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Angela's Top 10 Tips for Costa Rica

When I was asked to join one of our Costa Rica Walks and Wildlife departures I was delighted for the opportunity to visit Central America for the fi... Read more
Angela's Top 10 Tips for Costa Rica

When I was asked to join one of our Costa Rica Walks and Wildlife departures I was delighted for the opportunity to visit Central America for the first time. I knew that the country was a paradise of tropical rainforests, volcanoes and idyllic beaches but beyond that I knew little more. I often find that hindsight is a wonderful thing when it comes to travel so thought I'd share some facts and top tips for this holiday based on what I know now. Hopefully this will help and inspire anyone considering this fantastic itinerary.

1. It's always best to learn a few phrases in the local language but if you find yourself stuck then you'll find that the phrase 'Pura vida' covers many situations. It means 'pure life' but you can use it as a greeting, to say goodbye or simply to let someone know how you feel when 'everything is good'.

2. Don't stand under a coconut tree. The shade might be appealing but those hard shells are probably tougher than your head.

3. You can spend US Dollars and local Colones as easily as each other so don't worry about which you have.

4. Take time to look everywhere: up, down, ahead, behind. There is flora and fauna to be spotted everywhere. Sloths and birds high up in the trees can be hard to spot but they are there, probably watching you before you see them! But don’t worry, you'll have the advantage of the trained eyes of your guide to help. I’d recommend taking binoculars too.

5. Expect to get wet. Even in a tropical paradise it can rain (how else will it become so lush and green!) However unlike the chill of British rain it's warm water coming from the skies above Costa Rica. An umbrella can be your best friend. Also, there is no avoiding getting your feet wet (possibly full legs too) when you land by boat in Corcovado national park.

6. Don't stand in the way of army ants. They don't have a fixed nest and march to their next destination each day. They have a sharp bite so it's best to let them have the right of way.

7. Enjoy the local food. The typical breakfast dish of gallo pinto is available pretty much everywhere, consisting of rice and beans with eggs, meat and tortillas. Pour Salsa Lizano on it to add some gentle spice (and don’t forget to buy some in the supermarket to take home with you!) You’ll find that other meals often include rice and beans too and I’d also recommend trying cerviche (fish cured with lime or lemon) and tamale (a dish wrapped in banana leaves). You might also have the chance to sample coconut water and raw sugar cane!

8. Make time for a ‘hammock tour’. The itinerary is packed with walks and activities but you should also be able to find time to relax, read a book, listen to the sounds of the forest or spend time wildlife spotting from your balcony or the accommodation grounds. You’ll be amazed at what you can see without going far!

9. Take a dip in the Pacific Ocean or a waterfall pool. You’ll have several opportunities to do this, including snorkeling, and it’s a fantastic refreshing way to cool off. On the other hand it’s also great to spend time in the hot springs under Arenal Volcano!

10. There are many more facts and tips I could add but will leave you to discover them yourself when you visit! I’ll finish on a few interesting facts: The sun rises and sets at the same time every day, 365 days a year. Costa Rica is a very peaceful country with no standing army since 1949. About 10% of the world’s butterflies live in Costa Rica. There is so much to learn about this beautiful country!

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