If you’re looking to head off on adventure holidays, you really can’t go wrong with Central America. Costa Rica truly is a highlight of the destination, but it’s perhaps not a country that many people know much about.
Should you decide to travel here, you’ll explore a destination that is slightly off the gap year and backpacker radar, so at times you’ll feel as though you are the only ones to have discovered Costa Rica.
Here are what I think are the top five things to see and do on your adventure in the country.
1. Help at a turtle conservation project
Costa Rica has an abundance of wildlife – despite taking up just 0.03 per cent of the globe’s surface, the country is home to six per cent of the world’s biodiversity. More than a quarter of the nation is made up of natural protected and conservation territory.
Heading to a turtle conservation project will allow you to get a glimpse of these beautiful creatures, as well as do some good. Costa Rica offers so much for travellers that it’s fantastic to give something back.
2. Explore a national park
There are loads of protected areas, as mentioned, so make sure you check out at least one – although there are so many, it’ll be hard to not stumble across a national park!
The Barra Honda National Park is full of caves, stalagmites and stalactites and makes the ideal base for adventure holidays. You can descend into caverns and go hiking across the beautiful landscape.
3. Raft along its waterways
Costa Rica is packed with rivers, forests, volcanoes and waterfalls, so you should explore part of the country by raft or kayak. Aside from the obvious adrenaline rush you’ll get, travelling around on rivers allows you to get up close to the abundance of wildlife the country boasts, including a variety of birds.
The Pacuare River is the longest in the country with rapids graded III-IV (not for the faint-hearted!). First-time rafters will prefer the gentler Saavegre waterway, while the Pascua section of the Reventazon River is for experienced rafters only!
4. Discover the landscape on horseback
There is something about horse riding that makes you feel as though you have the landscape to yourself and can go anywhere and everywhere. Whether you decide to ascend the mountains above San Jose or take a gentle ride along a beach, it is a great way to explore Costa Rica’s amazing scenery.
Ride through tropical rainforests, stopping at lakes and waterfalls – being slightly higher off the ground means you are in a better position to spot native birds in the trees.
5. Get under the skin of the culture
As you can expect from a country that has an average 4.6 mammal species and 16.9 bird types in each 1,000 sq km. Costa Rica is certainly unique, and this extends into its rich culture.
While it’s tempting to spend your entire time outdoors, head to one of the many museums to discover more about the country. There are centres dedicated to native groups of people, as well as immigrants from all over the world. Some of the most popular and important community museums include the Chortega Ceramics centre and the Indigenous Boruca museum.
This list could have easily been much bigger – why not add some of your own ideas below?