If for centuries all roads in the Old World led to Rome, then all highways, trails and dirt roads in Costa Rica lead directly to the realm of wild nature, relict forests, thunderous waterfalls, misty lakes hidden at the bottom of extinct craters of volcanoes, or, at least, directly to the jungle.
This direction is “number one” in Central America for ecotourism and adventure tours.
When you get here, you are tired from a long flight and the crazy life of Russian cities. When you leave, you have tears in your eyes, scratches on your legs, a lot of energy and strength that it is almost unbelievable.
It is difficult to distinguish only one region or style of recreation in Costa Rica: everything is fascinating here. And calm, not quite typical of Latin America, lifestyle that locals call Pura Vida (“pure life”), and quiet corners of pristine paradise, lost somewhere in the wilderness of national parks, and perfect for surfing waves, and stunning beaches with sunsets that even “photoshop” will not be able to embellish. And all this is accompanied by well-developed infrastructure.
How you can fly there:
I decided to fly from Rome, because the tickets from Europe are usually much cheaper than the tickets from Moscow. Flight Rome – Amsterdam – Panama – San Jose was carried out by KLM.
It was nice to find out that if the purpose of the trip is tourism, and the period of stay in Costa Rica does not exceed 30 days, then Russian citizens will not need a visa. Also, if you have a valid American or Schengen multiple visa, then Costa Rica and the neighbouring countries will always welcome you with open arms.
Why you should go there:
Costa Rica is considered the safest country in Central and Latin America. You do not have to worry that you can be robbed. Although, you certainly should take some security measures.
There are incredible sunsets and sunrises! Whether it is the Pacific coast or the Caribbean part of the country.
Its nature is very beautiful and rich. The motto of Costa Rica — pura vida. This country counts on ecotourism, the cultivation of organic fruits and vegetables, and farms. On the one hand, Costa Rica is very agrarian and rural, on the other, it is focused on tourism, mostly from the USA. There are many national parks and reserves. All the sights are mostly natural. There are a lot of places to visit. There are coasts with desolate beaches and warm water, waterfalls, rainforests, mountains, and volcanoes.
The local people is amicable. People on the streets are very friendly, smiling and open.
The climate is pleasant. Despite the fact that Costa Rica is quite small, it has a variety of climatic zones. There are hot tropical coasts and mountainous area with eternal spring and the coolness.
The language of the local population, which is not difficult for Europeans and widespread around the world, is Spanish. The country is focused on tourism, so English is also spoken there. That makes Costa Rica different from the neighbouring countries, where it is almost impossible to communicate without Spanish. In general, Costa Rica is for those, who want to stay in harmony with nature, who appreciate environmental friendliness, cleanness, positive people, silence, and solitude.
When you should go: the best time is the dry season – from December to April.
One can talk endlessly about Costa Rica. Parks lure tourists with endless greenery, warm from the sun air, and animals that sleep on the tops of the trees. It seems so incredible that one can feel dizzy. Bright colours of nature and smells of Costa Rican cuisine come together to create fabulous atmosphere.
My trip to symbolic place of “the rich coast” started with La Paz, which is located on the slopes of the Poas volcano. Hundreds of tourists come here to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the park, which has the world’s largest park of butterflies, the garden of hummingbirds, the garden of orchids, serpentarium, winding mountain river and majestic waterfalls.
The full name of this amazing place is La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Here are 5 waterfalls, which are divided by a three-kilometer tourist trail. Time spins away in this paradise, so you should plan to spend at least 3 hours here. There are lush tropical greenery and amazing birds, which are under the protection of La Paz. They are not afraid of people. Anyone can not only take a photo with them, but also hand feed a toucan, a bird-fly and a hummingbird.
The cost of the visit to the Park is $ 40 (yes, you should be prepared for the fact that the entrances to the parks in Costa Rica are quite expensive).
Almost right at the entrance, you are greeted by colourful butterflies. This place is like a fairy garden: colourful butterflies, slowly flying over rare species of flowers, sit on your camera and pose with confidence. The atmosphere is filled with peace and bliss.
I was most impressed with the waterfalls. There are only five waterfalls in the park and the path leads first to the uppermost, then along the river to lower waterfalls, ending at the special stop, from which the shuttle goes up to the reception of the park. All walks in local parks – endless ascending and descending. Sometimes it happens at the height of 2200 metres. At first, it is a bit hard for your body, but after a while, you get used to it.
The uppermost waterfall, Templo Waterfall, can be viewed from several angles.
The largest waterfall is called Magia Blanca (“white magic”). It is majestic! Come closer and inhale the wet air, listen to the noise of thunderous water and enjoy the moment of unity with nature.
Third waterfall is called Encantada and fourth, Escondida, is hidden behind it.
After waterfalls I recommend you to go in the direction of volcanoes. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get to the Poas volcano, because it was very humid and the sky was cloudy every day near San Jose (and Poas is close to the capital). Although we saw a fantastically beautiful volcano – Arenal.
Arenal is the most active volcano of Costa Rica, the top of which, however, is hidden in clouds most of the time. One can see the eruption of ash from volcano only during the dry season. Arenal is known as one of the most active volcanoes on earth. Even these days you can see the smoke coming out of its cone, and at the cloudless night – the fiery red lava flows.
And here is Lake Arenal.
At the exit from the park, we saw beautiful Costa Rican horses.
There was also a toucan 🙂
And this incredible view from the window was waiting for me in the morning.
The road led then to Monteverde – one of the famous parks of Costa Rica. The view of rainforests, covered with clouds, humid tropical forest, exotic animals and cute birds takes your breath away!
Monteverde with its protected cloudy forests, unusual flora and fauna, is known as one of the most famous ecotourism areas in Central America. It is worth staying, at least for a few days, in order to explore one of the most interesting places in Costa Rica. We spent 2 days there.
The park was really rainy. We were escaping the drizzle with the help of our raincoats (by the way, I advise you to get umbrellas also).
However, the rain brings something magical in nature…
Another famous place of the region is the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve with suspension bridges.
The walk across suspension bridges in the cloudy forest will cost you $ 50 and it will take you from 2 to 5 hours, depending on the route that you are ready to choose. However, I decided to change the route and to go by car in the opposite direction to explore Santa Elena not as a tourist, but as an explorer. Sometimes it is worth leaving the planned route.
Fog is everywhere…
Flora is fascinating…
Next, our route led to the shores of the Pacific ocean.
On our way there we saw a waterfall.
But let’s go back to the ocean. I admit that as a person who loves everything related to vacation at the beach I was really waiting for the moment when we will go to the Pacific coast. When we finally arrived there, I was very happy!
The beaches on the shores of Costa Rica are sandy, and the sand is of different shades — from white and gold to silver and even black. Almost each has its own peculiarity and “specialization”. The beaches of Guanacaste: Playa del Coco is good for practicing scuba diving, Playa Flamingo — for sport fishing, Tamarindo — for surfing, Playa Conchal is distinguished by amazing white sand, and Playa Grande is famous for marine turtles that lay their eggs there. Such beaches as Playa Nosara, Playa Carrillo and Playa Hermosa are also popular in Guanacaste. But we went to the most beautiful coast of Costa Rica – Playa Tamarindo.
Pure golden sand, gentle waves of the warm ocean, muscled surfers, and pura vida in the atmosphere…
My soul was captivated for the moment.
Tamarindo is famous for its perfect surfing waves and the most incredible sunsets.
Even in cloudy weather, the ocean is beautiful.
After Tamarindo we headed to Manuel Antonio – the oldest resort in Costa Rica. This region was the first one to develop and still has the palm of victory for visits. There are several reasons for the popularity: this is a national park, it has several beautiful beaches with white sand and azure water, as well as good roads, and it is close to the capital.
On the way to Manuel Antonio you should visit Carrara National Park, where real crocodiles live under the bridge.
Crocodiles seem to be simply unreal! Stately moving along the river, they intimidate by their appearance and moderate fatness.
If you take a close look, then you will see iguanas among the greenery.
Now let’s talk a bit about the park.
Manuel Antonio National Park is small in size. Entrance is $ 10. It is better to come early – it is hot to walk in the park on the coast during the day, and the queue at the entrance sometimes reaches half a kilometre.
Perhaps, it was the richest in animals park! The most interesting inhabitants of the park – white-faced monkeys – capuchins. These monkeys are pretty smart and agile. They do not beg much, but love to stay around tourists.
If you hear rustling among the trees, then you should know that it is a sloth.
Feeding animals is strictly forbidden, but there are still lovers who treat animals with some biscuits. The walk with the guide will take you about an hour. At the end of the route you will find the most amazing lagoon with clear blue water, calm as in the pool, and white sand.
Here you can continue walking on your own. The park has several trails. You can go back to the beach of Manuel Antonio National Park.
Stroll along the sea and enjoy the sunset…
Costa Rica is the perfect destination for ecotourism, romantic trips, and SPA-tours. It has everything – mountain ranges covered with thick forests, volcanoes and turquoise lakes in their craters, beaches with silver sand, noisy waterfalls, sleepy fishing villages and coffee plantations in the valleys.
During my trip I felt happiness: happiness of being here and now, happiness to drink fresh smoothies on the beach, happiness to feed wild monkeys with bananas, happiness to stick up plaster on my knee scratched from surfing. These feelings were dizzy and breathtaking…
Costa Rica is the magic and amazing energy of primeval nature! This was the most incredible experience this year!