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Flanked by two oceans and renowned for its white beaches, laid-back
lifestyle and abundant wildlife, Costa Rica is a popular destination for
anyone keen on fi nding a safe way to taste the treats of Central America,
a nature lover’s paradise. Will Gray explores…
rom the untouched wilds of Antonio, which offers a spectacular continental divide. But for adventurers,
Tortuguero on the Caribbean to scenic walk around the forest-topped the locals have pushed the boundaries out
the bar-backed Tamarindo surf cliffs of Punta Catedral and easy access further than a pair of hiking boots and a
beach on the Pacifi c, Costa Rica to excellent forest trails to fi nd sloths, strenuous hill – as we discovered when
has plenty to see on its coast. iguanas and squirrel monkeys. we hit the zip lines!
And there are even more adventurous Tortuguero village is the gateway to Flying down a metal wire on a simple
destinations to be discovered in the this wildlife-fi lled wilderness, but even pulley, the forest whizzed away below me.
interior, with live volcanoes and moist before we got there we met a relaxed All too soon, the sudden clunk stopped
cloud forests offering the chance to be three-toed sloth just hanging around on me in my tracks and I was left to marvel
explorer and Tarzan on the same day. the water’s edge, slowly sliding down his at the scenery I had just travelled over. My
In the east, Cahuita National Park is a branch, as well as encountering storks, fellow travellers followed me down before
massive protected area featuring stunning pelicans and caimans as we slowly cruised I hit the rope swing, which fl ew me across
beaches and waterfront rainforest. A short towards the water-locked location. more jungle at an even faster pace.
walk took us along white sands and past More than 300 birds, 100 reptiles, It was an unforgettable experience
tall water’s-edge palms interspersed with 60 mammals and 50 amphibians and a very different way to see the canopy
foliage-cutting jungle exploration where call this 19,000-hectare park home, from above. As it whizzed by so fast,
we met several long-legged, wide-bodied and a typical early morning boat tour we were glad to take the opportunity to
(and fortunately harmless) spiders! included encounters with river otters, follow our aerial adrenalin rush with a
If you snorkel or dive, then the seas toucans, swallow-tailed hawks, herons, walk along the well-paved trails in search
around Costa Rica present a paradise kingfi shers, crocodiles, giant iguanas of the elusive resplendent quetzal (a
of marine life. This includes brain and and the unique green basilisk lizards that colourful local bird) and the toucan – both
elkhorn coral, large numbers of urchins, hang their feet as they bask on branches. of which we eventually found in the car
sea fans, angelfi sh, blue parrotfi sh, If you have never seen a real volcano, park! TOP 5 HIGHLIGHTS
barracudas and stingrays, with clear then Arenal is a great place to experience With all this nature and adventure 1 Get close to an amazing variety
water allowing excellent visibility for the live earth as never before. Our tour to see, you might like the chance to of plantlife
much of the year. took us on a stroll right to the base of this chill out for a while – and that is why 2 Chill on the beaches or break
An rumbling monster just in time for the Costa Rica has created Tamarindo and the surf
equal sun to set and the lava rocks to become a its neighbouring beachfront towns, the 3 Swing through the trees and
– some glowing red colour as they bounced down perfect places to relax, with beautiful long zip through the clouds
say even the mountainside. Then there’s just time beaches, sunset bars and good restaurants. 4 Watch nature erupt with a visit
better for a relaxing dip in the nearby volcano- Whether you ride the waves, swim to a live volcano
– experience on driven hot springs. in the sea or relax on a sunbed, it is easy 5 Say hello to the animals,
the Pacifi c side is the The animal-fi lled cloud forest of to appreciate the lifestyle here and including the incredible
country’s smallest Monteverde is a treat of its own, with perhaps even become as laid-back as a leatherback turtles
National Park, Manuel damp, moss-laden trees rolling over the Tortuguero sloth!
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