In recent years the rainforests of Costa Rica have become a hotspot on the world map. For many, the chance to get up close with active volcanoes and incredible wildlife is hard to resist. If you’re planning a trip into the rainforest, here’s what you need to know.
The first rule of the rainforest is… it rains. Up to 260 inches per year in some areas. Heat and humidity are permanent features here, so dress in light layers that will dry quickly, and consider a lightweight rain jacket. You’ll may be sharing the paths with insects and other critters, so long pants and sturdy shoes are a wise choice too. Next on the list is mosquito repellent, and a good hat will fend off rain and sun. Lastly, make sure you bring enough water when heading out for the day.
Climb a Volcano
Costa Rica is home to many volcanoes, many of which are still active. Perhaps the most famous is Arenal, which was Costa Rica’s most active volcano for 50 years, sending thick clouds of steam and ash into the sky. Although the display of smoke and lava ended in 2010 (who knows when it may begin again), the picturesque, symmetrical crater rising out of pristine rainforest is an incredible sight, one that draws thousands of tourists every year. The number of activities on offer here is huge, everything from forest hikes, to swimming in waterfalls and making use of the area’s mineral rich volcanic mud with a relaxing spa treatment. There’s also Lake Arenal, which at 32sq miles provides ample space for windsurfing, kayaking and fishing. To get the most out of your Arenal experience, consider spending the day with a private guide – you’ll skip lines and learn more about the surrounding environment.
Explore the Animal Kingdom
The world’s tropical rainforests are home to over 60% of the world’s wildlife, and the variety of colorful creatures you can expect to see is mind-boggling. Costa Rica alone is home to more than half a million different species. At Manuel Antonio National Park you’ll find Capuchin monkeys, along with toucans, sloths and iguanas, and the well-mark system of trails make it simple to navigate. As a bonus, the park is also home to some of the best beaches in the country, and there’s no better way to refresh after a long humid hike than a dip in the Pacific Ocean. Further north, the mist-filled Monteverde cloudforest is unspoiled and otherworldly. A network of trails and thrilling zip-line canopy tours give you plenty of ways to see the surroundings. As you make your way through the trees at Monteverde keep an eye out for the Quetzal – the beautiful red, green and blue bird is famously elusive to spot.
Where to stay in Costa Rica