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

Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - From The Road -

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.

PURA VIDA!

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!

Land of plenty ( clock­wise from this) Swim with myr­iad ma­rine life in Isla del Caño; kayak in sight of Mount Are­nal; join in on lo­cal fes­tiv­i­ties; ex­plore the beaches and forests of Manuel An­to­nio Na­tional Park; spy sloths and more

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