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10 Fascinating Facts About Costa Rica Rain Forests

Costa Rica rain forestsWhen people plan their Costa Rica Rios adventure vacation the first thing they envision is taking unforgettable walks through the country’s jungles. Havens of pristine wilderness and varied wildlife, rain forests are the world’s most complex and important ecosystem.

Collectively, they harbor a colossal chunk of the biodiversity the planet needs to thrive, or between 40 and 75% of all biotic species. When in Costa Rica, you’ll be undoubtedly be planning a visit to some of the country’s phenomenal rain forests, so let us help tickly your curiosity with these 10 fascinating facts..

  1. Rain forests are made up of two distinct ecosystems: tropical and temperate. Tropical rain forests are found between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. They are primarily characterized by how much rain they receive, which is about 66 inches a year, on average. Temperate rain forests are found on just about every corner of the globe, all the way up to (almost) both Polar Regions.
  1. Every tropical rain forest scan be divided into four layers: the forest floor, the understory (everything at eye-height), the canopy (what you see when you look up) and the emergent layer, which is everything that grows and lives above the canopy, usually obscured from view. Each layer is inhabited by quite distinct species of flora and fauna.
  1. The largest tropical rain forest in the world is the Amazon, which runs through nine South American countries. Over 50% of Costa Rica is made up of primary rain forest, which is the most carbon-dense and bio-diverse in existence.
  1. Rain forests are likened to the planet’s thermostat: they regulate the global climate and temperatures. About 28% of the oxygen produced on earth is from rain forests. This is what makes them so important, as well as highly susceptible to the detrimental effects of global warming. Aside this threat, rain forests are also subjected to catastrophic logging, mining, ranching and agricultural expansion, the world over. Deforestation has decimated about 40% of the rain forests which once existed on our planet. Costa Rica is one of the few countries in the world which makes conservation a priority, and over 75% of the country’s rain forests are protected reserves.
  1. Our planet’s rain forests boast 70% of the plants currently used to treat cancer, and it’s believed many more are yet to be discovered as only 1% of the flora has ever been studied for their medicinal purposes. Each square mile of rain forest boasts, on average, 400 species of flowering plants and 200 different types of trees.
  1. There is still, to this day, much that we don’t know about these incredible ecosystems, and estimates of new and unidentified species of flora and fauna are believed to number in the millions.
  1. Every single day, the world loses the equivalent of 80,000 football-field-sized portions of rain forests.
  1. The world’s rain forests currently supply livelihood for over 1.2 billion people living in poverty.
  1. In tropical rain forests, the canopy is so dense that rainfall can take up to 10 minutes to reach the forest floor.
  1. Rain forests are the oldest ecosystem on earth

Discover Costa Rica’s Forests

All up, Costa Rica is home to six different kinds of rain forests, including tropical, tropical dry and the mesmerizing cloud forests. Over 100 different species of trees are found here, as well as an enticing array of wildlife, including sloths, a nearly endless array of monkey and thousands of bird species.

The most famous cloud forest in the country is undoubtedly Monteverde, a mystical place brimming with coffee plantations, rowdy monkeys, and endless hiking possibilities. Cloud forests are very special, almost magical, as they are shrouded in a mist that makes them feel quite ethereal. The wonderful thing about Costa Rica’s rain forests is that they are thriving centers for eco-friendly activities. zip lining, hiking, canopy tours, visiting butterfly farms and bird-watching: these are some of the ways you can experience the rain forests in this spectacular country.

In the northern Pacific coast, in the Guanacaste province, is where you’ll find tropical dry forests. These are not nearly as dense as cloud forests, so your chances of spotting wildlife are much higher. Kayaking and horseback riding are two of the best activities in which you can indulge here.

If planning a white water rafting tour in Costa Rica you’ll be exploring what are known as lowland rain forests. These occur up to 1,000m in altitude and boast the tallest trees of all, harboring a huge number of micro environments.

At Costa Rica Rios, we strive to showcase the inherent beauty of the country’s rain forests, as it is inherently human to only protect what one knows, and loves. We are committed to promoting eco-friendly tourism, where the only things you take are unforgettable memories, and the only things you leave behind are your footprints…and just a little piece of your heart. Contact us for more info.

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Costa Rica Honeymoon Package – There’s a Perfect Package For You!

Planning a wedding is one of the most unforgettable experiences a couple will ever share.  Actually, no…planning a wedding can be quite stressful…honeymoons, however, are most definitely not! A Costa Rica honeymoon package is that unforgettable couple experience everyone would surely cherish and makes for a fitting post-wedding-stress reward.

Why?

Costa Rica honeymoon packageBecause Costa Rica is one of the world’s most sought-after honeymoon destinations, and with a Costa Rica honeymoon package, you can enjoy everything the country has to offer. Also, because between 800 miles of pristine sandy beaches, dreamy honeymoon eco-lodges, a wealth of adventure sports, couple spa-treatments and sunset nightcap spots, this country oozes romance at every turn. Naturally tailored to the honeymooning couple who shares curiosity, cultural interests and a love of the great outdoors, Costa Rica delivers more for your honeymoon-dollar than any other country. And what’s not to love about that?

Yet when all is said and done, the primary reason Costa Rica honeymoons rock is because there’s a unique kind diversity here – in everything – that allows couples to soak up whatever it is they love most. Beaches, volcanoes, rainforests, unique wildlife, exotic culture, tropical feasts, an idyllic climate and adventure activities both in and out of the crystalline waters: no matter what you dream, there’s a Costa Rica honeymoon that’s perfect for you.

Adventure Honeymoon

The rise in popularity of the adventure honeymoon in Costa Rica is testament to the fact that young couples nowadays want more from their once-in-a-lifetime vacation than only pure relaxation. They want to get their married life off to a thrilling start and Costa Rica is their ultimate springboard. From ziplining to kayaking, canyoning, white water rafting, rappelling, horseback riding, mountain bike riding, surfing, diving and more, Cosa Rica is the adventure hub all active couples dream. All of this in offer in almost every corner of the country. Travel just a couple of hours from the capital of San Jose and you can immerse yourself in pristine nature AND have a world of adrenalin-pumping activities right at your doorstep.

Short & Sweet Honeymoons

Costa Rica honeymoon packageSure, we’d all love a 3-month long honeymoon, but that’s not always an option. Part of the beauty of Costa Rica is undoubtedly its proximity to the US. Short flights and splendid deals mean a honeymoon in Costa Rica can be thoroughly enjoyed in just an inexpensive week, without the burdens of  jet lag, long flights and painfully slow transfers eating up your precious travel time. Leaving you to enjoy your honeymooning spoils from the first moment to the very last.

Luxury Adventure Honeymoon

You want the thrills but also the luxury? Costa Rica’s got you covered. This is the world’s eco-lodge capital, a superbly biodiverse nation that cares for its natural treasures and takes great measures to disturb it as little as possible. The result is a wonderful collection of superb lodges set in nature, offering varying degrees of luxury and opulence. From adults-only resorts to boutique lodges, yoga retreats, thermal spa hotels and more: you can choose your level of desired luxury without compromising on any of your activity options.

Romance Honeymoon

The ‘luna de miel’ is a big deal in Costa Rica, a country that delivers romance in spades. Amazing sunset catamaran cruises are very popular with honeymooning couples, as are private snorkeling trips and couple retreats in wellness spas where the pools are thermally heated and massages flowing. Plus, there’s the famed Costa Rica chocolate (the world’s best aphrodisiac, perhaps?) and oodles of romantic dining options, all over the country.

Costa Rica Loves LOVE

If there’s one place on earth you need not worry about indulging in PDA (public displays of affection) then Costa Rica would surely be it. Honeymooning couples love the fact that Ticos are demonstrative of their love for one another, and you’re bound to see couple hugging, holding hands and being all smoochy-cute with one another in public. Apparently, even they’re not immune to their country’s romantic vibe.

Costa Rica’s Relaxing Honeymoon Packages

You’ll no doubt want some time to relax and unwind during your Costa Rica honeymoon package, and Costa Rica’s array of glorious beach side destinations offer that ideal R&R experience you’ll need. Whether at the end or beginning of your vacation, a few days spent indulging in some sun and surf on one of the country’s best beaches will make your experience a comprehensive and very rewarding one.

Want to know more? Then contact us! We can design a Costa Rica honeymoon package that’s unique and enticing revitalizing your soul, shake your boots and get your married life off to an exhilarating start.

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The Most Famous National Landmarks in Costa Rica

The most famous national landmarks in Costa Rica take you on a whirlwind tour through the country’s long and illustrious history, showcasing the fact that Costa Rica is as rich in cultural and historical treasures as she is in nature-filled ones. From beautiful centuries-old cathedrals to opulent theatres, mysterious archaeological finds and incredible eco-tourism legacies, the following prominent landmarks beautifully complement the natural riches which have made this one of the world’s most revered travel destinations.

Include one, two or all on your next adventure vacation in Costa Rica, and make your journey a comprehensive, varied and immensely rewarding experience.

National Landmarks in Costa Rica

Museo Nacional de Costa Rica, San Jose

national landmarks in costa ricaHoused within the protective walls of a late 18th-century fortress, the country’s largest and most important museum is as enthralling in content as it is in utter visual delight. Used during the civil war of 1948 (bullet holes are still visible) the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica offers a summarized glimpse into the history of the country from pre-Columbian times right up to the present day and hosts a wealth of beautiful historical artefacts, war memorabilia and more.

The fact that the Bellavista Fortress is an absolute splendor – and the addition of a stunning butterfly-filled garden together with English-language info-boards – make this an absolute must-visit for anyone traveling through the capital.

Museo de Oro pre-Columbino, San Jose

national landmarks in costa ricaConcentrating on the pre-Columbian era, this ‘museum of gold’ gifts a fascinating look into the complex and unique attributes of Costa Rica’s ancient indigenous cultures. Found right next door to the abovementioned Teatro Nacional, the Museum of pre-Columbian Gold showcases an interesting, comprehensive and quite glistening collection of ancient gold dating back to 500AD. From animal statuettes to amulets, jewelry and coins, the collections here are incredibly interesting especially if you’re party to ancient history.

Cartago

Costa Rica’s first colonial capital is one enormous highlight and home to some of the country’s most revered national landmarks. Just a half hour’s drive south of San Jose, right on the foothills of Irazu Volcano at an altitude of more than 4,700’, Cartago was established in the mid-16th century and extensively damaged in several devastating earthquakes. Nowadays, Cartago is a striking walk-through outdoor museum, with pedestrian-only access around the ruins of the first cathedral, as well as the picturesque Our Ladies of Angels Basilica, quaint stone bridges and picturesque old houses. Fantastic eateries and plenty of hotel choices mean you could spend a couple of days exploring the town in great depth.

The Hanging Bridges of Arenal

national landmarks in costa ricaThe spectacular hanging bridges of Arenal may not be as old as Cartago but they are just as indicative of the country’s eclectic history as any ancient architecture. A superb 2-mile trail of 16 bridges – a few of which are hanging – take you on a whirlwind tour through the virgin rainforests of Arenal, as they transition from highland to lowland ecosystems, displaying flora and wildlife native to all. An interactive and unforgettable trip through the natural history of the region, the hanging bridges of Arenal offer an unrivalled chance to explore and admire more than otherwise possible from ground level.

Ancient Stone Spheres

The country’s most mysterious national landmarks are mystical granite sphere of varying sizes, found in various locations. Their exact date, use, and the culture which built them are unknown to this date, making them all the more appealing. Found primarily in the Diquis Valley, as well as Caño Island and even some of the remotest parts of the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica’s enigmatic ancient spheres – some of which weigh up to 15 tons – are mostly found in their original locations although, on Caño Island, some were moved to an ancient cemetery by the indigenous Boruca people.

Guayabo de Turrialba

Often rated as the most impressive national landmark in Costa Rica, Guayabo de Turrialba is its most prominent archaeological site and home to some of the above-mentioned spheres, as well as ancient plazas, stone carved streets, bridges, aqueducts and housing projects, some of which date back almost 3,000 years. Used as a ceremonial center, as well as being a thriving city for over two millennia, Guayabo is where some of the gold showcased in the pre-Columbian museum was found. The national monument is hidden within the luscious canopy of the rainforest flanking Turrialba Volcano, and restoration works, as well as exploratory excavations, are still ongoing and probably will be for years to come.

Megalithic Monuments at Rivas

A colossal collection of ancient pottery, musical instruments and more have been discovered in an archaeological site which dates back to the Chiriquí period in the first millennia CE. The megalithic site at Rivas, close to the capital San Jose, is a fantastic place to explore on a day out of the city and is one of Costa Rica’s most picturesque national landmarks. The modern town of Riva sits just north of the confluence of two rivers and is framed by a supremely scenic landscape. In this valley region, there have been over a dozen archaeological sites discovered dating back to the Chiriquí period and although much of the area is now covered in farming plots, there are still plenty of ruins to discover on foot. A wonderful stop-over on the way to Chirripo.

Petroglyphs of Cacao

Chocolate petroglyphs, you ask? Nooo!! The petroglyphs of Cacao Volcano in the Guanacaste Province are almost as mysterious as the granite boulders. Petroglyphs number in their hundreds and have been discovered near El Pedregal, with more discovered only recently.

An extensively larger collection of megaliths and petroglyphs have been unearthed all over Costa Rica and, although the country never boasted a powerful indigenous mega-culture (such as the Incas or Aztecs) when the Spaniards arrived, it’s clearly evident it nevertheless was home to many different ancient cultures, dating back thousands of year.

Visiting a few national landmarks in Costa Rica on your adventure tour of the country will certainly grant you the chance to explore the historical and cultural side of this marvelous country. For more info on comprehensive and eclectic adventure tours of Costa Rica, simply contact us.

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Costa Rica Honeymoon Itinerary Ideas

Costa Rica is set to celebrate the kick off the 2017 wedding season in roaring form. With projected spikes in visitor numbers, this incredibly beautiful country is once again rated as one of the world’s top 3 wedding and honeymoon destinations. The appeal is certainly easy to understand. Merely a few hours’ flight from North America, this tropical haven is utterly blessed with pristine beaches, roaring volcanoes, stellar rain forests and a plethora of unique wildlife. If that’s not enough, Costa Rica has marketed itself as an active lover’s playground, so for those looking to do more on their honeymoon than simply sit on a beach catching sun rays, this country is an absolute dream. It packs in plenty of action with romance and passion, and throws in innumerable exotic locations and an idyllic tropical climate to top it off.

So what’s not to love?

Costa Rica honeymoonYet with all the options available, choosing an itinerary that’s right for you may seem a little overwhelming. We’re here to help!

Following are some itinerary ideas and destination timelines, which will help you work out just how much you can fit into your honeymoon. Whether you have 7, 10 or 18 days at your disposal, you’ll be surprised just how much you can squeeze into your unique Costa Rica honeymoon.

Arriving in Costa Rica

There are two options for entry into the country. The first and most popular – and often the one with the cheapest flights – is the capital city, San Jose, which sits right at the heart of the country. The second, the Liberia International Airport, lies at the north-western corner. These two springboards are conveniently located and offer easy gateways for active jaunts through every corner of the country.

Getting Out and About

Costa Rica honeymoon sunsetWhilst it’s true that the infrastructure in Costa Rica has made impressive progress over the last decade, and the fact that the country isn’t all that big, transfer times are still considerable. This is why it pays to maximize your holiday time by drawing up an itinerary that includes little or no backtracking, and always including one ‘free’ day near your departure city, in case of any transport mishaps or delays.

It’s also worth remembering that every destination in Costa Rica offers multiple attractions and activities, some requiring half-day excursions while others, a full day outing. Combine this with the need for some R&R while on honeymoon (half days spent doing nothing except enjoying your beloved’s company while luxuriating in some stellar resort) and it becomes obvious that you probably wouldn’t want to spend less than 3-4 nights at each destination you visit.

One-Week Costa Rica Honeymoon

If you’re heading to Costa Rica on a one-week active honeymoon, you can count on including the two most popular destinations, Manuel Antonio and Arenal Volcano, into your itinerary. Each of these delightful destinations offers a wealth of varying attractions and activities, making for a comprehensive honeymoon vacation that’s exhilarating, romantic, relaxing and invigorating, all at once.

Conveniently enough, Manuel Antonio and Arenal are literally on the way between San Jose and the Liberia International Airport, so your point of entry will simply determine which one you’ll visit first.

Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio is often dubbed the ‘crown jewel’ of Costa Rica, given its startling collection of exceptional highlights. This amazing national park comprises lush tropical forests cascading onto a long stretch of outstanding Pacific Ocean coastline.

Once here, you can hike through rainforests, horseback ride, swim and snorkel among pristine coral reefs and mountain bike amidst brimming of coffee plantations. And that’s just day 1. For a comprehensive active honeymoon itinerary which includes the best of forest, mountains and beaches, then Manuel Antonio is where you’ll want to be. With plenty of land and water-based pursuits to keep you out and about, and stellar resorts in which to luxuriate in the evenings, Manuel Antonio offers a honeymoon escapade like no other.

Arenal Volcano – La Fortuna

La Fortuna rests right at the base of stunning Arenal Volcano, one of the world’s (former) most active peaks and one of Costa Rica’s truly romantic destinations, thanks to its array of outstanding volcanic thermal pool resorts. Luxury, comfort and romance are interwoven into the very fabric of La Fortuna, with the most famous hot springs delightfully set amidst luscious tropical rainforests. If you’re looking for a relaxing place for some post-wedding R&R, you really couldn’t pick a better place. A full day’s relaxation is on the cards, before diving straight into the adrenalin-pumping sports for which the area is revered.

On the second day of your La Fortuna adventure, it’s time to explore the amazing rainforest, by way of cable car, walking trails, hanging bridges and ziplines. There’s nothing quite like discovering this dense wonderland from every height imaginable, and in every way possible, and adding an adrenalin rush to top it off.

Want even more action? You got it! Arenal is home to exhileraying Class III and IV white water rafting rapids, and on a full-day outing you can tackle over 40 rapids on a raging river gorge that stretches form more than 30 miles. Keep your eyes on the shoreline forests – if you dare – and you may even be lucky enough to spot monkeys and sloths.

Two-Week Costa Rica Honeymoon

If you have an extra week at your disposal, then you can set off to explore the further reaches of this incredible country. Simply continue your itinerary from the one-week honeymoon idea mentioned above, and add the following exhilarating destinations.

Guanacaste

The extreme north-western region of Guanacaste is home to some of the most divine beaches in the whole country, where you can spend endless days relaxing on glistening sandy beaches, taking surfing and SUP lessons and joining snorkeling tours.

In the evening, you’ll be privy to some of the most breathtaking sunsets you’ll ever see. Popular towns (and beaches) to explore here include the ever-famous Playa Hermosa, Tamarindo and Playa Samara. Along the stretch between Playa Hermosa and Tamarindo is where you’ll find some of the country’s most exclusive honeymoon and all-inclusive resorts, so if you’re looking for a splurge during your once-in-a-lifetime Costa Rica trip, you may want to indulge right here.

Nicoya Peninsula

Heading further south, you’ll discover the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica’s wild child. This magnificent peninsula is as remote and desolate as it is stunning, and with fewer crowds around you’ll get that privacy and intimacy you’ll no doubt desire on the second week of your honeymoon.

The Nicoya Peninsula straddles two of Costa Rica’s provinces and is one of the world’s famed ‘Blue Zones’, unique corners of the world where people enjoy exceptional longevity. This is one of Costa Rica’s least developed areas and its natural attributes, a fiercely protected highlight, means it will remain unspoilt. The attractions here are numerous, so the most adventurous couples may choose to spend their entire honeymoon vacation down here. Along with its vast array of wildlife, Nicoya offers action in spades. You can hike to waterfalls, horseback ride along the beach, explore wet and dry forests and surf some of the wildest waves in the country. Make sure you include a day trip to Isla Tortuga, a striking island whose turquoise waters attract sharks and rays, and verdant forests host sloths, monkeys and a multitude of birds.

For a particularly unique way to tour the country during your honeymoon, you can take a car transfer from San Jose to Puntarenas, where a passenger ferry will take you across to Nicoya, before making your way back to San Jose through the northern reaches of Guanacaste, the Arenal Volcano area and Manuel Antonio. A two-week Costa Rica honeymoon itinerary doesn’t get any better than that.

Itching to start planning your Costa Rica honeymoon? Call us today. We have an extensive array of fantastic honeymoon itineraries you can peruse, and the priceless option of planning a bespoke, tailor-made itinerary to suit your timing, desires and budgets.

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Best Apps For Easy Traveling in Costa Rica

There’s no denying that smartphone applications have revolutionized travel to Costa Rica. Gone are the days when you had to navigate your way through this wonderful country with a paper map and just a smattering of Spanish. Nowadays, the best local info – and the means to communicate with friendly Ticos – is all right at your fingertips.

Download these apps before you leave home and, once in Costa Rica, buy a local sim-card loaded with data.  With easy access to internet – at immensely reduced prices – the best apps for easy traveling in Costa Rica will see you touring like a pro.

Apps for Easy Traveling:

GoCostaRica

goCostaRica apps for easy travelingThe brainchild of the Costa Rica Tourism Board, this app does a fine job of showing off the most impressive attractions, by means of high-res videos and photos. You can check out that waterfall you’re thinking of hiking to, or the beach you may catch a bus to, and see exactly what they look like. The only downside to this fantastic app, which is a great way of narrowing your wish-list before you even arrive, is that (so far) it’s only available for IPad download.

CRMaps

CRMaps apps for easy travelingThis is a local app that will likely become your go-to guide every day of your vacation, as it lists all major attractions and activities aimed specifically at tourists. From the best restaurants to the closest hotels, bus stops and points of interest, there’s a host of useful info and special treats to discover at each stage of your Costa Rica vacation.

Maps.Me

maps.me appGoogle maps is a fantastic GPS tool to get around town but there are certain countries, like Costa Rica, where it doesn’t quite cut it. Maps.Me, on the other hand, is extremely detailed and shows roads and trails that Google doesn’t even know exist. Moreover, you can use the app offline while traveling, without the need for an internet connection. Just download all the maps before you leave home and you’re set to go. There’s an impressive amount of details on Maps.Me, and options include choice of transport mode (on foot, by bicycle or car), and fastest route possible between two points. Since Maps.Me uses the built-in GPS on your smartphone, it means you can use it while the phone is on airplane mode, thus saving you battery time. Moreover, although other apps mentioned in this article are based on ‘maps’ they include a wealth of icons which kind of get in the way if the only thing you wish to see is that map itself.

CurrencyConverter

Currency converter appThe handy app lets you keep an eye on your expenses and updated on the exchange rate at time of purchase.

This is particularly handy if you’re planning on using your credit card for payments, or your key card at local ATMs.

WhatsApp

Whatsapp appIf you’re not using WhatsApp already, let us assure you that you certainly will by the time you come back home. WhatsApp is very popular in Costa Rica and invariably used by everyone for both business and social communication. To stay in touch with new friends or book just about anything, this texting app is essential, and will cut the need for phone calls in Spanish.

SpanishDict

More thorough than Google Translate, SpanishDict will be your savior when traveling through Costa Rica and making new local friends, although it doesn’t include all the idioms and special regional sayings for which the country is so renowned. But at least it’s a good start!

MagicSeaweed

Magicseaweed appHeading to Costa Rica to catch some waves? Then download MagicSeaweed before you leave and you’ll have all the latest surfing conditions, swells and forecasts, right at your fingertips. With more than 300 beaches covered all over the world, this handy app will be your ideal surfing companion in Costa Rica.

YoViajo

Yo Viajo appIf you’re planning on touring Costa Rica by bus – or actually, catching any bus in the country – then YoViajo is the app for you. Although the app is in Spanish, it is very user friendly and it’s easy to work out the over 800 bus routes included, countrywide, as well as their times and costs.

TripAdvisor

TripAdvisorIf you’re a frequent overseas traveler then you will no doubt be already a fan of TripAdvisor and consider it one of the best apps for Traveling in Costa Roca. This is about the most useful tool for checking personal reviews on restaurants, hotels and attractions, anywhere in the world. Down this neck of the woods, Yelp hasn’t really taken off, so TripAdvisor is your best bet for finding the most current feedback on top things to see, do buy and eat in Costa Rica.

VivaelMenu

Viva el Menu appWant to indulge in some gastronomic delights whilst in Costa Rica? Then this is the app for you. Showcasing menus and reviews of popular restaurants in your area, VivaelMenu is a great way of seeking out the hottest and best eateries in Costa Rica. Unfortunately, being a local startup, the app is only offered in Spanish for now, but if you master a few key words you’ll find this app very user friendly. You can also check out their FB page which has a host of fantastic recommendations for restaurants all over the country.

A note on UBER

UBER is in a bit of a conundrum in Costa Rica. As of right now, the service acts outside the country’s laws and there have been reports of attacks on UBER driver by vigilante taxi drivers. No tourists have ever been targeted, by the way. The best advice here is to keep well away from UBER, even though you’ll find the app operational in the capital, San Jose. It is a good idea to check UBER prices, however, because they’ll give you an idea of how much you should negotiating with local taxi drivers.

When traveling in Costa Rica, nothing will replace the knowledge of a local guide, but with these useful apps you’ll at least have a wealth of information close at hand. So check out the amazing active Costa Rica vacation packages we offer and, combined with your nifty new apps, you’ll experience this country at its fullest potential.

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3 Brilliant Wildlife Refugees to Visit in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is home to an array of fantastic wildlife refuges which do an incredible job in rescuing and protecting the country’s priceless creatures.  The land is renowned as a wildlife destination with few rivals and almost all visitors to the country come here precisely for this reason. There really isn’t a corner of the country, except the main cities, that isn’t inhabited by a kaleidoscope of unique and amazing creatures. Yet the delicate balance between man and wildlife is a precarious one, and many organizations – as well as the government – work tirelessly to ensure humans don’t encroach on the pristine wilderness on which animals thrive.

On your next trip to Costa Rica, why not include a visit to one of the many refuges which keep the country’s animal kingdom alive and thriving?

Here are 3 brilliant wildlife refuges to visit in Costa Rica.

Nosara Wildlife Refugees – Nosara

Wildlife refugees - IguanaThe protected Nosara Refuge has been sheltering and rehabilitating injured and threatened wildlife for the last two decades. Whist this was the premier animal rescue organization for the Nosara region it has now expanded its reaches and accepts animals in need from just about every corner of the country.

Orphaned possums, porcupines and various species of monkeys (especially Howler Monkeys) call this place home, and the Nosara Refuge also takes care of birds and reptiles. Aside rescuing hundreds of creatures every year, they also rehabilitate them and return them to the wild as soon as it is safely possible. If you want to do more than just ‘see’ the animals, and would love to learn more about the conservation and rehabilitation work carried out in a refuge, then you’ll find the educational visits at Nosara Refuge particularly rewarding and inspiring.

Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge – Limon

Wildlife refugees - MackawFound in the Talamanca region of south-east Costa Rica, the Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge is one of only two parks in the whole country to boast a coral reef. Here, wildlife on land competes with that underwater. In total, Manzanillo covers an astonishing 9,500 hectares of wilderness and is home to thousands of animals, including over 300 different species of birds alone.

The lusciousness of this reserve is due to the healthy amount of rains it receives, so visiting now – during dry season – is optimal. Book a guided tour on your visit and you’ll learn all about the mammals, reptiles and plants which inhabit this impressive flora and fauna haven. The hiking trails offer breathtaking views of the superb and quite dramatic coastline, and the entire area is a corner of undeveloped paradise. If you’d like to experience wilderness in its truest form then the Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge is just perfect. Due to the remoteness of the park we highly recommend visiting only with a local guide.

Hacienda Baru Wildlife Refugees, Dominical

What started off as a not-so-humble cattle ranch has transformed into one of Costa Rica’s most respected privately-run animal refuges, providing safe haven to all manner of creatures of all sizes. Covering 330 hectares of central Pacific Coast wilderness, Hacienda Baru offers exceptional chances for birdwatching and wildlife viewing.

All up, there are over 5 miles of walking trails which meander through rainforests, mangroves and grasslands. Visit Baru and you’ll see sloths, monkeys, coatis and toucans among literally hundreds of different species of fauna. The refuge runs a lodge and restaurant – whose profits fund the project – and costs only $7 to visit on your own, although the guided trips are particularly rewarding, especially if it’s your first time traveling to Costa Rica. If you’re staying in the Manuel Antonio National Park, Hacienda Baru makes for a brilliant day trip. Baru also runs a super fun Zipline tour so you can really make a whole day out of a visit.

Combine your wildlife refugees viewing journey with a week of adventure in Costa Rica, and enjoy a most unforgettable vacation.

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The Envision Festival Set to Shine its Light on Costa Rica’s Dominical!

Envision FestivalThe Envision Festival is ready to soothe, stretch and enlighten Costa Rica’s delightful Dominical province in just a couple of weeks. The experimental festival, which combines yoga, music, the arts and well-being, will be celebrating its 7th year in 2017 and is set to be the biggest and most successful to date.

With an exciting lineup of performance artists, excellent music and endless yoga and workshop practices over the long weekend, Envision aims to transport its guests into another dimension, one where the modern world seems like a million miles away. Startling sunsets, experimental music as well as tried-and-loved Reggae, Psychedelic and World tunes, all night dance-a-thons and sunrise yoga sessions on the beach. This, and more, is what you can expect when you pack your yoga mat and head to Uvita from the 23rd to the 26th February, 2017.

We must say…the organizers of Envision really couldn’t have picked a better place to hold their 4-day event. Envision embodies all that Costa Rica does best: relax, unwind, revitalize and enlighten your soul in one of the most idyllic and peaceful countries on earth. Along with 6,000 other like-minded souls, you’ll be lost in the ethereal beauty of the Costa Rican jungle. Three music stages, several group yoga sessions, art workshops, craft stalls and an array of locally-sourced organic food stalls are the backbone of Envision…whilst Costa Rica does the rest.

To find out more about ticket availability and discover the amazing line-up of acts and workshops, check out the Envision webpage.

What to See and Do Around Uvita Before, During and After Envision Festival

Costa Rica Envision FestivalIn just a few minutes’ walk from where envision is held, you can be soaking up the rays and frolicking in the surf of Playa Hermosa (Beautiful Beach in Spanish) certainly one of Dominical’s prettiest stretches of sparkling sandy shores.

The main town where the festival is held, Uvita de Osa, is just a swimstroke away from the Marino Ballena National Park, one of the most phenomenal whale-watching destinations in all of Costa Rica. Encompassing over 230 acres of pristine land wilderness, and over 13,000 marine acres of underwater treasures, Marino Ballena is the ideal place to visit in February as pods of humpback whales make their yearly migratory swims.

As temperatures soar during the days of the festival, head to the picturesque Uvita Waterfall the ideal place to visit when you want to cap off a stroll through jungle with a refreshing waterfall swim. If you’re feeling particularly active, then set your sight on Nauyaca Waterfalls instead. It may require a somewhat challenging 2-mile hike to reach it, but you can jump right off the edge of the falls to the pool below, making it an insanely fun way to end a day’s adventures.

Snorkeling and SCUBA fans can spend a day discovering the underwater treasures of Cano Island, which is easy to reach on a boat trip from Uvita. Dolphins, turtles, rays and sharks are some of the biggest marine wildlife you’ll encounter on an exciting trip out here.

From Uvita, you’ll also be within earshot of the Corcovado National Park, which is one of the world’s (not only Costa Rica’s!) most biodiverse reserves. Although Corcovado certainly warrants an adventure vacation all of its own, you can visit for a day from Uvita if you’re coming specifically to attend the Envision festival, and don’t have too many extra days up your sleeve. As we always love to say: a day spent in Corcovado I better than no days spent there at all!

For a truly spectacular activity, why not visit the Rancho La Merced wildlife refuge and take an unforgettable 2-hour sunset horseride along Playa Hermosa? Of all the ways to soak up the last day’s rays, doing it on horseback would surely rate as the best. You’ll find the refuge only a couple of miles north of Uvita town.

If you’re wishing to learn a new skill, and have a blast doing it, then you should know that the waters around the Marino Ballena beaches are ideal for SUP beginners. Calm and protected, they offer the perfect platform to learn and breathtaking landscapes that’ll do their best to distract you.

Want to know and do more when visiting Costa Rica? Then check out the brilliant adventure tours we offer and let us plan your bespoke and unrivalled adventure through this most fascinating and naturally outstanding country.

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3 of the Most Unique Wedding Venues in Costa Rica

Costa Rica weddingAll-inclusive wedding resorts are unsurprisingly popular with couples who head to Costa Rica to exchange their vows. Tailor-made to provide full wedding services – from accommodation for all guests, scrumptious feasting, wedding cakes and spectacular views – the country’s most beautiful resorts certainly offer unforgettable options for your Costa Rica wedding.

Are you looking for something a little different? You got it! In Central America’s most spectacular country, your wedding venue can be as distinctive as you are.

Here are 3 of the Most Unique Wedding Venues in Costa Rica.

Tie the Knot in a Private Villa

Costa Rica weddingBooking a private villa for your Costa Rica  wedding is a wonderful option if you still want luxury and comfort, but with the added bonus of privacy and intimacy. Not only do you and your guests get to experience a truly authentic vacation but some of the options are even more affordable than many resorts, most especially if you have quite a few guests attending your big day. Costa Rica boasts some magnificent villas for hire, which can cater for groups of anywhere from 5 to 50 guests. What’s more, although with a private villa you will have to organize all the added extras on your own, most come with in-house wedding planners, so you’ll be getting the convenience of a resort wedding anyway.

Check out the three options on BarefootVacationVillas to get a taste of what you can expect of a luxury villa set amongst stellar landscapes, or the exceptional Villa Punto de Vista (a magnificent 10-bedroom villa designed specifically for destination weddings) as well as Casa Fantastica, one of the sought-after private estates in the country.

(Photo courtesy of CostaRicaWeddingDestinations.com)

Say ‘I do’ Next to Breathtaking Waterfalls

Costa rica waterfall weddingThe La Paz Waterfalls Gardens offer one of the most spectacular wedding photos backdrop of all: five cascading waterfalls framed by luscious tropical wilderness brimming with a myriad of exotic birds. This eco-lodge is only an hour out of San Jose (perfect for long-weekend weddings) and is ideal for nature-loving romantics. Beautifully set amongst a pristine natural landscape, this incredible resort also boasts a butterfly observatory, as well as a wedding coordinator who’ll organize your perfect day from beginning to end.

Costa Rica Wedding Aboard a Catamaran

Costa Rica catamaran weddingFor a totally out-there Costa Rica wedding, nothing beats getting married aboard a luxury catamaran. The King Catamaran is a popular choice for young and energetic couples who want to kick off their married life with a big splash (sometimes literally) and what’s an incredible plus about them, is that they are experienced wedding planners and can actually take care of all your wedding plans, both on and off the catamaran. From the rehearsal dinner to the accommodation, photos and video on the day and, of course, a spectacular catamaran cruise for the ceremony.

Exchange Vows on a Glistening Costa Rica Beach

The most iconic of all tropical wedding venues would have to be a stretch of pristine beach. Luckily, Costa Rica, has tonnes of them! The Pacifico Beach Club is unlike any other resort and plans some of the most outrageously beautiful beach weddings you could ever dream. Located right on the shores of Playas del Coco on the northwest coast, PBC is perfect if you’re looking for a one-stop paradise that you and your wedding guests will absolutely love. The in-house wedding coordinator will make your life ridiculously easy, and you can rest easy knowing that the restaurant for your wedding reception is one of the best rated in the country. Walk down the sandy isle to exchange vows under a tropical flower covered arch, enjoy your cocktails and appetizers as the sun descends over the crimson horizon, and have a fantastic wedding party that we’re sure you’ll never forget.

And when vows are exchanged and photos taken…let us whisk you away to a dream Costa Rica honeymoon vacation which’ll be the ideal cherry atop your extraordinary wedding cake.

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Costa Rica’s Top Five Relaxing Retirement Havens

Costa Rica retirementCosta Rica rates as one of the best retirement havens for North Americans, with the premium and affordable health care system, ideal climate, laid-back vibe and lower cost of (tropical) living enticing Americans by the plane load every year. Yet in the last few years, there are countless others who are wisening up to the deal, and realizing that Costa Rica is one of the best expat destinations in the world, irrespective of age.

From endless stretches of pristine beaches to mountaintop locations that delight in cool temps, there are quite a few cities and towns that make for ideal expat bases. So whether you wish to spend 6 months or 6 years living in this phenomenal country, traveling solo, as a couple or with kids in tow, you’ll find several retirement havens that’s just right for you.

Costa Rica’s Top Five Retirement Havens:

1.  Costa Ballena – Puntarenas province

Costa BallenaA fave of foreign retirees, the whole Costa Ballena section of Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast boasts a collection of charming seaside towns that accost the favored sea enclave of mating humpback whales who come here every year.

Costa Ballena actually translates from Spanish as Whale Coast. Here is where you’ll find arguably the most famous beaches in all of Costa Rica. Ever heard of Playa Hermosa, Playa Dominical and Playa Tortuga? Yep…they‘re all here, along with a great degree of infrastructure which makes living here – not just vacationing – much easier. The Ballena Marine National Park faces the largest coral reef in all of Central America, so if you wish to include a lot of snorkeling and SCUBA trips, into your new and improved everyday life as an expat, this area should definitely be at the top of your wish-list. Given its popularity with North Americans and Europeans alike, the whole Costa Ballena is home to a plethora of amazing resorts and fantastic international restaurants, perhaps the best in the entire country. For the ultimate in tropical sea-change, the Costa Ballena is unsurpassed.

2.  Tamarindo – Guanacaste province

Tamarindo Costa RicaWhile not one of the cheapest places in which to live in Costa Rica, Tamarindo is still, nevertheless, one of the very best. With a thriving expat community and welcoming local one, Tamarindo is ideal if you’re dreaming of a beach life for a while. Surfing is tops, as is the wide array of restaurants. In high season, the town really comes alive and erupts with a bustling nightlife, plenty of live music and a healthy tourist crowd. For younger and more active expat singles and couples, Tamarindo just can’t be beat.

3.   Uvita – Puntarenas province

Uvita Costa RicaJust a little further south from Playa Dominical, Uvita is one of those gems that’s perfect for those who want the best infrastructure with just the right amount of privacy and feeling of ‘remoteness’. Quieter than its northern neighbors, Uvita has something really special going for it: it is the one area where the mountains, quite literally, tumble onto the sandy shores. Want cooler temperatures? All you need do is simply find a house that’s a 10 minute drive inland, and you’ll take advantage of the altitude and the more temperate climate that brings.

4.  San Jose – San Jose province

San Jose Province retirement havensBy far one of the most popular retirement havens in any country, the world over, is always the capital city. This is especially true if you wish to move here with your whole family, want access to the best schools for your children or are looking to find work locally. Although San Jose is dismissed by many visitors, who tend to use it as a mere springboard to get in and out of Costa Rica, it actually does offer plenty to the discerning expat. Ideally located right in the heart of the country and with easy access to all corners of the country – perfect for exploring your new homeland – San Jose is a great choice for those who still want a big city life, only in a much more exotic country. Aside the Costa Ballena, San Jose has the best food – and gastronomic options – in the whole country. A great art scene, including theater shows and museum events satisfies the culture buff, and a vibrant nightlife the younger and more spirited expat.

5.  Central Valley

If a hot tropical climate is not your idea of a perfect year-long life then you ought to head to Costa Rica’s Central Valley, where altitudes hover between 2 and 5,000 feet and temperatures stay a stunning 70 degree Fahrenheit all year long. The proximity to San Jose makes for easy expat living, as do the lovely array of gated communities and smaller authentic towns which host quite a few expats already. Cartago and Alajuela are a top choice if you want the best infrastructure and mod cons, whilst Grecia and Atenas are home to expats who prefer to mingle with locals and enjoy a more rural and relaxing life.

Costa Rica is indeed an exceptional expat haven and – more than anything else – a superb adventure vacation destination. No matter where you choose to live, you’ll have the best of the country at your fingertips. Amazing hiking opportunities, stupendous seaside vacations and a host of adrenaline sports and activities to keep you fit, healthy and very happy.

Want to experience a taste of the Pura Vida, with the added bonus of an adrenalin rush? Then join us on an unforgettable Costa Rica adventure vacation and come see for yourself why thousands of foreigners fall in love with this addictive country…year after year.

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Delights of Visiting Costa Rica in Green Season

green seasonThe months between May and November are called the ‘green season’ for a reason, with an abundance of rainfall transforming almost the whole country into a luscious, verdant green wonderland.

Of course, rains are all well and good if you’re a thirsty plant and need to flower, but for tourists they can present some disadvantages. The wonderful thing, however, is that as far as we’re concerned, the Delights of Visiting Costa Rica in Green Season far outweigh the disadvantages.

Wanna know why? Read on and find out!

Rain is Not Constant

With a little more time up your sleeve, you can still have an amazing vacation irrespective of where you go. The most popular hubs of Arenal and Manuel Antonio National Parks can receive heavy falls even for a couple of consecutive days, but that’s about it. If you include a few extra days for potential wash-outs, you’ll still be left with the greater portion of your vacation blissfully rain free. Moreover, full day rainfalls are quite unusual, with most mornings being dry and sunny, and rains only faling for a few hours in the late afternoon.

It’s the Best Time to Surf on the Pacific Coast

If you’re an experienced an avid surfer you will probably already know that the wettest months of September and October are actually the best surfing months of all. On the Pacific Coastline, swells, tides, and waves are at their stellar best, so if you want to nab some BIG waves the Green Season will hit the spot.

Hiking is Amazing – Just Bring Your Gumboots!

Hike Rincón de la Vieja National ParkCoastal forests are at their most glorious best during Green Season, and mud notwithstanding, offer a visual spectacle like no other. Not only is the flora resplendent, but wildlife is also plentiful, as creatures need not roam too far and wide for essential water.

Forest hikes in Costa Rica during green Season may be messy, but gosh are they outstanding too.

Lower Prices, Less Competition and Fewer Tourists

Every year, we meet plenty of visitors who head over to Costa Rica in the Green Season just so they can feel they have the country to themselves. In such a popular and visited country, this priceless luxury is quite the scoop. Visiting during Green Season means that accommodation is plentiful and prices are at their yearly low (same goes for excursions and flights), ideal both for frugal travelers and those who are visiting on a spontaneous whim. Our best advice would be to use the lower price to your advantage by taking a longer vacation, rather than a cheaper one in general.

The Caribbean Side is at its Best

Caribbean adventureThe Pacific coast of Costa Rica is perfect to visit in Green Season if you don’t mind the inconvenience of some rain to soak up the luxury of smaller crowds. Yet if you don’t want to compromise on anything at all, it’s the Caribbean side you should be visiting.

Costa Rica may be a small country, yet its topography means that the two coastlines enjoy drastically different weather patterns. Whilst the west is somewhat soggy in September and October, the east is sublimely dry. Funnily enough, the Caribbean coast is actually quite wet for most of the year, but only when the rest of the country falls under the spell of rain season, does the driest spell occur here.

The Caribbean side of the country is a spectacular natural playground, where swimming, snorkeling, hiking, and kayaking is on offer, and the entire length of the region boasts amazing nature reserves chock-full of wildlife. This is arguably the most remote part of the country, and the one with the least amount of infrastructure, but if you have some time up your sleeve you’ll discover a truly magnificent corner of Costa Rica. Popular destinations here are Cahuita and its glorious national park (a hiking and snorkeling haven), Tortuguero (an important turtle nesting hub) and Puerto Viejo (the best surfing spot on this side and ideal if you want an active vacation).

There are Always Exceptions

Last year, 2015, was a particularly dry year which left the Pacific side with very little rain during the (normally) wettest months. Bonus for those who were there! So although 2016 is expected to reverse this effect, with a particularly wet season expected, it pays to note that the weather is as it’s always been: unpredictable. Nothing is ever guaranteed, so as long as you visit Costa Rica in the Green Season with an open mind, and adventurous spirit and nothing set in stone, you’re still bound to have a totally amazing time.

We have a bevy of unforgettable trips running in September and October, and all through the year…from fun-filled 8-day adventure tours to whitewater kayaking vacations, as well as a myriad of tailor-made adventure trips that’ll take you to the best corners of the country at any time of year. So don’t let a few drops of rain ruin your dream! Book your Costa Rica trip today and you can look forward to an unparalleled Green Season adventure.

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