Costa Rica is one of the paises with elder biodiversidad of the world in a so small territory.
Country of mountains and green valleys, active volcanos and durmientes, forest lluvioso and nuboso, areas dry and marshes of mangroves, intact beaches in both coasts, Pacífico and the Atlantic asi like mountain ranges with mountains of until almost 4000 metres of height. Cities cosmopolitas and rural villages as well as National Parks facilmente accessible.
Because of his function like terrestrial bridge between North and Sudamérica, Costa Rica is one of the paises with elder biodiversidad of the world in a so small territory.
850 species of birds, more than in all USE and Canada together, around 1200 species of butterflies, 10% of all the species of the world, more than in all the African continent, 237 species of mammals, including the 6 species of cats of the American Continent, 378 species of amphibians and reptiles and 130 species of freshwater fishes. 12000 species of plants known: even no completed.
Costa Rica was one of the first countries in Latin America in recognising the importance of the protection of the natural resources and in applying it consistently. Almost 25% of the terrestrial surface and part of the maritime zone of the country have been declared National Parks and Zones of Protection from the years 70. Besides there are several private enterprises that devote to protect the environment, many times with the help of international organisations or universities.
The System of National Parks is part of the Ministry of Environment and Energy MINAE. The department to charge is the SINAC (National System of Areas of Conservation). They have been defined 11 Areas of protection, the llamdas «Areas of Conservacíon». Inside these areas that are administered regionalmente find the National Parks, the Biological Reservations, Shelters of Wild Life as well as a big number of protective zones smaller.
1. National park Volcano Poás
The Volcano Poás remains roughly to 1:30 hours in car from Saint José and elevates to 2.708 m on the level of the mar. The last important activity had it in the years 1952-54 and since is extinguishing. The main crater of the Poás is with his diameter of roughly 1,5 km and depth of roughly 300 m. The second bigger crater of the world. In the centre can appreciate the laguna of the crater whose varied colour of celestial to green, of the cual follow emanating the sulphurous gases.
In days despejados shows a spectacular panorama from the edge of the crater. Around the crater can appreciate a sinnúmero of birds in the tropical forest dwarf. A footpath rises until a secondary crater that filled of water and turned into the Laguna Botos.
The Volcano Poás can be visited without any problem on the way to some destination of the Plains and north Mountains or in a walk of a day from Saint José.
Another option is to happen the night in any of the hotels or lodges near of the entrance of the National Park and like this can go in to the Park in the morning..
2. Volcano Sandy area - The Fortune
The main attraction of the Park is the Volcano Sandy area with 1.633 m of altitude. During long it was considered extinct until in 1968 did a strong and sudden eruption and destroyed all a village. Afterwards of a period of calm, the volcano went back to his activity in 1981 and since has been it. On footpaths very marked can arrive to an ancient flow of lava. Around the volcano almost there is not vegetation, however, the park with his extension of 4.000 has still protects primary forest of the Mountain range of Tilarán.
Volcano Hill Chato
The extinct volcano Hill Chato is just at the side of the Sandy area. The point of exit for an extenuante trek until the lake of the crater is the Oberservatory Lodge in splits it south of the volcano.
Waters Termales of Tabacón
To the foot of the volcano, near of the entrance to the National Park, find the waters termales Tabacón. In the middle of very beautiful tropical gardens flows the River Tabacón, heated by the volcanic and rich activity in sulphur. The river crosses several swimming pools and cataracts, from where can appreciate with something of luck one of the eruptions of the volcano. Also there is a restaurant.
Waters Termales "Tabacón small"
At the head of the Spa Tabacón finds an installation to bathe smaller, but very beautiful. Especially in the high period this is less full of people and offers a much cheaper entrance.
Like alternative recommend the "Baldi Termae", situated in the first third part of the street between The Fortune and the National Park Volcano Sandy area. From here also they can appreciate the eruptions.
Cataract The Fortune
This finds 5 km south of The Fortune. The water falls from a height of some 70 m. To a poza natural. The hard descent around an hour by a footpath very empinado. They offer tours to horse from The Fortune.
Represa Of Sandy area
With an area of some 80 km2 east is the biggest lake of Costa Rica. The hydroelectric energy that produces resupplies to big part of the country. In the parts where there is not a lot of water can appreciate a big variety of aquatic birds. The lake of Sandy area is famous all over the world by his Windsurfing and the sportive fishing.
3. Forest Nuboso of Monteverde
Monteverde Is to some 172 km northwest of Saint José in the Mountain range of Tilarán, in the continental division of Costa Rica. The climatic and geographic conditions that result of this phenomenon, are the base for the enormous variety of species and the particular vegetation. The region of Monteverde is one of the areas protected more famous of the tropics of the New World. Up to now they have identified 400 different species of birds, 490 species of butterflies and 100 species of mammals, some in danger of extinction. The typical vegetation are ferns arborescentes as well as trees covered of epífitas and moss. The precipitation average of this zone is of aprox. 3000 mm.
Point of exit for all the attractions is the small village of Sta Elena, which is situated between the Reservations of Monteverde and Sta. Elena. His origin is due to a group of cuaqueros pacifist of the United States, which settled in this region to finals of the 2ª World-wide War. All the important hotels find in the village or on the way to the Reservation of Monteverde.
Biological reservation Monteverde
Originally it founded thanks to a private enterprise. The reservation extended to 10.500 has. Only it allows the entrance to a number limited of people by day, in the high season can be that there is time of wait.
Biological reservation Santa Elena
The Reservation of Santa Elena finds to 6 km northwest of Santa Elena and has the same characteristics regarding diversity of species and vegetation like the Reservation of Monteverde. Due to the fact that it is less known, is less saturated of people. It is administered by the organisation "Youth Challenge International".
The majority of the footpaths of both Reservations are in very good conditions and apt for any person, treks of an hour until half day can do without any problem.
Half of the way between the location of Sta. Elena and the Reservation of Sta. Elena, the Skywalk offers a system of bridges colgantes that goes through on of the dosel of the forest nuboso and that offers an only perspective of the forest and good possibilities of observation of animals. The bridges of the Skywalk are safe for any person that do not suffer of vértigo. The last of the bridges is apt for disabled people.
The variant of the Skywalk for adventurers: they are wires ensured between big trees. By them it glides by means of poleas ensured by an arnés special and accompanied by guides specialised. The sight of the glass of the trees is impressive.
Garden of Butterflies
Divided in 3 habitats the garden of butterflies offers a general sight of the big variety of this species. The garden of butterflies finds a bit in the outskirts of the village, way to Monteverde.
4. National park Volcano Rincón of the Old
The Park takes his name of the active Volcano Rincón of the Old with an altitude of 1.895 m. And that forms part of the Mountain range of Guanacaste.
The Park has an extension of 14.000 has and the main appeals find in the sectors The Pailas and The Hornillas, whose main appeals are the waters termales, the lagunas solfatáricas, the volcancitos of slime and the orifices by where elevate chorros of steam, especially during the station lluviosa.
The footpath of The Pailas is very entitled and takes roughly 2 hours in visiting it. Besides they can do treks by the pastizales and by the tropical forest to hid cataracts.
A promotion to the crater is quite difficult because of the strong winds that imperan.
The vegetation happens of forest premontano to forest nuboso, satisfied goes increasing the height. Rincón Of the Old is a good place to find the national flower of Costa Rica, the orchid Cattleya Skinneri or Guaria Purple. Besides they can find tepezcuintles and guatusas, as well as armadillos, pizotes, monkeys congos, iguanas, and a big variety of birds.
5. National park Manuel Antonio
Seven kilometres south of the location of Quepos, finds the National Park Manuel Antonio, bordeado of beach of white sand and surrounded of palmeras. With good opportunities to observe animal.
The majority of the hotels are located in the road between the village of Quepos and the beaches of the National Park. There is a public bus that happens each hour to the beaches of Manuel Antonio (some 15 minutes).
The National Park Manuel Antonio with an extension of almost 1.800 acres attracts to the visitor with very beautiful footpaths for treks by abundant selva tropical that bordea beaches of white sand and bluish green water. The fascinante forest is the home of some 100 species of mammals and 180 species of birds. A footpath by dense vegetation around the cape, will allow him enjoy of the wonderful sight of 12 small just islands in front.
A splendid combination of natural experience and entertainment in the beach.
6. National park Corcovado
The National Park Corcovado is situated in splits it west of the Peninsula of Bear. Corcovado Was declared National Park in the year 1975. It has an extension of some 55.000 km2. The variety of species of this park, populated mayormente of forest lluvioso, forest premontano and mangroves is impressive and seldom finds in this intensity in another part of the world.
Aqui Find more than 500 species of trees, some 140 mammals and 370 species of birds, in addition to some 150 species of orchids, 120 species of reptiles and amphibious as well as more than 6.000 classes of insects. In the treks of several days see a big variety of animals, between them the four species of monkeys of Costa Rica, big quantity of lapas or guacamayas red and diverse tucanes, pizotes and tolomucos, sahínos and with any luck dantas or culebras. Wild cats find with quite a lot of abundance aqui, but is very dificil observe them since they are very shy.
Starting point for the treks in the National Park, is the location of Port Jiménez in whose centre and surroundings find several pensions and hotels of diverse categories. The administration of the park finds aqui. A visit of several nights in one of the shelters of guardaparques has to be planned carefully. Likewise it recommends do the reservaciones with quite a lot of time of antelación.
Can arrive to Port Jimenez by means of the compañia aerial local SANSA from Saint José. In car, the hard trip roughly some 11-12 hours from Saint José.
The stations of guardaparques more important inside the park are The Ducks (splits north of the Gulf), Saint Pedrillo in the South of Drake Bay, Sirena (station bigger, splits Peaceful South) as well as The Lion located in the gone in South of the Park.
The system of footpaths inside the National Park Corcovado is very developed. There are footpaths from The Ducks to Sirena (some 20 km, 6-7 hours.), of Sirena to The Lion (some 13 km, in parts by the beach), and of Sirena to Saint Pedrillo (some 26 km, almost everything by the beach). In the surroundings of the station of Sirena there are several footpaths by which can realise treks quite calm with very good opportunities to observe animal.
It offers only accommodation in the stations of Sirena and The Lion (camarotes, rooms with several beds). Have to carry mosquiteros and sacks to sleep. In all the stations exists the possibility to happen the night in shops of campaign (that one same has to bring), there are available shared bathrooms. The food has to be commissioned with anticipation in all the stations.
7. National park Tortuguero
One of the main attractions of the country are the 47.000 acres of the National Park of Tortuguero with a sinnúmero of lagunas and channels; unfortunately, this causes a high frequency of visitors during all the year. However, in the small channels where the vegetation of the edges forms incredible tuneles, the nature shows his more beautiful side: high indexes of precipitation favour the growth of trees of palm, ferns and trees with raices of support; loras, monkeys, alligators and crocodiles as well as an immense variety of tropical birds live in this magic world of water and forest.
It does not be necessary to forget of the marine turtles that come every year to this beach caribeña to desovar, giving him like this his name.
To Tortuguero accesses unicamente by air or by water. The lodges more important find of both sides of the laguna, however consider that the hotels that situate in the small peninsula between laguna and Oceáno Atlantic have to take in account prioritariamente. In this peninsula situates also the village of Tortuguero. Almost all the lodges offer complete packages of different length from/to Saint José. These packages almost always include the foods and the tours regular.
A good possibility to continue the trip from Tortuguero to the Volcano Sandy area or some another destination in splits it North of the country, is a transfer in bounce to Old Port of Sarapiquí, where for example can take the vehicle for hire.