Kayaking

Costa Rica: Adventures In The Jewel Of The Rainforest

Across the globe, there are a few areas that scientists consider biological “hot spots.” These regions are unusually abundant in plants and wildlife that aren’t found anywhere else. It’s referred to as biodiversity.

Costa Rica is one of these ecological hot spots. According to the book “Ecotourism and Sustainable Development” by Dr. Martha M. Honey, Costa Rica has just .1 percent of the world’s landmass, but 5 percent of the world’s biodiversity.

While other ecologically sensitive areas, like Indonesia and the Amazon region of Brazil, are fast diminishing, this isn’t the case in Costa Rica. Government leaders here realized early on what a treasure our environment is and moved quickly to protect it. About 25 percent of Costa Rica is protected as a nature preserve of some sort, the highest ratio of any country on Earth. Worldwide, the average is around 13 percent.

Among these protected areas is the Monteverde Cloud Forest, which is home to an estimated 100 mammal species, 400 bird species and 2,000 plant species. Corcovado National Park is also internationally known. It’s one of the few spots where all four monkey species native to Costa Rica can be found, and it’s famous for being quite hospitable to jaguars.

Now, exploring all of the richness of Costa Rica can be a little overwhelming. There is so much to see and do that it’s hard to manage it all on your own. This is one reason why a guided Costa Rica adventure may be right for you. A hike through the rain forest or a jungle safari can reveal some of the beautiful and fascinating wildlife native to our country. To learn about the trips that Costa Rica Rios offers, feel free to contact us. Come play in our back yard.

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Costa Rica trips aid your Spanish exploration

Among the native Spanish speaking community Costa Ricans are known for their very clear and correct Spanish usage. An emphasis on education has been an enduring point of national pride since the military was abolished in 1949. For decades since, Costa Rica’s literacy rates have consistently ranked highly among all nations in the Western Hemisphere. As a stable democracy and peaceful nation Costa Rica has naturally become a destination for exploration and Spanish language development. International institutions of learning are fostering partnerships with Costa Rican universities to develop accredited college Spanish immersion courses. It is a common sight now in Costa Rica to find visitors attuning their Spanish skills in restaurants, stores, hotels, with tour guides and the locals.

Foreign visitors on Costa Rica trips or Honeymoons will at first be greeted by friendly and personable nationals that are welcoming and helpful. The Spanish you will hear is very clear and discernible, very much akin to what perhaps has been provided to you through years of Spanish courses, textbooks, dvd programs, online classes and so on. Being in Costa Rica provides an excellent opportunity not to be shy with your Spanish. The locals appreciate your efforts to communicate in their native tongue. A wide number of Costa Ricans have a cursory knowledge of English and many other languages which ensures that communication is always possible.

Working on your Spanish in Costa Rica is great, but take the time to note those Spanish words that are uniquely Costa Rican. Your knowledge of them will take you far in conversations, win you points with the locals and get you out of an awkward silence perhaps. Here’s a list of some of the most widely used Costa Rican colloquialisms. You’ll hear these a lot through your travels and interactions with the locals so we hope they come in handy.

Tico: An affectionate term for a Costa Rican (Tica: feminine, Ticos: plural)

Pura Vida: This is the national mantra, translated directly: Pure Life. Meaning: Everything is good!

Mae or Maje: A man, as in “Hey, man!” or “dude”

Tuanis: This simply means “cool.”

Tipico/a: That which is in the local style, native way.

Gallo pinto: Classic Costa Rican rice and beans dish.

Casado: Traditional Costa Rican meal; normally represented with rice, vegetables, salad and choice of protein.   The word also means married, so a must try for you newlyweds on your Costa Rican honeymoon.

Güila: A child.

Carajo!: Oh my!

Contact us to learn how to put all that Spanish studying to good use!spanish for your costa rican adventure vacation package

 

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Birdwatching on Your Costa Rica Adventure

Costa Rica is well known as one of the top birding destinations in the world. More than 840 species of land and sea birds call Costa Rica home, far more than inhabit North America. A Costa Rica adventure should include some bird watching to really understand Costa Rica and its diverse habitats. It can be fun for amateurs and experienced birders alike.

The amazing diversity of birds that can be found in Costa Rica stems from some fortuitous circumstances. Millions of years ago, the continents were adrift and not in the same positions they are now. As they slowly floated about the oceans, the continents drifted together. With help from earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, the bridge of Central America slowly formed. The various species from North and South America met in the middle, and the mild climate allowed many of them to thrive and multiply. Migrants from both South and North America also visit Costa Rica during their respective winter seasons.

The current climate and terrain of Costa Rica provide excellent habitats for birds. There is an abundance of trees and bushes with fruit that birds feast on year round. The birds, in turn, pollinate the fruit and spread the seeds after feeding. A wide array of habitats, including mangrove swamps, wet Caribbean coastal plains, dry northern highlands, pacific lowlands and mountain ranges, provide a home for the various species.

When you visit Costa Rica, some of the bird species you may wish to find include the quetzal, the toucan and the frigate. The beautiful quetzal can be hard to spot, but with its long tail and glorious coloration it’s a favorite. Males have emerald green bodies with red breasts, and a long tail which grows during mating season. You may spot a quetzal in the cloud forests or mountainous areas in northern Costa Rica.

The jungles are full of toucans, easy to spot because of their large, distinctive yellow bill. While the bill seems too large for the body, they are actually hollow and very lightweight. Toucans eat mostly fruit. As the seeds pass through their bodies and are deposited in various places, trees are planted in other locations where they don’t have to compete for light with more mature trees.

Along the ocean, you can see frigate birds swooping and performing acrobatics. They often harass gulls or other sea birds into dropping their fish so they can fly in and steal them. There will always be more than one, and their formations while flying can be very entertaining.

When you’re in Costa Rica, make time to find and observe the amazing bird life. Whether it’s part of a hike, a river kayaking tour, a visit to a volcano or a formal garden, you’ll discover that birdwatching adds an exciting dimension to your Costa Rican adventure. Contact us to learn more about the best birdwatching spots in the country for your next trip. tucancillo verde could be seen on your costa rica honeymoon

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Explore The Amazing Cuisine During Your Costa Rica Honeymoon

A costa rica honeymoon is full of exploration, the glowing sun, gorgeous natural sights and the embrace of the beach. Because of all this, perhaps food isn’t the first thing that jumps to mind when you consider this unique country. However, Costa Rica is home to a unique, widely varied and ubiquitously delicious cuisine. Whether you prefer mingling with locals in small, scrumptiously authentic eateries or dining on the succulent and original delicacies of five star restaurants, your taste buds will have a blast in Costa Rica.

So what’s the food like exactly?

Gallo Pinto, the country’s national dish, is a simple and satisfying combination of flavorful black beans and pure white rice mixed with onions, bell peppers, and a wide variety of other possibilities–whatever tickles your fancy. Lunch often includes fresh corn tortillas, fresh white Costa Rican cheese, meat or fish, eggs, and Salsa Lizano–a flavorful sauce with just enough heat and sweetness to make your eyes roll back in bliss.

Although these staples can be found in nearly every household in the country, it is far from the limit of Costa Rican cuisine. With fresh vegetables as the main ingredient, the food is remarkably healthy and tends to be well seasoned without too much chili, as some other Latin American cuisine often is (though ask for Chileros–fresh salsa made with Habanero peppers if you are a fan of spicy food). Arroz con pollo (chicken with rice), delicious salads, savory plantains that are fried, mashed, or cut into soups are a few of many mouth-watering dishes.

Corn is utilized well in Costa Rica. From tortillas to pancakes, soups to dessert breads, this staple can be found in a huge variety of dishes. Try the tamales–puréed corn steamed in a banana leaf and mixed with whatever cheeses, vegetables, meats, and chilies you desire.

For desert try plantains baked in a sugar based sauce. Tres leches (three milk sponge cake), pudina (bread pudding), and pan de elote (sweet cornbread) are also unbelievably tasty, and not overly sweet.

Ready to take your taste buds on an adventure? Just contact us and let us know what we can do for you. We’re happy to answer questions, give advice, or create a tour for you. Hope to see you soon!

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Visit the Backdrop for ‘Runner, Runner’

The new movie Runner, Runner has the setting backdrop of beautiful Costa Rica. The film shot there for a week so they could get the authentic and adventurous feel of the country first hand.

One of Brad Furman’s reasons for signing on to direct the picture was the attraction of the setting. It would be like a working vacation. However, when he was told by studio heads that he would need to shoot in Puerto Rico instead, he fought hard and won in the end.

After fighting concerns by studio heads, Furman won the chance to shoot for a week in the beautiful locale of Costa Rica and he has nothing but praises for the country.

“…there is an incredible spirit in Costa Rica…it is really beautiful,” the director said in an interview with movie website Collider about his want to shoot in the country and his experience in absorbing the culture and adventures there.

Runner, Runner is about online gambling and how Justin Timberlake’s character gets sucked into the beauty, majesty and spirit of Costa Rica. He has his own Costa Rica adventure in a way.

If you’re planning a vacation then try something new and fun. Go see the movie Runner, Runner (which is currently playing in most theaters) and pay attention to the overhead shots, the backdrop settings and the beauty of the movie’s locales. If it looks appealing then perhaps you should be a little adventurous and head to Costa Rica for your own vacation this holiday season.

If you’re ready to have your own costa rica adventure then contact us today and see Runner, Runner before you do.

costa rica adventure vacations almost always include at least one tropical waterfall
Tropical Waterfall
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Whitewater Kayaking in Costa Rica

New Kayaks in Costa RicaWell, its that time of year again when our minds turn to the rivers and our whitewater kayaking tours.  As he does each year, Fraser has purchased a few more new boats (total 6) adding to our already bulging warehouse.  We have never been ones to throw away old kayaks but it really is getting ridiculous with some so covered in dust they look more like mummies!  The kayak that has excited Fraser the most this year is the Jackson Dynamic Duo.

whitewater kayaking solo or tandem

He has talked about getting one for a few years and finally took the plunge.  I know this will be fun for some of you who are almost, but not quite ready, for the Lower Pacuare. This “tandem” kayak will get you paddling those rapids that have seemed so illusive for so long (you know who you are)!  The guides look at it with a bit of trepidation and a lot of excitement. None of these local boys have ever paddled such a long kayak!  We will send them out to practice before letting them take one of our valued guests down the river!!  We are kicking off the season with a couple of Week of Rivers in October, then the guides will all do their annual scouting mission with Fraser.  Hopefully it will not be the ‘first descent” style scouting of the year before but still with some fun and adventure.  Every year the rains change the course of our rivers a bit so its our job to keep on top of the local conditions and any potential hazards.  Plus we are always on the look out for new runs that we can share with our kayakers.

Kayaking Costa Rica

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Useful Spanish Phrases for Your Costa Rica Adventure: Round Two

Did you catch our first roundup of Spanish phrases to use on your Costa Rica Rios adventure? It’s time for your second mini course; practice these one-liners while you’re waiting in line at the airport.

Podría quedarme aquí por siempre. – I could stay here forever. Likely to be uttered with a blissful sigh while lying in a hammock at the Jungle Lodge, or when taking in the view as you mountain bike down Volcan Irazú.

¿Me enseña a bailar? – Will you teach me to dance? During our Week of Adventures tour, you’ll have an evening on the Caribbean coast where you might want to pop into a beachside dance club before resting up for the next day’s surfing and snorkeling. No prior knowledge of merengue or salsa required.

¿Es un tiburón? – Is that a shark? No, no, it’s (probably) not. But if you’re worried, this phrase will help you achieve some peace of mind before/during/after your bodyboarding or surfing expedition.

Tu eres el amor de mi vida. – You are the love of my life. Most likely to be appropriate on your Costa Rica Rios honeymoon, but we don’t doubt that sparks might fly between you and that new person you sat next to on the 16 mile paddle down the Lower Pacuare River.

¡El agua es tan clara! – The water is so clear! Often heard on Day 2 of the Week of Rivers Kayak tour, when adventurers start out on the calm jungle river of Rio Pejibaye. Or Day 3 when you arrive at the Sarapiquí River, known as the “Jewel of Costa Rica.”

¡Amo mi vida! – I love my life! Typically screamed at the top of one’s lungs at Cimarrones, where kayakers meet the steep and technical class IV drop on the Lower Pacuare River. Don’t worry, there are several kilometers of warm-up rapids to work up your nerve before the plunge.

¡Uuuy, que chiva! – Oooh, how cool! Said with amazement on Day 5 of your costa rica adventure vacation, when you’ll zipline through a jungle canopy, rappel down waterfalls, and walk across a hanging bridge.

Jefe, necesito unos días… – Boss, I need a few days… Okay, okay, we’ll let you decide on your own how to tell your boss you want some more time in paradise.

Contact us for help planning your adventure, and nos vemos pronto (we’ll see you soon).

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Useful Spanish Phrases for Your Costa Rica Adventure

While there’s no language requirement on Costa Rica Rios trips, it’s always fun to use a bit of the local dialect, right? Here are a few phrases to get you started; the locals might even mistake you for a Tico/Tica.

Más rápido, maeFaster, dude; may be useful with your whitewater rafting guide if you want to pick it up a notch (loco = crazy, by the way).

¡Pero tengo miedo!But I’m scared! This phrase is often followed by delighted screaming and laughing; say this right before you zip-line across a canopy.

¡Otra vez!Again! You loved that flight through the trees, didn’t you?

Te amoI love you. Surprise your new husband or wife with this phrase on your honeymoon as you gaze off into the Caribbean horizon.

¿Cuánto cuesta?How much does it cost? This will be useful in between adventures if you choose to snatch up a Costa Rican souvenir or two, like a bag of local coffee or artisan pottery.

¡Qué ola tan grande!What a big wave! While surfing, this may mean you either rush out to sea or rush back to shore, depending on your skill level. Or maybe you’re on the beach and want to warn your friends to pick up their towels.

¿Cómo se llama (pointing at something)? – What is that called? When you spot unknown exotic wildlife while snorkeling or hiking, use this phrase to learn their names, or ask about that volcano up ahead or the bright blue butterfly that landed on your bike.

Me duelen las piernasMy legs hurt. Speaking of bikes, your quads or hamstrings might burn a bit from that mountain biking portion of the trip; use this excuse to take a breather and a snap a few pics of the scenery.

¡Qué lindo/bonito!How beautiful! Use while pointing to that view, that flower, that sunset, that bird, etc. You’ll probably be using this one at least every five minutes if you’re not busy catching your breath or laughing.

¡Qué rico! How delicious! Compliment your chef or server, or just rave to your trip companions about the fresh fish on your plate or the fruit smoothie you’re slurping down.

¡Pura vida! – this ubiquitous Costa Rican phrase has a dozen meanings, which makes it applicable in most situations. Literally, it means “pure life” and often refers to the relaxed attitudes of Ticos (Costa Ricans). But it also can be a greeting, an exclamation of approval, a descriptor of how you’re feeling, a synonym for excellent, or just something you scream as you kayak down a rushing river.

For all your other language needs, our staff and guides have got you covered. Find the trip that’s right for you and contact us for more information. ¡Pura vida!

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Plan Your Own Costa Rica Adventure

What would your perfect vacation be? Do you think about riding around on a hot, sweaty tour bus? Or wandering around in a large group of people listening to a tour guide describe a long history of some building? Or are you looking for a wild ride down some whitewater rapids? How about a bike tour of a volcano? A zipline ride across rainforest treetops? What about all of them? Creating your own Costa Rica adventure means that you don’t have to choose just one. You can plan all the excitement you want into one big adventure.

Costa Rica offers all the adventure your family or group can handle. With a tropical climate and a variety of terrain, you can pick from the many activities that appeal to your outdoor spirit. Instead of being stuck in a pre-planned selection of a package deal, you can decide how short or long you want to go for, and what activities you do, creating your own vacation package.

If water is what you are dreaming of, you can choose to kayak, raft, or canoe on the Pacuare River where you can experience the beauty of the surrounding rainforest, with many chances to stop and swim, rest, and take in the views. Rather swim than paddle? You can take advantage of scuba diving or snorkeling in the waters off the Manuel Antonio National Park. If surfing is your thing, try catching a wave in Puerto Viejo. Or include a day to relax at one of the stunning beaches the country has to offer.

Waves and water not your thing? Try taking on mountain biking. You can choose to bike through the cloud forest as you journey to the shoulder of the Turrialba Volcano, with small villages along the way. Or choose to bike through the Orosi Valley. Pedaling too tiring? Try a saddle instead with horseback riding. You can mount up and travel up to the La Fortuna Waterfall or ride to the observatory of the famous Arenal Volcano.

Looking for a ride of a different kind? Zip line rides will have you flying above the jungle. Rise above the treetops to experience the adventure of a lifetime. Experience the rainforest like never before with a canopy tour that takes you across suspension bridges, rappelling down trees and even offers adrenaline pumping zip line rides over the trees.

With these and many more activities to choose from, you can find the perfectly balanced adventure. Take the worry and stress out of planning with all meals, lodging, entrance fees and permits taken care of. No need to have your own equipment or search for guides.  We can take care of everything.  Contact us and start planning your perfect Costa Rica adventure today.

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Top 5 Reasons to Vacation with Costa Rica Rios

1. Adventure

Conquer the Costa Rican rapids while whitewater rafting, paddle through twists and turns in a kayak, take a surf ride on a Caribbean wave. Bike down a volcano, zipline through trees, snorkel along tropical reefs. That enough adventure for you? Then you’re made for our high-adrenaline multi-sport adventure vacation package. Or, if one sport is plenty for you, try a week of canoeing or kayaking through Costa Rica’s pristine whitewater rivers.

2. Romance and Relaxation

Honeymooners rave about our tours, which, in addition to the aforementioned adventure activities, can be paired with plenty of quieter newlywed moments. Stay in a deluxe eco-lodge, enjoy a more low-key tour like the Rain Forest Ridge Walk. Go horseback riding near the Savegre River. Search for exotic critters in Manuel Antonio’s National Park. Simply relax on the beach or soak in hot springs with your amor.

3. Wildlife

Hear that hooting and hollering? That’s a howler monkey in the distance. What about the chirping that greets you in the morning? Could be a White Collared Manakin. Don’t miss the sloths; these funny-looking cuties can be seen at the sloth sanctuary or, if you’re lucky, in the trees during one of your other adventures. While canyoning in the rainforest, you may glimpse the transparent Costa Rican Glass Frog (are those its internal organs!?). Of course you’ll find fascinating fish on your snorkel dive, and you might catch sight of Green Sea, Giant Leatherback or Hawksbill turtles nesting at a marine national park.

4. Food

Pineapples, bananas, mangos, guanabanas. Fresh fish and meat paired with slow-cooked black beans and rice. You won’t go hungry in Costa Rica. Our personal chef prepares your meals daily with locally grown goods. Soon you’ll know the beauty of gallo pinto, frescos naturales, and sweet platano maduro.

5. Culture

From tour guides, to lodging staff, to vendors, and passersby, you’ll meet lots of friendly Ticos (Costa Ricans) willing to share their stories and culture with you. Of course our guides will be especially well-versed in the many facets of Costa Rican life and will be eager to share their knowledge of the country.

Browse the rest of our website, contact us with your questions, then tell your boss you’re going to need some time off.

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