Tag Archives: Costa Rica

Costa Rica Honeymoons 2020/21– The Most Exquisite Remote Lodges You Need To Know About

Given the sheer concentration of stunning lodges sprawled across Costa Rica’s luscious wilderness, socially-distanced honeymooning options abound. Want to enjoy a magnificent honeymoon in the land of startling beaches, dramatic volcanoes and unbelievable natural beauty whilst still keeping COVID-safe?

These are the most exquisite (and exquisitely remote) honeymoon lodges in Costa Rica you need to know about!

 

Costa Rica Honeymoons in Coronavirus Times

During and post COVID-19, Costa Rica is set to be among the most hotly-contested honeymoon destinations in the world. The Latin American country that’s showcased one of the best COVID-19 responses is also the one with the lowest numbers of infections and casualties. Travelers who feel confident to travel and are searching for a safe adventure vacation destination couldn’t choose a better spot to take their much-awaited holiday abroad.

Since opening up to the rest of the world once more on August 2nd, tourist crowds are kept at bay thanks to restricted entry numbers. Only a handful of international flights are allowed to enter Costa Rica every week so, once here, you can also expect the country to be blissfully uncrowded, even during the (usual) peak-tourism period between January and April, 2021.

Remoteness and social distance are part and parcel of adventure honeymoons in our shores at the best of times and we expect more couples will be looking for exclusivity and isolation. Luckily, romance, privacy and uncrowded havens are what Costa Rica does best!

Here are the spots we think you’ll enjoy most:

Lapas Rio Lodge, Osa Peninsula

Right at the convergence between the Golfo Dulce and the Pacific Ocean, in Cabo Matapalo, there hides a breath-taking lodge set amidst 1,000 acres of amazing tropical wilderness. Ideal for the consummate wilderness and adventure-loving couple, Lapas Rio is one of Costa Rica’s most astonishing gems, set in one of its most magnificent pockets of nature. Unspoiled and wild, inhabited by a flurry of unique wildlife and feeling about as far away from everywhere as can be, this 5* treasure offers plenty of active pursuits (kayaking, jungle hiking, waterfall chasing, bird spotting, surfing, horseback rides and more), just a handful of drop-dead-gorgeous private lodges, an in-house restaurant, pool and seriously divine services. If you’re looking for that all-inclusive indulgence and an unforgettable adventure all in one, Lapas Rio is for you.

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Plan Your Trip

 

The Peace Lodge @ La Paz Waterfall, Volcano Poas National Park

The name really says it all: The Peace Lodge is all about privacy and tranquility and, while we’re at it, eye-popping jungle views to match. Conveniently located in Heredia, this 3* lodge is much more impressive than its rating may convey and much of it has to do with its setting. Nestled within the magical gardens of the La Paz Waterfall reserve, the lodge is literally enveloped by luscious jungles and dramatic waterfalls. Intricately carved into shape by the hands of Costa Rica’s master builders, The Peace is often referred to as a living work of art. The exposed beams are polished to perfection and the décor perfectly suits the jungle surroundings. The highlight here, which is the nature that frames the lodge, is given ample space to shine thanks to the oversized windows and sensational open-air terraces. The food, service and amenities are outstanding and, of course, you’ll have free run of the reserve so you can visit the many attractions during your stay, at no extra charge.

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Hacienda Barrigona, Nicoya Peninsula

Just north of beautiful Playa Samara on the south-western coast of the uncrowded Nicoya Peninsula, Barrigona is one of Costa Rica’s most hidden of gems. This gorgeous place boasts only 10 guest rooms and is a haven of tranquility in a stunning corner of Nicoya. A leisurely 15-minute walk will see you reach the unspoiled swimming beaches, and you’ll also find plenty of nature hiking trails within the 500-acre property, where colorful birds and monkeys abound. More of a private luxury villa than your standard honeymoon lodge, Barrigona is especially popular with those planning an all-in-one Costa Rica wedding and honeymoon vacation because it can be booked entirely for one party.

How’s that for a socially distanced paradise?

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Plan Your Trip

 

Rio Celeste Hideaway, Tenorio Volcano National Park

Just a few feet away from the entrance to the Tenorio Volcano National Park, the Rio Celeste Hideaway is a 4* lodge that’s ideal for honeymooning couple who want to explore Costa Rica a little off the usual trail. Tenorio is revered for its incredible biodiversity and the surrounding area comprises dry forests and luscious jungles, volcanic peaks, waterfalls and the most incredible turquoise river you’ll ever see. A hiker’s dream base, this lodge is all about enjoying the wilderness whilst having plenty of indulgences to boot: wonderful cuisine, a fabulous swim-up bar incorporated in the sapphire-hued pool and gorgeous cabins boasting indoor jacuzzies and outdoor showers. This place is wonderfully atmospheric and the direct access to the world-famous Rio Celeste just one reason to stay.

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Nature Lodge Finca Los Caballos, Nicoya Peninsula

Another Nicoya treasure to be discovered – this time on the eastern coast – Los Caballos is a wonderful option if you’re looking for a more affordable honeymoon lodge in Costa Rica yet one which offers just as many delights as its 5-starred counterparts. Set high on verdant hills above the charming and still traditional town of Montezuma and offering splendid ocean views, this enchanting finca is super comfortable and immensely cozy. Quiet and contemplative, the lodge is all about soaking up the sounds and feel of the jungle – waking up to howler monkeys and chirping toucans suits the nature lover to a T. Whilst there’s plenty to see, do and devour in Montezuma town, the lodge itself is about relaxation and serenity: a honeymooning couple’s ideal mix.

 

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Costa Rica’s best and remotest honeymoon lodges may differ in terms of setting, atmosphere and offerings, yet they all have one main commonality: these are the best options if you’re seeking exceptional adventures, plenty of romance and privacy with the added bonus of sublime social isolation away from big tourist crowds.

If you’d love some help in planning an adventure honeymoon vacation in Costa Rica, contact us below. Before you settle on a region or itinerary, however, read our comprehensive Costa Rica Honeymoon Guide for 2020/21.

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US & Canada: 888 434-0776 | UK: 0800 612 8718 | International: +1 920 434-7485

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The Safest Adventure Vacations in Costa Rica – Your Guide to Private & Bespoke Tours

Private and bespoke Costa Rica adventure tours have always been hugely popular here, at Costa Rica Rios, yet if there’s a time when we’re expecting them to truly boom it will be during the 2020/21 holiday season.

The safest and most rewarding way to enjoy a thrill-filled adventure is on a private tour, where your vacationing party – be it your closest friends or family members – are the only company you’ll have.

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The addition of private transfers and the freedom to choose the right accommodation also play a huge role in making bespoke adventure tours so very popular at any time, let alone during a global pandemic. Combined with a bevy of safety precautions that are easy to follow and cause minimal disruptions to travel, private tours are the ideal solution to our current conundrum: enjoying a stint of adventure travel in one of the most rewarding countries on earth whilst keeping safe and healthy.

The most oft-asked questions about private and bespoke tours to Costa Rica answered…right here!

Plan Your Trip

 

Why should I travel to Costa Rica in 2020/21?

Costa Rica has reported about the best outcome in the entire Latin American region – a swift response meant that the country’s borders were closed to the outside world merely days after the first COVID-19 infection was even reported. Moreover, the good results were not just a matter of isolation: Costa Rica has staggered an easing of restrictions since mid-May, slowly getting the country back to normal (travelling included) whilst keeping infection numbers at bay.

Whilst the return of tourism is obviously much-needed here, the government doesn’t want tourist back ‘at any price’. The well-being of locals and foreigners alike is at the forefront of priorities and, when you travel to Costa Rica and follow safety protocols as laid out by regional governments, you can be assured your risk of COVID infection are kept at an absolute minimum.

Reached easily and swiftly via direct and non-stop flights from several locations, Costa Rica is one of the best vacation destination choices post-COVID, no matter where you’re from. European travel agents are promoting Costa Rica alongside all known countries that have fared well during the pandemic.

More importantly, however, Costa Rica makes social distancing easy – adventure vacations here are very much focused on getting you into nature and keeping you there for the duration of your trip.

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What’s the safest way to enjoy an adventure vacation in Costa Rica right now?

The fewer people you have contact with, the lesser the risk of contracting any kind of infectious disease – this is as true at home as it is when you travel to Costa Rica.

Bespoke tours are packaged and organised tours that are tailored to you and your private travel party alone. You’ll get a driver and guide that’ll stay with you the entire time and will not have to share your private space with anyone else. Choose to travel with immediate family members only and your contact with outsiders will arguably be less here in Costa Rica, on vacation, than you’d ordinarily have back home.

Family and small group adventure vacations will undoubtedly be the best choices for travel this year and next.

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Bespoke private tours deliver that ultimate balance between safety and travel freedom

Plan Your Trip

 

Does it matter where you stay once you arrive?

Yes, it does. The country’s many mega-resorts may have been popular in recent years yet the demand for smaller and more isolated eco-lodges is bound to be at an all-time high this year. Skip the buffet meals and overcrowded dining rooms and, instead, look forward to wilderness-infused eco-lodges set in some of the most spellbinding nature in Costa Rica.

Choosing smaller and less-crowded accommodation options isn’t just safer: in a country like Costa Rica, whose forests are replete with incredible wilderness, choosing smaller, quieter and more remote lodges means your unique journey is made all the more special and rewarding. This is the reason our adventure tours typically include only stays in these kinds of lodges.

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Do you have to steer clear of the most popular national parks?

Not necessarily. Ironically, travelling to normally-crowded hot-spots will be a lot more rewarding in 2020/21 because crowds will be drastically reduced. Costa Rica’s national parks have been reopened for 2 months, at 50% capacity, which means trails are uncrowded and, even in super famous places, you can feel like you have the whole place to yourself. You can still include popular highlights like Arenal, Manuel Antonio and Monteverde on your private bespoke tour – we’ll just plan your visit in a way and at a time when you’re likely to encounter far fewer fellow tourists.

A huge part of Costa Rica’s appeal is that keeping away from people is super easy at any given time, let alone during this current period when visitor numbers are restricted.

 

Which airlines fly to Costa Rica, right now?

Whilst many people are worried about their safety risks during the flight to Costa Rica, the risks are statistically very low. Nevertheless, you can trust airlines to take all necessary measures to keep passengers safe. Why? Because any potential outbreaks of COVID on a flight will ground the airline in question and, potentially, close airports and no-one wants to see that happen.

At time of writing, Costa Rica is planning to open its borders to residents of the European Union, the UK and Canada on August 2, with only half a dozen flights allowed to arrive every week.

We expect airline services to get back to a semi-normal routine by the end-of-year vacation time (December, 2020) and for more nationalities to be allowed entry although, as you can understand, this is a very fluid situation so it’s imperative you keep updated on the latest news.

When you’re ready to book your flight, simply ask your travel agent to confirm availability of flights (and choice of airlines) departing from your nearest international airport.

We urge all prospective visitors to Costa Rica to take out comprehensive travel insurance that includes COVID-related benefits, such as for flight delay and cancellation. Given that some entry restrictions are expected to stay in place for a few months, we do expect seats to book out fast – take advantage of current benefits offered by airlines and book your seat on a plane as soon as it becomes available. Many airlines are also not charging extra for changes to the departure date, on your side.

Plan Your Trip

 

What else can I do to keep safe when traveling to Costa Rica?

There’s actually plenty you can do to keep safe and healthy, even before you hit our shores. Here are a few safety tips we’ve gathered from expert websites:

  1. Drive yourself to the airport or organize private transport – now is not the time for bus/train trips
  2. Make sure no-one comes to see you off – the fewer people at the airport, and the less time you spend there, the better. People are less likely to stop for a coffee or a bite to eat at the airport if there’s no-one there to see them off
  3. Research the latest changes to your airport’s check-in procedure – these are likely to have changed so give yourself plenty of time and know where to park/check in
  4. Pack your own mask and your personal hand sanitizer – use them!
  5. Check if airlines are restricting meal services – pack your own food
  6. Stay at least 6ft away – minimize your contact with others and move through enclosed areas as quickly as possible
  7. Relax – With a mask, good hand hygiene and social distancing, there’s absolutely no need to panic on your flight

See more guidelines published by the US Travel Association

Bespoke Adventure Tours with Costa Rica Rios – A Quick Overview

In Costa Rica, our bespoke and private adventure tours pack an awesome thrill-filled punch. We take you to remote regions that normally see fewer tourists, we explore wilderness areas that are unspoiled, uncrowded and UNBELIEVABLY stunning and we offer everything you could possibly ever need for an unforgettable adventure vacation: daily thrills including whitewater rafting and kayaking, mountain biking, zip-lining, rappelling, canyoning, horseback riding (and so much more), private transfers, overnight stays in isolated smaller eco-lodges and fantastic meals.

Our tours can include visits to charming small towns and gorgeous eco-farms if you’d love to add a culture-fix to your tour but they also don’t need to if you’d prefer to simply stay in nature the entire time. Our expert activity guides and drives can be the only social contact you have here in Costa Rica – airport transfers excluded, of course.

With plenty of easy-to-follow safety instructions and a dedicated service that delivers all the fun minus any of the hassle, your 2020/21 adventure vacation plans in Costa Rica need not be dramatically disrupted. In fact, after such a stressful global event as this current COVID-19 crisis, it may just be the most amazing adventure your soul needs.

 

Here are a few ideas on how to Plan Your Trip to Costa Rica:

When you build your own adventure vacation itinerary – simply click on the link above – you can detail your needs and desires: how many people are travelling and what are their ages, how much adventure would you like, what kind of activities do you want to try out and, specifically, what kind of destination are you after? Telling us your budget range and the kind of accommodation you’d like will also help us devise the ideal itinerary for your bespoke adventure.

Many private tour guests also choose to simply follow and copy the itinerary of one of our top Costa Rica adventures. We’ve gone to a lot of trouble to plan itineraries that offer the perfect balance of adventure, relaxation, culture, wildlife and, of course, oodles of wilderness experiences so it’s easy to simply say “this is exactly what I’d love to do!” and we’ll tailor it to you, specifically.

Check out our Top 4 Costa Rica Rios Adventure Vacations – where you’ll find something suitable for everyone.

Whether you’re looking for a private and bespoke vacation package for two or ten of you, we have the right inspiration:

Contact us today to discuss your plans to visit Costa Rica in 2020/21 and we’ll endeavour to create the safest travel plan of all: a private adventure tour that’ll make you feel as if you have the whole magical country to yourself!

 

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US & Canada: 888 434-0776 | UK: 0800 612 8718 | International: +1 920 434-7485

 

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Costa Rica Hiking Guide – Cerro Chirripó

Costa Rica’s highest peak is one of the most coveted hiking challenges in the country, one that rewards hard-core mountaineers with astonishing views and the priceless chance to explore, on foot, some of the most unique wilderness on earth. With our Costa Rica Hiking Guide to Chirripó, we’ll guide you virtually up to this incredible 12,536ft (3,821m) peak and through exceptional cloud forests that are only found in the Latin American tropics.

Given the options for multi-day hiking excursions, Cerro Chirripó is doable for just about anyone with a decent level of fitness. Yes, you can smash up this bad-boy in just a single day if you wanted to but you can also take it easy, enjoy the ascent, and spend a few days lost in its outstanding nature.

The choice, as always, is yours.

 

Chirripó

Plan Your Trip

 

Where is Cerro Chirripó?

Located in the San Jose Province, only a 3hr-drive east of the capital city, Cerro Chirripó is the crown jewel of the Talamanca Mountain range. Rising from the Caribbean coast in Costa Rica’s south-eastern region, the Talamancas reach their peak with Chirripó before descending, on the west, all the way to the Pacific. In its southern fringes, the range marks the border between Costa Rica and Panama

The base-town for Cerro Chirripó hikes is San Gerardo de Rivas, a small village that caters to hikers and sits about a third of the way up the mountain, at an altitude of 4,00ft (1, 220m).

 

What’s so special about this Costa Rica hike?

Considered the wildest range in Central America and the highest of non-volcanic origin, Talamanca doesn’t just impress with its stunning high peaks. The range boasts unique high-altitude tropical rainforests and is inhabited by a wide range of wildlife found both in South and North America. It is, for all intents, the wildlife land-bridge between the two continents.

Here, you’ll see lakes and valleys that were carved and shaped by glaciers over 20,000 years ago and will experience an array of microclimates that have enticed the growth of an eclectic variety of flora species. You’ll literally experience more variety of nature here than in several countries combined. On a crystal-clear day, you’ll soak up unbelievable views of both of Costa Rica’s coastlines from the very peak of Chirripó. What’s more, the mountains and their surrounding forests are also home to several indigenous tribes so this whole area holds as high a cultural value as much as it does a wilderness one.

For all these reasons, as well as for the fact that Chirripó, is also the highest in all of Central America, the range is now a UNESCO-listed national park.

Due to its remoteness and relative inaccessibility, the Talamancas have remained blissfully unspoilt. When you decide to hike Cerro Chirripó, therefore, you won’t just be taking on a challenging mountain ascent: you’ll be entering one of the most prized and biodiverse mountain reserves in the world.

 

How long does it take to ascend Chirripó?

The hiking trail to Cerro Chirripó starts just outside San Gerardo at the entrance of the national park, and stretches for 9mi (15km) on a relatively steep ascent. As mentioned earlier, hard-core and experienced hikers love to challenge themselves by completing a full ascent in just a single, brutal hiking day although, for sheer recreational purposes and to really enjoy the amazing experience, you’ll want to stretch this to a 2-3-day hike.

Refugios, or hiking huts, are scattered about the trail to cater to hikers, a convenient bonus given free-camping here is prohibited.

 

Chirripó

 

Plan Your Trip

 

When is the best time to hike Cerro Chirripó?

The park sees a healthy amount of rain all year-long (Chirripó means Land of Eternal Waters) and this high-altitude terrain also enjoys unpredictable rain at any time of year. Best tackled during the dry season, from January to April, Chirripó will still require you to be fully-prepared for all climatic eventualities.

 

Chirripó

 

What to know before you go?

***Update April, 2020*** The park is having contractual issues with SINAC, the company that’s been in charge of permit issuing for a number of year. At time of writing, entry is ‘on hold’ but we expect the situation to be resolved shortly as the park, and its main hiking trail, bring in a much-needed economic boost to this agricultural region. Please let us know if you intend hiking Cerro Chirripó on your Costa Rica adventure tour in 2020 and we’ll keep you abreast of all the latest developments.

Here are some thing should know before planning your visit:

  • The busiest weekend of the year for Cerro Chirripó hikes is Easter long-weekend as it’s not only a national holiday (a time when Ticos travel) but also at the tail-end of the popular dry season. Permits for this and all other peak times should be made a few months in advance
  • Don’t be fooled by the latitude of Cerro Chirripó as temperatures and climbing conditions can be erratic. This may be a mountain in the tropics but the peak is by no means tropical – in fact, it can be downright freezing up here so pack accordingly (more on that, below)
  • Altitude sickness can be a real threat at this altitude so know what red flags you should be looking for. Chances you’ll feel the effects are higher if you choose to hike Chirripó in one day rather than take it easier and stretch your ascent over several days
  • A one-day hike usually takes 12 rather full-on hours. The trail isn’t all steep, in fact, the first two-thirds are quite gradual. However, the trail is long with the last section, the steepest, requiring some serious stamina
  • On a two-day hike, you can tackle one long hike to the base camp at km14.5 along the trail (9mi), Crestones. Start Day 1 at dawn and enjoy the usually crystal-clear morning and, Day 2, set off from Crestones at 3am, so you can reach the peak at dawn. It makes for a truly magical experience
  • Permits are NOT issued at the ranger station outside San Gerardo and have, so far, been only available online through SINAC. The booking system has been notoriously user-unfriendly which is the reason agencies, like us here at Costa Rica Rios, take on the logistical hassle of securing permits for our guests
  • Crestones Base Camp boasts a number of trails to other peaks and, if you have the time, you can easily spend a few days based here and take on alternative trails for a truly comprehensive hiking experience
  • Even though San Gerardo is just a cute little pueblito, you’ll find a surprising array of hiking food and snacks so no need to stock-up ahead of time
  • You’ll find a sweet rest stop, Llano Bonito, about half-way to Crestones, where you can buy some snacks and drinks
  • The area around Cerro Chirripó is home to plantations you can visit and a host of other phenomenal attractions and adventure activities – there’s a lot to see and do here aside from climbing the main peak and we can help you plan a multi-activity adventure tour in this area
  • No matter what time of year you choose to ascent Chirripó, expect below-freezing temperatures at the peak so make sure you pack thermals and warm hiking gear
  • Want to make the whole experience a little easier? We can organise a porter or pack-horse for your hike. This is an inexpensive but priceless help and your knees will be particularly thankful
  • Don’t forget to pack a head-lamp for the pitch-black ascent to the peak

 

Ready to tackle the most famous and unforgettable hike in all of Costa Rica? See all the ways we can help with securing permits, discover the top 7 hiking destinations in the country and, as always, contact us to know more.

Costa Rica Rios Adventure Vacations

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US & Canada: 888 434-0776 | UK: 0800 612 8718 | International: +1 920 434-7485

 

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Discover the Surreal Gardens of Zarcero

Rated among the world’s most beautiful botanical gardens, Parque Francisco Alvarado is an ornamental treasury of fantastical shapes. Designed in the 1960s, the park makes use of its stunning conifer cypresses which are trimmed and shaped into an array of super fun shapes.

Located in the charming town of Zarcero, the surreal gardens of Alvarado are a must-see for anyone visiting Costa Rica and looking for an off-beat attraction.

Zarcero

 

Where is Zarcero?

Zarcero is only an hour’s drive north-west from the capital, San Jose, and can easily be visited on a day-trip or on a stopover if you’re driving to popular hubs like Arenal, Monteverde and Manuel Antonio. Unless you have private transport – which we can include on all our Costa Rica adventure vacation packages – you’ll need to take a bus, which leaves from the bus terminal of Alajuela, known locally as the Coca Cola Terminus.

If opting for public transport, you can use Rome2Rio to work out your bus route.

 

What are the Zarcero gardens all about?

The botanical Alvarado gardens of Zarcero sit at the heart of the town, right by its stunning San Rafael Church on the main square. The park’s entrance is a row of more than a dozen archways, carved from cypress, which lead the way into a manicured garden filled with cypress-carved animals and abstract shapes of all sizes.

 

Zarcero

 

The surreal Zarcero gardens were designed and sculpted by the park’s curator, Don Evangelista Blanco, in 1964. Over the years, Blanco has carved everything from helicopters to dinosaurs, monkey-ridden motorbikes, traditional Tico oxcarts, animals and people of all shapes and sizes. Up until his dismissal in 2016, Blanco could still be seen tending to his prized garden creation, donning his signature fedora hat and holding a pair of garden shears. Don Blanco’s dismissal caused quite a stir in the tight-knit community and even though the local authorities found the reasoning to be somewhat adequate – after all, Don Blanco’s health was failing and the church was fearful of a workplace accident– they were still critical of his unceremonious dismissal. The fact that the matter was even investigated, and that a petition was drawn up to declare the park a national treasure, speaks volumes as to its standing in the community.

Zarcero Park is a popular local hang-out spot and acts as the true epicentre of town. There’s street-art on the outer walls and, in summer, the gardens are blanketed by a myriad of colourful flower beds. This is one of the most delightful urban parks to explore in all of Costa Rica.

Alvardo Park

 

Plan Your Trip

What’s there to see and do in Zarcero, aside from the gardens?

The town Itself may not seem like it holds too much interest for tourists yet, if you were to stay for a night, you’ll find its authenticity utterly charming. This is a great place to visit if you’d love a look-see into a more traditional Costa Rica way of life.

Zarcero, a small town of only about 4,200 inhabitants, sits at an altitude of 1,700m (5,500ft), flanking the Cordillera Central range. Given its temperate-to-cool climate and mountainous surroundings, it is a popular weekend-getaway destination for city folks from San Jose, especially during the hottest and stickiest months of the year. Although not exactly crazy-popular with foreign tourists, the town still gets quite busy on weekends so if you’d like to visit at a quieter time, try to get here on a weekday.

Revered for its organic, locally-grown produce, Zarcero is, at the very least, a very delicious place to stop for a lazy lunch with a host of cafés and restaurant serving up amazing and authentic dishes. The local fresh cheese, a tastier and slightly drier version of mozzarella, is one of the best produce specialties of the town and an absolute highlight in the region. Nearby, you’ll find several dairy farms, some of which you can visit. When driving from San Jose, keep a lookout for street stands selling queso palmito and buy some for your road trip north.

 

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Whilst visiting, also look out for delicious crystallised grapefruit snacks filled with sweetened milk, vine-ripened tomatoes and a host of organic tropical fruits.

Nearby, you can pay a visit to Finca Organica Tierra de Suenos, one of Zarcero’s most prized organic farms. Take a tour or simply let them know you’ll be coming through to stock up on some delicious produce.

 

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The main draw in town, aside from the surreal gardens, is the San Rafael Church, a beautifully-designed 19th-century church showcasing an ornate and outstanding interior with paintings depicting the stations of the cross.

 

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Plan Your Trip

What to see and do on a daytrip to Zarcero?

Here are some ideas of nearby activities and attractions that you could combine on a north-bound trip to Zarcero:

Juan Castro Blanco National Park – Just east of town is where you’ll find one of the most enchanting yet lesser-known of Costa Rica’s national parks. Known as ‘the park of the waters’, Castro Blanco covers a stunning area of mid-level cloud forests framed by three long-extinct volcanic peaks, all over 2,000m (6560ft) in altitude. Many prime rivers have their source right here, and the park encompasses three unique rainforest ecosystems at differing altitudes. This area is renowned for its extensive flower farms, many of which export their magnificent flowers all over North America. The park isn’t yet built for tourism, except for a super-luxe resort that attracts VIPs from all over the world. Trails are few and far between and camping is about the only way to experience this incredible and unspoiled wilderness. A particularly ideal destination for bird-lovers, Blanco is a great place if you’re in search of the ethereal Quetzal.

 

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Bajos del Toro Reserve – One of the most spectacular hidden treasures of the Costa Rican central wilderness, the privately-owned Bajos del Toro Reserve borders Juan Castro Blanco and offers sensational wilderness experiences way off the beaten path. With its crystalline waterfalls and verdant forests, Toro is a sublime wildlife and wilderness destination for hikers, home to two of Costa Rica’s most splendid waterfalls: the aptly-named Tesoro Escondido (hidden treasure) and Toro Amarillo. Don’t forget to pack your swimsuit and, if you want to extend your visit, check out the awe-inspiring El Silencio Lodge & Spa, one of Costa Rica’s very best jungle lodges.

 

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Tree House Hotel – Fringing the Children’s Eternal Rainforest, north-west of Zarcero, the Tree House Hotel is an exquisite accommodation for anyone looking for remoteness and exclusivity. Stay in a luxury treehouse and enjoy the spoils of an astonishing property that houses its own wildlife refuge and offers lucky guests a wealth of exciting activities. This is, by far, one of our favorite unplugged luxury stays in the entire country.

La Fortuna & Arenal – Zarcero is about halfway between San Jose and the bustling activities capital of La Fortuna, the base for Arenal Volcano adventures. This is arguably the most visited area of Costa Rica and a region that offers just about everything that makes our wonderful country so famous. Waterfalls and dormant volcanoes, hiking, ziplining, wildlife-watching and therapeutic hot-springs, alongside horseback riding, mountain bike riding, farm-visiting and, among this extensive cache of amazing experiences, among the best whitewater rafting and kayaking in all of Costa Rica.

Here, you’ll find a wide range of stunning hot-spring hotels and an array of adrenaline-packed Arenal activities.

Learn more about all the amazing things to do in Arenal and you’ll soon discover how easy it is to turn a quick one-day-trip to Zarcero’s surreal gardens into the most unforgettable, action-packed vacation of your life.

See our most popular Adventure Vacations in Costa Rica and, when you’re ready to shake off the quarantine cobwebs, contact us to know more.

 

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US & Canada: 888 434-0776 | UK: 0800 612 8718 | International: +1 920 434-7485

 

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Stuck at home? Get Your Costa Rica Travel Fix!

With so many travelers stuck at home and forced to postpone their Costa Rica travel plans, we thought we’d help keep your wanderlust alive by sharing some of our favorite experiences that’ll be right here, waiting for you to finally visit. As we all take a deep breath and ride out this crazy Covid-19 global crisis, a virtual travel fix may be just what our soul needs most.

Ready for a Costa Rica vacation of your dreams? Then settle in with a cup of coffee (or better still, a Pura Vida rum punch) and let your imagination take flight – these are the most magical experiences you can enjoy once we’ve kicked this pandemic to the curb!

 

Enjoy the uncrowded treasures of Costa Rica (and keep the good side of social distancing going!)

Social distancing may be a new term in our neck of the woods but, in Costa Rica, it’s part and parcel of every nature-drenched adventure vacation. Getting away from it all is simply too easy here and that’s the main reason Costa Rica is rated one of the most delightful, rejuvenating and soul-reviving holiday destinations on earth. Yes, you may be craving some social time, we get it, but you may also have started to appreciate aloneness, peace, and blissful quiet. We get that too.

There are quite a few uncrowded places we love to visit when we get some down-time and not all of them are in the back of beyond. Costa Rica is actually filled with lesser-known and lesser-visited places hidden in plain sight, even in the most touristed areas. When we’re in Guanacaste, we love taking a day out and going horseback riding in Rincon de la Vieja. This is one of our country’s most beautiful national parks but, for whatever mysterious reasons, it just doesn’t see the crowds of other parks. Just the ticket for a bit of delightful explorations.

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Closer to home, we love spending a few hours soaking our tired bones in the gorgeous Titokú Hot Springs, one of Arenal’s best-kept secrets and a small but ridiculously charming natural hot-spring center. In this case, Titokú is lesser-visited because it’s surrounded by much more prominent hot-spring resorts so it tends to get lost in the crowd. Fabulous!

horseback riding

 

If you’re dreaming of a remote and uncrowded region where to spend some serious time, then you really shouldn’t hike past the Osa Peninsula, home to Costa Rica’s most biodiverse and isolated national park. Corcovado is a treasure-trove of wilderness and wildlife, one that requires a bit of time and effort to reach and one which, for obvious reasons, is blissfully untarnished.

Home to 50% of all the flora and fauna species in the country, Corcovado is one of the world’s most prized reserves, home to sloths, jaguars, crocodiles, tapirs, several species of monkeys and an endless array of spectacular birds. A selection of hiking trails and options for gentle river kayaking allows visitors to safely soak up the splendors of the park, responsibly and sustainably. You must plan your visit ahead of time and gain the necessary permits and, as well as rustic lodges just outside the park’s boundaries, there’s also a smattering of exquisite wilderness lodges that are simply out of this world. You’ll not find a better place to restore your heart’s contentment.

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Given that we’ll probably be so over cities, houses and winter by the time we all emerge from our quarantine dens, it’s fair to say a beach vacation will be high on most people’s priorities.

We’ve got you covered!

Revered as a beach-vacay destination with unparalleled beauty and relaxation, Costa Rica is a seaside lover’s dream. Boasting over 800 miles of coastline and more than 300 jaw-dropping beaches, you really not need travel far to claim your corner of sandy paradise. The most famous and visited stretch of coast is along the central and northern Pacific, where lovely seaside towns and plenty of waterfront lodges make for easy vacation planning, especially if you can just get away for a few days. Fly into the Liberia Airport, if that’s the case, and your transfer to the coast will take even less time.

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The most spectacular beaches in Costa Rica are household names to those who’ve visited before – we’re talking Manuel Antonio’s picture-perfect sandy shores, vibrant and social Tamarindo and Jaco, with its myriad of water sports. The west coast beaches are all about amazing swims, snorkelling and sunset admiring, and are quite ideal for honeymoon trips and for those who wish to include a few days of beach-bumming whilst still hiking and visiting the most prominent parks. Yet along the famous stretch, you’ll still find plenty of beaches off the most touristed trail: still keeping you very much central but also offering that lovely R&R stint you’ll probably crave.

 

Take a family adrenaline-packed adventure

By the end of this pandemic mess, we may well have spent weeks and maybe even months cooped up in our homes, both kids and adults going bonkers with boredom and anxiety. The perfect cure? A full-on, adventure-packed vacation in Costa Rica!

Break free of those restrictions and let your adrenaline pump through your veins by tackling a weeklong stint chock-full of exhilarating activities. From whitewater rafting and kayaking to hard-core hiking, thrilling mountain biking, canyoning and amazing canopy swinging…and that’s just the start.

Here are our best Costa Rica adventure tours to get your travel-life back on track:

*Week of Adventures – Our 8-day adventure vacation package is arguably the single most popular tour we offer and is specifically aimed at those who want to try a little of EVERYTHING Costa Rica offers: all the major activities plus plenty of time to unwind on a glorious beach, wildlife encounters and amazing feasting on local specialties, every single day. The most comprehensive itinerary for those who need to catch up on fun and adventure? This is it!

rafting

 

*Honeymoon & Romance – If weeks of homebound quarantine has pushed your relationship to the brink, now’s your time to start planning a romantic getaway that’s set to rekindle the love! Our exotic itineraries will see you soak up the magic of Costa Rica’s luxury lodges, where sunset cocktails, intimate dinners and private bungalows are the norm, all the while filling your days with a wonderful mix of adventure sports and relaxing indulgences. The perfect, post-pandemic honeymoon? You bet!

sunset

 

*Family Vacations – Children the world over are having a difficult time understanding the ins and outs of our current crisis and, whether or not you’re choosing to home-school (or not) for a while, your whole family is probably looking forward to the day where normality returns. And then, it’s time for a glorious reward! Take the kids (and yourselves) out of your comfort zones and celebrate your freedom and good health in style, with an unforgettable family adventure vacation in Costa Rica. Swap your four walls for pristine jungles, beaches and mountains and spend quality time together doing fun and exhilarating activities, together. Our family vacation itineraries are planned with kids AND adults in mind, including plenty of rainforest experiences, wildlife spotting and adventure sports suitable for all ages.

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*Week of Rivers – For whitewater lovers, specifically, we plan outstanding weeklong paddling adventures on Costa Rica’s best-rated rivers. This is the land of world-class kayaking and canoeing and, thanks to our team of experienced guides, are can offer runs for both novice and experienced paddlers. This is our most dedicated tour, the one that’s solely focused on river-based fun. Want to indulge your passion or, perhaps, kindle a new one? Costa Rica awaits!

And we are too…waiting to welcome our adventure-seeking guests with open arms.

Hasta pronto!

 

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Playa Cocles – Costa Rica’s Dreamy Caribbean Gem

Regarded as one of Costa Rica’s most stunning beaches, Playa Cocles is a picture-perfect Caribbean paradise. The beach and its namesake village are two miles south of Puerto Viejo, the most established beach town on Costa Rica’s eastern coast, in the wilderness-drenched Limon province.

The most spectacular beach in this entire southern Caribbean coast, Cocles is a mile-long sandy beach framed by swaying palm trees and boasts arguably the best surfing waves on Costa Rica’s eastern coast so attracts beach lovers and surfers from every corner of the globe. Given the remoteness and lack of excessive commercialization, however, Playa Cocles, Puerto Viejo and the whole nearby region remain blissfully uncrowded and authentic. Add an infusion of eclectic cultures, thanks to the coast’s Afro-Caribbean influence and indigenous Bribri roots, and what you’ll discover is a totally unique side to Costa Rica.

Playa Cocles

 

What makes Cocles such an idyllic beach?

Although ‘Caribbean’ and ‘idyllic’ usually go hand in hand, many first-time visitors to the eastern coast of Costa Rica will be surprised to learn that much of the coast is not all that fabulous for swimming. This is especially true of the very north, where dark-sand beaches are set among mangroves and, therefore, not suitable beach-vacation destination.

Of course, the southern half of the coast is another matter although even here, surfers have a difficult time finding suitably wicked waves. Cocles, in this regard, seems to really have it all: glistening sandy shores for sunbathing, crystal-clear shallows for swimming and outstanding waves for surfing. The mix of calm and wavy seas also facilitating an abundance of water-sports galore.

Laid-back and enjoyable with turquoise waters, tropical surroundings and a surprisingly vibrant vibe thanks to the offerings of water sports, bars, stalls and restaurants nearby, Cocles is as relaxing as it is sociable and invigorating, and makes the ideal spot in which spend a few glorious days either at the start or end of your adventure-packed Costa Rica vacation.

For couples, families and anyone looking for a superbly convenient Caribbean beach destination, then Playa Cocles is unsurpassed.

Playa Cocles

 

How to get there?

Playa Cocles is just north of the border with Panama, on the north-eastern side of the spectacular Talamanca Mountains. To reach it, take the National Road 32 from San Jose to Puerto Limon, the capital and largest city of the Limon province, and continue south along the coastal road 36 for another 35 miles or so. All up, it takes about 4 hours to cover the distance, on a drive that is exceptionally enjoyable and chock-full of sensational scenery.

 

What to do on Playa Cocles

Surfing is the #1 water sport on Cocles and you’ll find a bunch of surf shops offering board rentals and classes for novices

Swimming is a lot more enjoyable on Playa Cocles, mostly because it’s the only beach in the region to boast lifeguards. Still, currents can be strong if you venture out so keep away from the big waves (and the surfers) and enjoy your frolic closer to shore

surfing

Horseback riding is also immensely popular with local guides taking guests on the beach itself and into the neighboring luscious jungles where you can spot toucans, sloths, monkeys and a crazy array of exotic and colorful birds

Wellness spa treatments, because physical and mental relaxation go hand-in-hand with dreamy Caribbean beaches

Beach volleyball & football are almost a given on any Costa Rican beach but especially on Cocles

Los Guardianes Wildlife Refuge, a privately-run sanctuary home to an array of rescues of many endangered Costa Rican species, including ocelot and a variety of monkeys, amphibians, reptiles and a ton of obscure creatures you didn’t even know existed. Los Guardianes covers an expansive chunk of superbly biodiverse wilderness comprising very rare coastal rainforest. The great thing about this place is that, whilst you can take a professionally guided night or day walk (perfect for seeing a greater concentration of wildlife) can also simply visit and walk the trails independently

Farm visits in this luscious region of Costa Rica are very rewarding and here you’ll find one of the bestest chocolate tours in the country (Chocorart) and a very fascinating permaculture farm (Finca Tierra) that is spearheading sustainable farming in the region.

Visit the Manzanillo Nature Observatory, an amazing hiking, animal-spotting and accommodation option just a few miles from Playa Cocles. The crowning jewel here is an 82ft-high viewing platform overlooking the verdant wilderness of the Gandoca wildlife sanctuary

Tasty Waves is the social hub of Cocles beach, offering fantastic lunch specials and a variety of social events in the evening like community movie, trivia and live-music nights.

Best Time to visit Playa Cocles

Inherently tropical, Playa Cocles enjoys a hot and humid climate, all year long. Due to the proximity of high mountains, this side of the country sees opposing rainy months to the Pacific although, overall, sees a lot more rain all year long. The months with the least rain are between February and April and again between August and October, a time when the western Pacific coast is suffering its heaviest rainfalls. Playa Cocles, Puerto Viejo and the whole Caribbean side is the ideal Green Season destination as, during the rainiest months in Costa Rica, these hubs are enjoying their driest season.

Cocles can get quite busy on weekends so, if you can, choose to spend your days here during the week if you’re looking for a quieter and more contemplative stint of seaside R&R.

 

Where to stay

Given that Cocles is nothing more than a handful of huts and food stalls, the village itself doesn’t offer many accommodation options. However, there’s a handful of amazing eco-lodges and guesthouses nearby that are set in superb wilderness so you need to stay in the heart of bustling Puerto Viejo if you don’t wish to. From rustic seaside bungalows to indulgent luxury lodges, your accommodation options are varied. Our favorite in these parts is the Sloth Sanctuary Inn, which isn’t all that flash BUT boasts a resident sloth, named Buttercup, who makes the whole experience absolutely magical.

See our guide to Puerto Viejo for more accommodation, nightlife and dining options nearby

sloth

 

Adventure activities around Playa Cocles

Playa Cocles is one of our favorite spots for relaxation given its proximity to two of our most popular whitewater touring rivers, namely the Pacuare and the Reventazón. Exhilarating kayaking and rafting tours are run about half-way between San Jose and Cocles and take advantage of two of the world’s most formidable whitewater rivers; adrenaline-filled hubs that attract outdoor adventure lovers from every corner of the globe.

We run our popular organised and bespoke tours out of Turrialba, an immensely charming town that acts as the ideal base for multi-day adventures. From here, after your weeklong adrenaline rush, it is much easier to reach the Caribbean coast, and Playa Cocles, for a few days of delightful relaxation and, if you still have bundles of energy, more exhilarating surfing.

At Costa Rica Rios, we cater to adventurous couples, families and whitewater-river lovers of all ages, planning group and bespoke itineraries to suit your time and budget constraints and, more importantly, your favorite sports. Check out our Turrialba adventures or fill in our bespoke-tour form and contact us to know more.

 

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10 of the Most Fabulous Birds to Spot in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is one of the world’s most prized wildlife havens, never more so than when we’re talking about birds. Not just any birds, mind you, but truly fabulous birds – some of the most magnificent and colorful on earth. The country’s idyllic climate, coupled with incredibly fertile and varied landscapes, and fervent environmental preservation, have combined over the years to create one of the most diverse aviary sanctuaries on earth.

Home to over 850 different species of birds, over half of which are endemic, Costa Rica is a bird-lover’s absolute Utopia. Here, you’ll find almost 10% of all the bird species on earth.

Rest assured that if you’re not a bird enthusiast by the time you visit, you certainly will be by the time you leave.

Here are just 10 of the most fabulous birds to spot in Costa Rica:

parrot

 

  1. Resplendent Quetzal

Resplendent by name and plumage, the quetzal is perhaps the most highly-coveted bird to spot in all of Costa Rica. Painfully shy and preferring to live at altitudes of between 5,000 and 6,500 feet, this most fatuous member of the trigon bird family boasts magnificent colors and almost regal green and turquoise feathers that extend an astonishing 40 inches beyond the tip of their tails. Endangered due to habitat loss, the Resplendent Quetzal is the national bird of Panama although due to habitat loss, numbers there have greatly diminished. Costa Rica, on the other hand, boasts large numbers of the majestic creatures, thanks to its pristine cloud forests.

Hiking adventure in search of quetzals are very popular tour options and usually taken between February and May, their mating season and the period of the year when they are most active. The best place to spot them is in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, the aptly-named and lesser-known Loz Quetzales National Park (a bird-lover’s mecca, in general) and Braulio Carrillo National Park, which is framed by ethereal volcanoes and boasts the kind of mid-elevation forests the quetzal cherishes.

 

birds

 

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  1. Keel-billed Toucan

The pin-up of the Costa Rican bird-kingdom and most adored bird in all of Central America, the keel-billed toucan, aka the Froot Loop guy, never fails to stop people dead on their tracks with its jaw-dropping looks. The oversized beaks, impressive size and stunning colors of so many sub-species make toucans the most famous birds in the tropical world and the keel-billed, in particular, is regarded as the most fabulous of them all. This tucan pico arcoiris – or rainbow-beak toucan, in Spanish – is a sociable and playful creature, often quarreling with its flock members over fruit or space on an already overcrowded tree-branch.

One of six toucans found in Costa Rica, the keel-billed toucan is most often seen along the Caribbean coast, although it’s one of two species that also inhabit the Nicoya Peninsula. Tortuguero, Cahuita and Turrialba Volcano national parks are all fantastic toucan-spotting destinations as well. If you’re as toucan mad as we are, pin the Rescate Animal Zoo Ave (Alajuela Province) on your map – here, you can meet Grecia, the first toucan rescue in the world to receive a 3D-printed beak replacement. You can listen to Grecia’s amazing, tear-jerking story, right here.

 

parrot

 

  1. Scarlet Macaw

One of the most recognizable birds in Costa Rica, the scarlet macaw is an absolute visual spectacle. With its bright red head, green chest and bright blue lower-half, this specific macaw is easy to spot, even by the most untrained bird-spotting eye. Macaws are, like all parrots, very sociable birds so when you spot one, be sure to keep looking up and you’ll no-doubt see more. Macaws live to a ripe old age of 60 and have, in the past, been highly coveted as pets, which greatly diminished their numbers in the wild. Luckily, protection initiatives have brought Costa Rica’s numbers up to a healthy standard and have averted an absolute wildlife disaster.

Most commonly spotted in the south-western side of the country, the Scarlet Macaw is one of the most prized residents of the Corcovado National Park although numbers are on the up and up on the Caribbean side as well, especially in Tortuguero National Park.

 

bird

 

  1. Great Green Macaw

The largest parrot in Costa Rica is a cousin of the scarlet but one that is much more difficult to spot. It is usually best seen on the Caribbean side of the country. Like all macaws, it squawks so loudly that is most often heard, loud and clear, long before it is spotted. Much like the scarlet, the great green macaw used to primarily favor feasting on higher-elevation almond trees, a flora species that has been almost logged into extinction and replaced with a faster-growing lower-elevation tree, imported from Asia. Whilst the scarlet macaw was quick to switch food-source, the green macaw was reluctant to follow suit for years, so its numbers plummeted dramatically. Luckily, their taste buds seem to have finally adapted and, nowadays, sightings have increased, especially around the Rio Sarapiqui, where we run out whitewater rafting and kayaking trips.

 

birds

 

  1. Blue Crowned (Lesson’s) Motmot

Half a dozen motmot species inhabit Costa Rica, the most fabulous of which is the blue-crowned motmot, its iridescent blue maw-hawk hairdo and bright green tail feathers making it an absolute vision against the verdant green backdrop of the forest. Commonly dubbed ‘clock-birds’, the motmot has the habit of swinging its long tail from side to side when sitting on a branch, mimicking the swing of a grandfather clock. These cute guys can be spotted all over Costa Rica but, for the highest chances of seeing them, head to the Osa Peninsula.

The motmot name comes from a mimic of the call it makes, an owl-like double hoot that is very distinctive.

birds

 

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  1. Fiery-billed Aracari

More easily described as a miniature toucan, the fiery-billed aracari belongs to the same family and displays much the same features of toucans, including an incredibly oversized beak. Lovers of fruits, coffee and cacao beans, aracaris love to hang out near plantations, where they can score exceptional meals on the fly. Endemic to the Pacific lowlands of Costa Rica and seen all along the coastline, the fiery-billed aracari is commonly found below 3,000 feet in elevation.

 

birds

 

  1. Hummingbirds

Among the most adorable birds you will likely ever see, hummingbirds delight spotters with their diminutive size and impressive wing-flapping speed. Costa Rica has so far recorded 50 distinct species of hummingbirds, two of which are totally endemic, and all showcasing incredibly iridescent colors. Although their distribution spans the entirety of the country, actually spotting them in the wild can be a little tricky. Many wildlife sanctuaries have feeders in place so visitors can see them relatively easily.

Head to Monteverde’s famous Hummingbird Garden where you can see a stunning array of these fabulous birds, including the green violet-ear and the fiery-throated hummingbird, a glistening specimen that is absolutely gorgeous.

 

birds

 

  1. Crested Caracara

A formidable and quite sneaky hunter, the crested caracara feeds on turtles, lizards, snakes and anything else it can dig its sharp-beak into. This bird prefers slightly cooler temps and is best seen on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, most famously in Manuel Antonio and Corcovado national parks.

 

birds

 

  1. Speckled Tanager

This exceptionally bright little guy with the polka-dot plumage resides in tropical rainforests and loves to hang-out in large groups, either with members of its own species or tagging along with other species. Like a true masterpiece, the speckled tanager boasts an eye-popping palette of yellow, green and turquoise feathers, speckled with black dots. This wonderful songbird favors mid-level forests and is most commonly seen on the western half of Costa Rica, in cloud forests flanking its central mountains.

 

birds

 

  1. Clay-Colored Thrush

Interestingly enough, the clay-colored thrush (or robin), is perhaps the least-arresting bird to spot in Costa Rica although it is the country’s national bird. The interesting choice of mascot-bird was made not because the bird is endemic here but because its long, melodious song is a forebearer for the rain season and because, unlike more exotic and colorful species that prefer prime wilderness, the clay-colored thrush is often found in villages and cities. To bird-loving Ticos, this is the most common and beloved species of all.

birds

Whether you’re an avid ornithologist or a hobbyist bird-watcher, check out Ebird.Co and download the bird-spotting app that collates all the species in Central America.

Here are a few travel guides to the best national parks in Costa Rica for bird-spotting, which you may find useful:

At Costa Rica Rios, we’re in the business of running award-winning Costa Rica adventure vacations and spotting the most fabulous birds is part and parcel of every trip we take, simply because we scour the most pristine and lesser-visited pockets of wilderness in the country. If there’s a particular bird or place you wish to visit, however, we can create a bespoke itinerary to suit your desires or tell you the best way to fit in a side trip on an organised tour.

Simply call us, below, to know more.

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Remote Costa Rica – The Original Social Distancing Destinations

A term we’ve all come to know all too well in recent weeks, social-distancing doesn’t always need to conjure up negative images. Sometimes, as is the case for Costa Rica’s remotest destinations, it can mean sensational nature-infused adventure vacations in blissful quiet, away from the tourist crowds, the hustle of cities and the endless connectivity.

Thinking of ways to restore your adventurous soul when all this COVID-mayhem is over?

Here are some of the most delightfully remote destinations in Costa Rica for adventure-seekers, families and honeymooning couples who still want to indulge in a myriad of activities whilst keeping away from the crowds.

 

TURRIALBA

Home to the Pacuare River, one of the best whitewater adventure hubs on earth, Turrialba is one of the most rewarding yet least-visited destinations in Costa Rica. Interestingly enough, it’s not even that far from the capital, San Jose, yet is often overlooked in favor of more Insta-famous regions. This Central Valley hub boasts some of the most glorious rural landscapes in the country, the fertility of the soil and lusciousness of the valleys making it a huge agricultural powerhouse. Devoid of major overcrowding but, instead, offering a wealth of river-based adventurous fun, this a remote destination for true adrenaline-seekers.

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Where to stay: Pacuare Lodge

Anyone who’s enjoyed one of our adventure vacations in Costa Rica will surely be familiar with Pacuare Lodge, one of the world’s most astonishing eco-lodges. This incredibly unique luxury treehouse is set on over 20,000 acres of protected wilderness, right on the banks of the Pacuare River. Accessible only by 4WD, helicopter or rafting kayak, The Pacuare is the ideal spot to get away from it all – all-inclusive deals mean you get to raft, kayak, hike, canyon, swing from treetops and so much more, every single day. An in-house, award-winning wellness spa and exquisite cuisine seal the deal: the best of Costa Rica, in the middle of the superlative Costa Rican jungle? Yes please!

Love the sound of this area and want to know more? Check out our favorite accommodation options in Turrialba.

 

Plan Your Trip

 

OSA PENINSULA

One of three amazing peninsulas in Costa Rica, the Osa is found on the south-western coast and is undoubtedly the wildest, remotest and most astonishing of the three. Most of the peninsula is made up of the Corcovado National Park (sound familiar?) considered one of the most bio-diverse on earth and home to over half the flora and fauna species found all over the country. Reaching this post is time consuming at the best of times, let alone during the dry-season when the park is only accessible by plane. It’s this very isolation, coupled with intense wilderness experiences, that make the Osa a social distancing dream.

parrot

 

Where to Stay: Lapas Rio Ecolodge

Lapas Rio is an absolute dream, with jaw-dropping elevated family-sized bungalows making you feel as if you’re the only one in the Osa for miles and miles. The only connectivity is with the pristine Corcovado nature and if you think that won’t entice the kids to come along for the remote Costa Rican adventure of a lifetime, just tell them they’ll have no time to miss Minecraft when howler monkeys, sloths and toucans beckon them from the balcony.

This is, by far, one of the best family-friendly resorts in Costa Rica and one of our favorite Corcovado lodges.

 

UVITA

Dubbed the most biologically-intense corner of our planet by National Geographic, Uvita is home to the world-famous Marino Ballena National Park, the whale-tale-shaped promontory that is, through no small coincidence, Costa Rica’s prime whale-watching destination. Half-way between the beach hub of Quepos and the Osa Peninsula on the southern Pacific coast, Uvita itself is not all that remote nor isolated, although the sheer expansiveness of the protected wilderness here, and options for luxury lodges off the beaten path, are numerous. This is the perfect place if you want to hide away from the rest of the world for a few days whilst still being close to all the Pacific coast action.

 

Marino Ballena National Park

 

Where to Stay: Vista Celestial

Want to spend your days indulging in private jacuzzi soaks, intimate yoga classes, strolls along deserted but resplendent beaches and soaking up awe-inspiring coastal views from your own private terrace? Then this heavenly lodge may be just your thing. Home to just five exquisite bungalows framed by rain and cloud forests, Vista Celestial – which means heavenly views – is the kind of place no-one forgets in a hurry. Options for adventure activities abound so you can be as active or as sloth-like as you like!

Love the sound of Uvita but looking for a more affordable option? See our pick of the best Uvita lodges.

 

TORTUGUERO

The Caribbean coast’s equivalent of Corcovado, Tortuguero is even harder to reach but is just as exceptional. The turtle-nesting capital of Costa Rica, Tortuguero is a unique national park, comprising mangroves, lagoons and canals home to an astonishing array of unique wildlife. Lodges here are reached by boat, excursions are made on canoes and kayaks and Wi-Fi – although offered in some places – is not even worthy of a mention. Yes, you’ll give up most luxuries when you visit Tortuguero but if it’s divine social distancing you’re after, coupled with sightings of rare manatees, crocodiles, turtles, jaguars, sloths and endless families of monkeys and exotic birds, you simply won’t find a better place.

 

turtle

 

Plan Your Trip

 

Where to Stay: Tortuga Lodge

One of the more affordable Tortuguero options, Tortuga is a no-frills, riverfront lodge that offers everything you need for an extraordinary adventure. With an open-air restaurant rated among the best in the region, a hammock room, saltwater pool, amazing river views from every angle and enough room options to suit both families and honeymooning couples, this is one of the most comprehensive accommodation options in Tortuguero.

 

Costa Rica National Parks that are ideal for an ‘anti-social adventure day’

Whilst we understand that some visitors crave entire weeks spent off-the-beaten-path in Costa Rica, we find that the majority simply wish to experience unplugged days interspersed with days in more sociable, bustling hubs. If you happen to be more the latter, rather then the former, here are some of the best yet least-visited national parks in the country that aren’t too far off the tourist-trail.

Rincon de la Vieja National Park – One of our most popular activity options from Tamarindo, on the north-western Pacific coast, is to this gem of a place. Rincon covers an area roughly equivalent to 53 square miles and is home to two of Costa Rica’s most incredible volcanoes (Rincon de la Vieja and Santa Maria) and a resulting dramatic landscape comprising almost three dozen rivers as well as waterfalls, natural hot springs, mud baths and some of the most unspoiled wilderness in the country. As the Guanacaste region’s popularity increases, thanks primarily to the expansion of the northern Liberia International Airport, expect this place to soon be as visited and commercialized as Arenal but, for now, it remains a sublime, remote and unplugged paradise.

Poas Volcano National Park – Surprisingly lesser-visited despite its proximity to San Jose, Poas Volcano boasts the world’s most active crater and undoubtedly one of its most picturesque. The last, somewhat minor eruption occurred in September 2019 and given this crater’s propensity to bubble at regular intervals, 99% of trails are closed to the public. There is one hiking trail that offers spectacular crate views, however, yet because it’s only worthwhile to hike up when the weather is impeccable, many tourists simply bypass it. If you’re lucky enough to catch this 8885-ft-peak with crystal-clear skies, you’ll be in for a spectacular treat.

Santa Rosa National Park – Easier to reach than Tortuguero and lesser-visited than Ostional on the Nicoya Peninsula, Santa Rosa is our secret turtle-spotting destination when our clients want to get off the beaten path for a day. Right on the north-western tip of Costa Rica and just south of the border with Panama, this superb, small yet super rewarding national park is a hidden treasure, brimming with wildlife, awesome volcano views and some of the most idyllic yet unknown beaches along the entire Pacific coast. Absolutely glorious!

Our Adventure Vacations in Costa Rica take social distancing to brand new levels and take you to some of the most remote and unspoiled corners of our magnificent country. Give us a call when you’re ready to start planning your next unforgettable adventure down our spellbinding neck of the woods.

 

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Horseback Riding in Rincon de la Vieja National Park

Rincon de la Vieja is not amongst the most visited national parks in Costa Rica which is the reason discerning adventurers head here to enjoy horseback riding adventures away from the crowds. Although the park (and whole Guanacaste region) are becoming more popular thanks to the extension of the Liberia International Airport, this is still a side of the country not everyone gets to experience.

If you’re after a quieter and more immersive wilderness experience on your next adventure vacation in Costa Rica, and simply wish to share your spoils with fewer people on horseback, consider Rincon De la Vieja an exceptional choice.

 

Overview of Rincon de la Vieja – Best Way to Visit

This stunning park is merely 16 miles north-east of the town of Liberia and its airport, taking as little as an hour’s drive to reach with no traffic. That means you can enjoy a horseback riding tour here even if you’re simply passing through and transiting to other Costa Rican provinces – a day off either before or after your flight is all you need to at least get a taste of this beautiful Guanacaste highlight.

Rincon de la Vieja comprises 35,000 acres of sensational wilderness, comprising the arresting Rincon de la Vieja Volcano (one of only two active volcanoes in the country) as well as the slightly taller Santa Maria Volcano, and a bevy of natural hot springs and mud baths, gorgeous waterfalls and unspoiled jungles and forests, all inhabited by a wide array of exotic wildlife.

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The park is easy to explore on foot given the well-maintained trails but there’s no denying you can see and do more when you visit on a horseback riding tour, especially on a hot summer’s day.

Given the remoteness and relative isolation of the park, visits are difficult to organize independently – everyone stays in a lodge or resort nearby and most will simply organize their transfers and excursions directly through their accommodation. Even if you have a rental car or can book out a taxi for an entire day, it’s unarguably easier and more enjoyable to visit on an organised tour. With a local guide to show you around and private transport at your beck and call, everything is infinitely more enjoyable.

Which is probably why our horseback riding tours to Rincon de la Vieja are so very popular!

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The park is open 8am to 3pm, six days a week (closed on Mondays) and boasts two entrances: one at Santa Maria and one at Las Pailas. Entry fee is USD $15 at time of writing.

The two entrances offer quite distinct experiences, with Las Pailas (on the Pacific side) home to hot springs and mud pools and being much drier, and the Caribbean entrance (Santa Maria) showcasing much more luscious wilderness and, usually, a higher chance of rain.

Please note that although Rincon de la Vieja Volcano has not erupted for thousands of years, small signs of (smokey) life were visible in 2011 and, as a precaution, hikes to the rim have not been allowed since. Expect warm temps all year (ranging between 80 and 90 F) with much drier and hotter conditions on the Las Pailas side and more rain yet slightly cooler temps on the Santa Maria side.

 

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Wildlife & wilderness of Rincon de la Vieja

The dense and pristine forests of Rincon hide a stunning array of creatures, among them three distinct species of monkeys (howler, white-faced and spider), three species of wild cats (jaguars, ocelots and pumas), as well as armadillos, tapirs, an impressive array of tropical snakes and other reptiles and nearly 300 species of exotic birds, among them owls, falcons and plenty of beautifully colorful parrots.

The wilderness here is quite unique and varied, part of the reason the park was nationalised and protected in the early 1970s. The rich fertile volcanic soil nourishes both dry and rain forests, with rare flora in abundance.

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Overview of Rincon de la Vieja tours

Horseback riding in Rincon de la Vieja is one of the most popular inclusions in our adventure tours of Guanacaste. Not only is horseback riding perfect if you want to explore the luscious national park without the need to hike, but it’s an activity that’s at the very heart of local culture – stepping into the shoes of a Tico cowboy or girl is a fantastic way to enjoy a cultural experience and a superlative excursion in nature to boot.

Plus, Rincon boasts sublime waterfalls you can actually swim in so what better way to hit an adventure trifecta than by horseback riding, wildlife-spotting and waterfall swimming all on the same excursion?!

Horseback ride to Oropendola Waterfall – This lesser-visited waterfall would have to rate as one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful secret gems and most standard horseback riding tours will take you here. Oropendola is a gorgeous 82-foot cascade that creates a turquoise pool at its base, in which you can swim. On a leisurely, hour-long ride, you’ll meander through the tropical dry forests of the Las Pailas side of the park, reaching the canyon and the very top of the falls. A quick hike down will see you reach the base and that marvelous natural pool. You’ll have plenty of time to frolic in the refreshing waters of the Rio Bianco – expect the excursion to take between 2.5 and 3 hours.

What to pack – Make sure you’re wearing closed shoes and long pants for the ride (you’ll be given a safety riding helmet), don’t forget sunscreen and do pack some bug spray as well. If you fancy a swim, bring a towel and wear your swimming costume underneath your clothes, as there won’t be anywhere for you to change once you reach the top of the canyon.

If all this is starting to sound a little too tame for you, adventurous thrill-seeker you, then we have an even better and more exhilarating option: a FULL-ON adventure day in the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano park!

 

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Our Extreme Adventure Full-day Excursion in Rincon De La Vieja

There’s more than one reason National Geographic named us one of the best adventure travel companies on earth – we certainly don’t do things by half-measures. For the thrill-seeker and adventure-lover, we serve up an intense, thrill-filled day in Rincon de la Vieja that includes horseback riding – one we rate among the best we offer.

Want some serious fun? Then how about rappelling down a canyon wall and then rock-climbing back up, flying along no fewer than eight exceptional zip-lines, tackling a horseback ride to the wilder Colorado River, where you’ll jump into inflatable kayaks for a stint of heart-stopping whitewater rafting, before finally relaxing and unwinding in one of the park’s many natural mud pools.

We offer this superb adventure day out complete with private transfers and, of course, our best and most experienced bilingual guides. If it’s an especially adventurous day out in Rincon that you’re after, and a unique horseback ride, this will certainly hit the spot.

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Our Rincon de la Vieja Adventure day with horseback ride in Rincon de la Vieja is one of several Tamarindo Activity Options we have on offer. On all our tours, we include private transfers from wherever you happen to be staying, bilingual guides as well as a delectable lunch on our full-day excursions. Travelling to Costa Rica with kids? Just let us know and we can plan a day out the whole family will love.

Here’s some more adventure inspiration for your upcoming visit:

Private surf lesson – Spend a couple of hours on Tamarindo’s world-renowned waves, guided by a professional surfing instructor, and you and go home with a brand-new skill under your belt. We can organize lessons for beginner, intermediate and advanced surfers and can plan alternative activities if you’re travelling with friends or family members who don’t wish to surf.

Beach paddle boarding – Easier and undoubtedly more relaxing than surfing, stand-up paddle boarding is one of the most enjoyable activities to be had on Costa Rica’s beaches, lakes, rivers and estuaries. In Tamarindo, you can enjoy the thrills of ocean boarding!

Sport fishing – This is one of Costa Rica’s quietest achievers, an activity that attracts avid anglers from all over the world. Head off into open water with your master fisher-guide, on the lookout for saltfish and marlin (which we’ll release back into the sea) or tuna and mahi-mahi (which we can clean and fillet for you to take back to your lodge).

Tamarindo estuary kayak & walking tour – This 2-hour adventure will see you explore the Tamarindo estuary, home to crocodiles, iguanas, sea birds, howler monkeys and a host of other tropical wildlife, both by boat and on foot.

Sunset cruise – Spend an entire afternoon sailing along the Pacific coastline of Guanacaste and you’ll be in for an exquisite experience. Be on the lookout for sea turtles, dolphins and whales whilst enjoying a delicious cocktail and a wonderful lunch. Next, snorkel and relax as you wait for the most amazing spectacle of all: a Guanacaste sunset!

Turtle nesting tour – Head to Guanacaste between October and March and you can join a night-time turtle nesting tour. The beaches of Tamarindo are among the world’s most important sea turtle nesting sites, attracting hundreds of leatherback turtles during the nesting season. Casting your eyes on this magical spectacle is a truly priceless Costa Rica experience.

At Costa Rica Rios, we don’t just run some of the best-organised adventure tours in the world, we also plan bespoke itineraries and private tours that are designed with your specific interests and needs in mind. No matter where or when you wish to enjoy a horseback ride, be it in Guanacaste, Rincon de la Vieja or any of our other preferred destinations, just let us know and we’ll do our best to make it happen.

Contact us below and let us help you plan the Costa Rica adventure of a lifetime!

Here are a few more guides you may find useful:

US & Canada: 888 434-0776 | UK: 0800 612 8718 | International: +1 920 434-7485

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Discover Dino Park Blue River – Costa Rica’s Most Roaring Amusement Park!

Costa Rica boasts several amusement parks that make for great inclusions on family adventure vacations, none more rewarding than the Dino Park Blue River. Nestled deep in the luscious jungles of the Guanacaste Province, right on the banks of a gorgeous Celeste River and on the flanks of the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, the animatronic Jurassic-Park-themed attraction offers fun and educational activities the kids will love, in a tropical setting that adults will absolutely cherish.

Easy to reach from the Liberia Airport and part of the beautiful Blue River Resort, Dino Park is a quirky and unique destination that’s ideal on relaxing days off your action-packed adventure Costa Rica vacation.

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Dino Park Blue River – What’s It All About?

A Jurassic-Park-themed amusement park may not be a unique idea yet it’s the setting of Dino Park that makes it stand out from similar attractions around the world. The park comprises two dozen life-sized, true-as-anything animatronic dinosaurs, among them velociraptors, brachiosaurus (the ones with the long neck), pterosaurs and the crowd-fave, T-rex (the ones with the short arms), scattered about a swath of pristine rainforest. The ginormous creatures are not only amazingly realistic to look at but they growl and roar as you walk past, turning what would be a glorious jungle walk into a thrilling and giggle-inducing adventure.

This is the only attraction of its kind in all of Latin America and although the Blue River Resort may have taken a gamble when it first came up with the idea of a ‘jungle walking trail with a difference’ back in 2016, the park’s popularity is testament to it being a rather genius idea indeed. It’s also worth noting that the resort maintained its eco-friendly commitment throughout the building of the park – not a single tree was ever cut down to construct what has now become Costa Rica’s most popular amusement park.

At Dino Park, you can enjoy a leisurely guided walk through the pristine Rincon de la Vieja jungle along a well-marked trail, dotted with loads of informational boards so you (and the kids) can learn all about these fearsome creatures and the Costa Rican rainforest.

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Does Costa Rica Have a Connection with Dinosaurs?

In fact, it does not. Costa Rica was still below sea-level when the behemoth creatures last walked the earth. However, the country – and specifically it’s UNESCO-listed Coco Island – was famously the inspiration for Spielberg’s film, Jurassic Park, so everyone in Costa Rica has held a fervent fascination with the film, and dinosaurs, ever since.

Intended to attract, entertain and educate the children of Costa Rica, Dino Park is a must-visit for anyone as obsessed with dinosaurs as the Ticos!

 

How Long Does a Visit to Dino Park Take?

The complete walking trail can be covered in about an hour but given the nearly-infinite chances for excellent selfies, most visits last between two and three hours.

 

When is Dino Park Blue River Open?

Dino Park is open every day from 8am to 5pm – at time of writing, entry costs $50 for adults and $35 for children under the age of 12.

 

Blue River Resort & Hot Springs – An All-In-one Accommodation Choice

Given the park is part of the Blue River Resort, you have the option of staying next door and visit the park even more leisurely. The resort is one of Guanacaste’s best picks with five hot springs, wildlife exhibits, swimming pool with kid’s play corner, natural mud baths and wellness spa offering a varied and enticing array of services. As far as activities are concerned, and aside from the fantastical Dino Park, the resort also offers zip-lining, whitewater rafting and tubing excursions, as well as horseback riding and snorkeling tours.

Don’t fancy staying there? You can buy a combination ticket that gives you entry to Dino Park, lunch at the kiosk and use of the resort’s many facilities for the day.

 

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How to Get to Dino Park and What to do in Guanacaste

The Blue River Resort and its Dino Park are a 1.5 hr drive from the Liberia International Airport, by far your best airport choice if you want to explore the wilderness, gorgeous beaches and resorts of the Guanacaste Province.

Nestled between a spine of spectacular mountains on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west, the Guanacaste Province covers the north-western region of Costa Rica (all the way to the border with Nicaragua) and is as famous for its luxury seaside resorts as it is about its awe-inspiring volcanoes.

Why is Guanacaste so popular? The ease of access, ease of travel and sheer concentration of hotels, resorts, lodges, attractions and adventures make Guanacaste particularly ideal if you’re a bit tight for time. Fly into Liberia and you could be taking your first surfing lesson within just a couple of hours – something that just isn’t possible if you fly into the capital, San Jose.

Where to stay – One of the most diverse of all Costa Rica’s many provinces, Guanacaste offers something for everyone – from 5* all-inclusive resorts ideal for families to boutique adults-only resorts for romantic honeymoons. This is undoubtedly the province of choice if you’re either visiting Costa Rica for the first time or if you’re craving an adventure vacation with a few added creature comforts. See our preferred Guanacaste Hotels if you’d love a more exclusive and less-crowded experience.

Beaches – The Guanacaste world is your oyster with the province offering a mind-boggling array of highlights. The province’s spectacular beaches are undoubtedly the main draw, the long stretch of coast home to such world-renowned gems as Tamarindo, Playa Hermosa, Conchal and so many more. Here, you’ll find every beach offers a unique scene, be it surfing, family-friendly, quiet and romantic or active and full of fun water-based sports.

Jungles and forests – Some of Costa Rica’s most coveted national parks are found right here, with Rincon de la Vieja, Las Baulas and Santa Rosa being the most popular. Brimming with a host of exotic wildlife (including nesting sea turtles in season) as well as striking volcano hiking trails and plenty of waterfalls for refreshing swims, your wilderness-based activities here are nearly endless. Guanacaste is also the gateway to the remote Nicoya Peninsula, a dramatically wild corner of Costa Rica that entices travelers looking for a wilder and more rustic wilderness experience.

Adventure sports & excursions – Hiking is absolutely superb in Guanacaste, especially in parks like Rincon de la Vieja that see fewer visitors compared with Arenal and Manuel Antonio, further south. This is where we go when we have time off, want to get away from the world and enjoy a thrilling day in the Guanacaste wilderness. We definitely consider this one of the top 10 Secret Wonders of Costa Rica.

Aside from trekking, however, you’ll find a host of exciting adventures in the region, including oodles of seaside adventures like snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, surfing and sailing, and plenty of jungle exploits such as zip-lining and canopy touring. Due to its genial location, we choose to base most of our Guanacaste tours out of beautiful Tamarindo as it gives us easy access to the region’s very best attractions.

Check out our comprehensive Guide to Guanacaste so you can have an even better idea of all this amazing province has to offer.

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Our Guided Tours and Organized Adventures in Guanacaste

At Costa Rica Rios, we run organised adventure tours (both fully guided and not, depending on your desires) throughout Costa Rica and always prefer taking our guests to off-the-beaten-path destinations they’d probably never get to experience on their own.

In Guanacaste, we offer an amazing Luxury Adventure Honeymoon, a 7-night adventure that offers all the thrills and spills you’d expect in Costa Rica (like extreme canyoning and whitewater rafting) with private transfers and overnight stays in beautiful hotels. This fully-organised yet unguided experience offers you the best of both worlds when honeymooning in Costa Rica. We give you peace of mind and take care of all the logistics yet offer independence and privacy on an day-to-day basis.

If you’d love to just come out and play with us for the day, however, we also have a choice of brilliant half and full-day excursions you can enjoy – perfect if you want just a hint of adventure-filled sports on vacation. Take particular note of our Rincon de la Vieja Volcano Adventure Day, a day that’s jam-packed with exhilarating fun!

 

See all our award-winning Costa Rica Adventure Tours and ask us how to include a visit to the super-fun Dino Park Blue River on your action-packed itinerary.

You can contact us, right here:

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US & Canada: 888 434-0776 | UK: 0800 612 8718 | International: +1 920 434-7485

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