Tag: Costa Rica

National Parks in Costa Rica

National Parks in Costa Rica

Turrialba Volcano National Park

The Turrialba region is located 65 km east of San José, northwest of the city of Cartago.

The main attraction is the Turrialba volcano (3340 meters above sea level) and the neighboring Irazu volcano, which is why they are often called twin volcanoes. Volcano Turrialba includes three equally active craters. The central crater is the deepest (50 meters deep).

The average temperature in this area is +16°C.

Turrialba is the second largest and only volcano in Costa Rica, allowing you to descend into one of its three craters and observe secondary volcanic activity up close.
This high humidity region is a mosaic of primeval mountain forests, biological reserves and coffee plantations. It maintains a delicate balance between agricultural activities and the preservation of the environment. The scenic beauty, diversity of flora and fauna, rafting and kayaking opportunities make Turrialba a favorite destination for adventure travelers and nature explorers. Jungle and rainforest lovers will be attracted by numerous hiking trails. For those who prefer horseback riding and cycling, there are also excellent opportunities for outdoor activities.

Tortuguero National Park

Tortuguero National Park is a four hour drive from San José, or 254 km. This is an archipelago of volcanic islands in the Caribbean Sea with its own unique natural conditions. The park got its name after the name of the river of the same name, which flows in these places, has numerous branches, tributaries and canals.

Traveling through the canals, you can see giant iguanas, lizards perched on branches, vultures circling above the treetops, and crocodiles merging with the trunks of palm trees hanging over the smooth surface of the river. In the fog, constantly standing over the river, bats rush swiftly, hunting river fish on the fly.

The journey to Tortuguero usually starts by bus (or plane) from the capital and then continues by boat. Another way to get into the park is simply not provided by nature itself. There are no roads, as such, and civilization has not yet managed to get to these places.

The rivers flowing from the Sierra Mountains towards the Caribbean Sea have, over thousands of years, washed up many kilometers of sandy beaches, which have created unique conditions suitable for the breeding of large sea turtles. The very name of the river and the area is directly related to these amazing marine animals (in Spanish, the turtle is “tortuga” (tortuga)). 50,000 tourists visit Tortuguero every year to see the green turtles that lay their eggs on the park’s beaches from April to May.

For nature lovers, Tortuguero is a real paradise on Earth. Warm tropical rains, which occur regularly here, serve as the basis for a rich biosystem, which is further complicated by the confluence of fresh and salty sea waters. A marshy selva has formed here, which, in turn, creates unique natural conditions.

The national park provides tourists with all the known outdoor activities, but the highlight of your trip to Tortuguero will, of course, be a night sea turtle watching tour. When visiting the park, tourists also have the opportunity to go horseback riding, surfing and fishing in these protected areas. It is very interesting to visit the famous banana plantation “Chicita”.

Monteverde National Park

Monteverde Nature Reserve, located at an altitude of more than 1400 meters of the Tilaran volcanic cordillera, is famous throughout the world as one of the richest natural reserves in the tropical zone. The park includes six different natural areas. This is one of the richest natural reserves in the tropical zone. About 400 species of birds live in the forests of Monteverde, including the famous quetzal – the sacred bird of the Maya, about 100 species of mammals, 120 species of amphibians and reptiles, and about 2,500 species of plants that attract connoisseurs of tropical beauty. More than 400 species of white, purple and yellow orchids gracefully wrap around the trunks and branches of exotic trees.

The foggy forest of the park makes the hearts of biologists, ornithologists and ordinary people beat faster.
In the park there is an opportunity to walk along suspension bridges, and for fans of extreme sports – like Tarzan, make a “canopy tour”. For this, those who wish are suspended on a long metal rope stretched hundreds of meters above the jungle, which allows you to look at the beauty of the national park from a flight height, sometimes reaching up to 40 meters above the base. The traveler is dressed in safety gear, hung on a carbine to a rope, and the “hero” flies over the peaks, enjoying the views of the rainforest and watching its inhabitants from close.
In the vicinity of the reserve there are many hotels (lodges) where you can stay for a few days. At the entrance to the reserve there are feeders for hummingbirds, to which hundreds of these tiny birds flock during the day, nectar-eating bats at night, and after sunset, gray foxes and tree olingo raccoons come. In the mornings flock to feast on the fruits of trees – quetzals, black crabs and other rare birds. At night, you can see tree porcupines, jaguarundi cats.

Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park was created in 1972 and covers a very small area, which is estimated at about 683 hectares, being the smallest, but at the same time the most beautiful park in Costa Rica. The park is located 180 km from San Jose. The exclusivity of these places lies in the fact that this piece of land with the ocean is one of the most biologically rich regions in the world and offers the best scenery in all of Costa Rica.

Jungles full of exotic animals and birds, white sandy beaches, lush green vegetation surrounded by high mountains, secluded bays, islands and an amazing variety and colors of the underwater world – all these are the components of one of the most romantic places on Earth.

Everywhere there are capuchin monkeys, sloths, iguanas, agoutis, red forest crabs Manuel Antonio – this is a haven for migratory birds that feel great here. In addition to the marine species typical of these places, you can see dolphins and whales near the coast. In this little corner of Costa Rica, you can find an amazing adventure in the rainforest and relaxing on a magnificent beach.

Here, adventure lovers have the opportunity to take walks along the paths of the park, kayak excursions near the coast, horseback riding and fishing.

Mangrove swamps are one of the trump cards in Manuel Antonio’s deck of attractions. Overgrown canals, birds, crocodiles and other rare species of animals accompany tourists throughout a small educational expedition.

Not far from Manuel Antonio there is a whole complex of Damas underground caves. An organized visit to the underground corridors and halls is a real adventure that will add significant variety to your journey. The high arches of a hundred underground halls, stalactites and stalagmites, bats – all this is available for viewing under the vigilant eye of a trained escort. As an attached bonus – swimming in one of the natural underground pools filled with miraculous healing water, so that, in addition to amazing experiences, the descent into the realm of the Minotaur also has a therapeutic effect.

Arenal Volcano National Park

Arenal Volcano National Park, located in the northwest of the country, includes 8 of Costa Rica’s 12 ecological zones and 16 reserves between Guanacaste and the Tilaran mountain range. On the territory of the park there is Lake Arenal and two volcanoes: Chato, in the ruined crater of which an emerald lake was formed, and the Arenal volcano of an ideal conical shape (1633 m) is the main attraction of the park. Arenal is the most active volcano in Costa Rica, the top of which, however, is hidden in the clouds most of the time. In pre-Columbian times, Arenal was especially active, due to which the Indian tribes considered the volcano a sacred creature.
Today, in the Indian village of La Fortuna di San Carlos, located at the foot of the volcano, tourists from all over the world come to freeze in admiration at the sight of fiery lava flows running down the mountainside. However, not everyone can see the eruption, the volcano is often covered by clouds. According to the Indians, the air near the crater is healing, as it is saturated with vapors.

Arenal heats water for hot springs, on which entire cascades of pools, ponds, and waterfalls are built.

In the national park at an altitude of 1700m above sea level, there is an artificial lake of the same name – Arenal. Its area is 80 km2 and is the largest lake in Costa Rica. The lake is deservedly considered one of the best places on the planet for practicing this sport – the winds here are quite strong and constant, especially from April to December.

The climate in the Arenale region is milder and it rains less than in the rest of the country. The temperature can drop to +10 (in winter, night frosts down to -5 C are possible).

Costa Rica Arenal Volcano National Park

Costa Rica – World of Birds

Costa Rica – World of Birds

When the land bridge between North and South America formed millions of years ago, the animal world literally exploded. Probably no other country in the world has such a high biodiversity in such a small area as the Central American Costa Rica. In addition to over a hundred different species of amphibians and reptiles, the world of birds is certainly one of the most flashy and colorful. In Costa Rica you experience a real bombardment of colorful feathers, huge super beaks and grandiose chants.
Reason enough for us, here in our top 10 ranking, to introduce our favorite birds.

Costa Rica’s birds – 10th place: Sulfur mask tyrant

No sooner have you arrived in Costa Rica than you are greeted by the distinctive song of the sulfur masked tyrant. In English it was named after its reputation that makes it unmistakable: Kiskadee.
If you want to watch the bird, you should search the power lines. The Kiskadee also likes to poke fruit from the plate if he feels he is not being watched.

Costa Rica’s birds – # 9: Chachalaca

The most colorful representatives of the Costa Rican birds did not make it to number nine, but certainly the most entertaining ones. Long before you can see them, their shrill calls indicate their existence. When the sociable hens emerge from the undergrowth, you think you are in Jurassic Park. They look like little Archeopteryx and mostly the brown birds have just nonsense on their minds. Therefore, the Chachalacas, as they are also called, deserve to be in 9th position.

Costa Rica’s birds – 8th place: Naschvogel

Definitely one of the most dazzling phenomena that Costa Rica’s tropics have to offer are the birds of sweet tooth. With their hopelessly lavish color scheme, the small, colorful birds definitely not only cast a spell on ornithologists. Many nature enthusiasts discovered their love for ornithology through them. Our blue miracle: A worthy rank 8.

Costa Rica’s birds – 7th place: frigate bird

We briefly leave the dense forests and go to the coast of Costa Rica. Because this is where our next favorite bird is native: the frigate bird. Its long, pointed wings make it unmistakable. Although it feeds exclusively on fish, the frigate bird cannot swim. Because he specializes in chasing other seabirds until they choke the fish out for them. This gave the extremely fast and agile birds the name “pirates of the skies”. And something else special: During courtship time, the males inflate their red throat pouch, which can then easily reach the size of a football.

Costa Rica’s birds – 6th place: Montezuma-fronted bird

The Montezuma- fronted bird, or Oropendula, made it to our number 6. Like many other birds, you hear the oropendula before you see it. Its exotic and mystical sounding calls provide that real jungle feeling. It is always worth looking for the Montezuma-fronted bird, because in addition to its beautiful appearance, its courtship behavior is extremely interesting: While the male calls, he holds on to the branch and plopps down like a wet sack. Usually the bird repeats the whole thing about ten times. Really very extraordinary and therefore our deserved number 6.

Costa Rica’s birds – 5th place: Macaw

No other animal embodies more Caribbean and tropical feeling than the macaw. Hardly any pirate film can do without the colorful, feathered character animal. If you want to see two different species of macaws in the wild, Costa Rica is the place for you. Almost 30 years ago on the verge of extinction, the strict protection of these birds and various reintroduction programs have paid off. Today more and more of the colorful birds are flying around. On the Pacific coast, where many almond trees grow, the scarlet macaws are easy to see. The rarer Great Soldier Macaws are at home further inland.

Costa Rica’s birds – 4th place: harpy

Sharp claws, a head of feathers and the dream of every ornithologist: the harpy ! It is one of the largest and strongest birds of prey in the world. His hunting grounds are the dense forests, and sloths and monkeys are the main prey. He can spot them from a great distance before whizzing through the dense branches as fast as an arrow and precisely to kill them. The harpy lives very hidden, even some local guides have never seen the animal. Nevertheless: In the Manuel Antonio National Park the sightings are increasing. So keep your eyes open.

Costa Rica’s birds – 3rd place: Toucan

With its huge beak and colorful plumage, the toucan is one of the stars in the Costa Rican rainforest. The birds come in different types. The most beautiful of the toucans is probably the fishing toucan, or rainbow toucan. From yellow to green and red to blue – the large-billed bird calls all colors its own. In addition to the provocative appearance, the calls of the toucans are also unmistakable. There is little better than watching the colorful hustle and bustle of the toucans over a cup of coffee in the morning as they feast on fruit and other delicacies.

Costa Rica’s birds – 2nd place: Quetzal

The well-deserved silver medal in our top ten of Costa Rica’s birds goes to the Quetzal. The home of the Quetzal are the cloud forests of Costa Rica, where it usually leads a life in secrecy. In the morning, when it flies a little deeper into the valley, where wild avocado trees grow, you have a good chance of seeing the colorful bird. During courtship the male gets a green tail over a meter long. Its belly is bright red and the beak shines a wonderful yellow. The quetzal : a mystical bird that has to be seen!

Costa Rica’s birds – 1st place: hummingbird

The gold medal of the most beautiful birds in Costa Rica, deserves the shining jewels of the rainforest. No other bird is more fascinating in so many ways than the colorful hummingbird. The little bird’s heart beats up to 500 times per minute. The hummingbird’s special wingbeat allows it to even fly backwards. 54 different species of hummingbirds live in Costa Rica. Most of the lively birds can be found in the highlands. It is always worthwhile to sit down next to a flowering bush and watch the colorful hustle and bustle of the little birds. When the sun shines, their brightly colored feathers shine in all sorts of colors. Definitely our winners!

Of course, we don’t want to ignore the rest of the approximately 900 bird species that Costa Rica has to offer. In no other comparable country live more different birds. On our trips, you can discover the colorful jewels of the rainforest. Our guides are looking forward to showing you.

Costa Rica - World of Birds

Shopping and Eating in Costa Rica

Shopping and Eating in Costa Rica

According to AbbreviationFinder, Costa Rica is one of the countries in Central America.

Shopping in Costa Rica

This is not the country you go to for shopping. Most imported products, such as electronics and fashion clothing, are just as affordable in Europe, and with much better selection and opportunity to return any defective goods. But on other items you can make some bargains in Costa Rica. The leather products are generally of high quality and everything from belts, bags, suitcases and shoes are easily accessible. You also get very good prices for clothes that are manufactured locally or in neighboring countries, although that is not exactly the case for the catwalk.

Costa Rica’s largest export items are bananas and coffee. Banana clusters may not be the ideal souvenir to take home in your suitcase, but the local coffee is world class and affordable. This one will certainly offer you the purchase of coffee plantations that you visit, but it is often cheaper at supermarkets. Be sure to buy Puro, and not the blended, sugary Tradicional.

The craftsmanship that you will come across is both fine and colorful. Normally this is of high quality, but not infrequently the art of craftsmanship is imported from cheaper countries such as Panama and Guatemala, and is not really Costa Rican.

It may be tempting to buy a box of genuine Cuban cigars, which are sold all over Costa Rica at a fraction of the price in Europe. But keep in mind that if you fly home via the United States, you risk getting confiscated. Cuban products are illegal to bring into the United States, even if you only change plans there.

And by all means do not go into the trap of buying any plant or animal products, even though it is obviously for sale. You get stopped in customs with products of eg snake skin, lizard skin, protected plants, turtle or coral, so not only do you risk it, but you also deserve a juicy cure. Even small earrings or necklaces of the wrong material can get you in trouble. You also help to continue the hunt for endangered species.

Most stores in Costa Rica are open from 08:00 or 09:00 to 18:00 or 19:00 on weekdays and Saturdays. Sundays are mostly closed everywhere, except for some grocery stores in the larger cities. Even if you pay a 13% sales tax on all goods and services, there is no tax-free system to refund this upon departure.

Eating in Costa Rica

Food in Costa Rica

Don’t expect the great culinary experiences during your Costa Rica visit. The typical local dishes consist mostly of black beans and rice, often with various vegetables and some spices, with tortillas added. But in return, this food is both reasonably priced and available virtually anywhere.

However, the lowlands on the Caribbean coast have adopted the food culture of the Caribbean, primarily Jamaica, and here you can expect to serve several more exotic and tasty dishes. Naturally, seafood is more common here than in the Highlands.

If you do not want to experiment in the food when traveling, you will find in Costa Rica the same international chains as in the rest of the world. Both McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, KFC and TGI Fridays have found their way to the big cities, and you will always find a Chinese or Indian restaurant.

The country’s best restaurants can be found in the capital, San Jose, and it’s not particularly expensive, not even the most exclusive. You should be pretty extravagant to manage to spend over $ 300 on a meal if you avoid loosening imported wine bottles.

Coffee and other drinks in Costa Rica

Costa Rica coffee is world class and one of the country’s most important export products next to bananas. Almost everyone drinks coffee, including the kids. The coffee is usually served with milk and sugar, so ask for cafe negro its azucar (black coffee without sugar) if you prefer it black. Coffee is usually served only for breakfast and lunch, with hardly anyone drinking coffee late in the day.

Wine has no traditions in Costa Rica, but the local beer is light and tasty and is often drunk for food. The most common brands are Pilsen, Imperial and Bavaria. And watch out for the strong, glossy sugar liquor guaro.

There is often a very good selection of juices from tropical fruits that it may be long until the next time you have the opportunity to drink in freshly squeezed form, so go for it! Passion fruit, mango, papaya, pineapple and guava are just some of the tasty and healthy varieties that await.