch of locals is packed into an area only slightly larger than Denmark; that compact size – along with its year-round delights and easy access (thanks to direct UK flights) – means its remarkable diversity is always at a visitors’ fingertips. As such, Costa Rica remains ideal for many kinds of traveller, especially those who simply want it all.
ADVENTURE IS HERE
You’re spoilt for choice in Costa Rica when it comes to landscape – a quarter of the country comprises natural protected territory – and perhaps the best way to tackle it is with a splash of adrenalin. Zip lines thread the rainforests of Manuel Antonio National Park, putting you nose-to-snout with two-toed sloths as well as red-backed squirrel and capuchin monkeys, while rafting down the gushing rapids of the Pacuare River offers yet another rush.
For a more gentle paddle, kayak the waters of Lake Arenal, overlooking its iconic namesake volcano – one of over 200 cones that are liberally sprinkled across the country. But exploring is just as fun on four legs – or wheels: Costa Rica’s beaches and jungle are perfect for adventures on horseback or even from behind the wheel on epic road trip.
The coastline is also dripping with adventure. The sandy curves of Marino Ballena National Park resemble a whale’s tail, which is apt given that humpbacks migrate to its tropical waters across much of the year (mid-jul–oct; Dec–mar), joined by dolphins, orca and hawksbill and leatherback turtles – though the best place for spotting the latter are the sands and waters of Tortuguero National Park. The nearby
Isla del Caño also offers marine thrills, as you dive or snorkel among its many manta rays and sharks.
Costa Rica’s wildlife and vistas may draw most travellers’ eyes, but its people (known as Ticos) are just as deserving of attention. A chief example is rugged Guanacaste: prime sabanero (cowboy) country. Here, denim-dressed men still fine-tune their lassoing skills in towns studding the Nicoya Peninsula – one of five ‘blue zones’ in the world (places where people live longer and healthier than anywhere else). Be sure to pick up some longevity tips while you’re there.
But to truly absorb Costa Rica’s enchanting pura vida (pure life) ethos, head to one of its festivals. Límon’s yearly carnival (usually Oct), for example, is a kaleidoscopic celebration of colourfully dressed locals bumping along to calypso and reggae beats during its parades. The fun doesn’t end there, either. Away from the parties, many cities across the country have a bustling network of street- food areas, with local favourites gallo pinto (rice and beans) and the Costa Rican take on ceviche (cured fish) both must-eats here.
This is a land wealthy with adventure, wildlife and culture, all of it neatly packed together for wide-ranging adventures. So grab yourself a taste of the pure life!