Rincon de la Vieja, an active volcano with a heat-sterilized summit and ominous scores running down its upper slopes, looms over the northwestern city of Liberia. Parque Nacional Rincon de la Vieja protects the twin-peaked massif and the surrounding moist forests. We spent two nights on the far side of Rincon de la Vieja, lounging in hot springs and hunting for hidden waterfalls, and had a blast.
My trip was wonderful! It was my first trip with Gate1, and it was also my first ever solo trip and I must say that I could not have been more happy with my experience. Our tour manager was great, our driver was top notch and the people I met on the trip were the cherry in top. Thank you for your help with my reservation I will definitely travel with Gate1 again.
Pro Tip: Most Costa Rican vehicles have standard transmissions – stick shifts. This is a scary prospect for most North Americans, many of whom have no reason to know how to drive stick. If you know anyone with a standard transmission vehicle, ask them to show you the ropes before you arrive in Costa Rica. It’s better to learn in a parking lot near your house than an unfamiliar dirt road with jungle on one side and a sheer drop on the other.
A local Naturalist accompanies you on a leisurely BOAT RIDE along remote, unspoiled sections of the park’s waterways, explaining the bountiful flora and fauna. Enjoy a fascinating stroll through an accessible portion of the nearby RAINFOREST. During the peak nesting season (mid-July to mid-October) you may be lucky enough to observe an endangered green turtle laying her eggs under the starlight on an optional tour. Later this afternoon, meet a local Naturalist for an informative talk on the ecology of the area.
You can certainly change your dollars into colones, but it won't matter either way, as most taxis, restaurants, surfboard rental shops, boutiques, bars, tour companies—you name it—take both forms of currency, often giving change in a mix of American dollars and Costa Rican coins. If you're in a particularly touristy area, such as Tamarindo or Jaco, you'll find prices listed for goods and services in U.S. dollars, with nary a colón in sight. Pro tip: Spend those colones, if you do have them, before you hit the airport for your return trip, as the conversion rate back to dollars is pretty dismal.
Malaria is rarely found in Costa Rica. However, there have been limited confirmed cases in the past in Osa Peninsula (Puntarenas), Matina Canton (Limón), Sarapiquí Canton (Heredia), and San Carlos Canton (Alajuela). Travelers planning to visit these areas should take precautions to prevent mosquito bites and malaria transmission. Talk with a doctor or nurse about medicine to prevent malaria before leaving the United States. Learn more about malaria, how to prevent it, and what to do if you think you are infected, at CDC’s malaria page for travelers.
If we’d chosen Arenal we each would have paid $24 (unguided) for a daytime visit and another $47 (guide required and included) for a night time visit to the Arenal Hanging Bridges, plus $15 for the entrance fee to the National Park plus about $50 for transfers plus $35 each per night for a simple place to stay.  A total of $280 for two nights lodging plus $394 for activities for the four of us.
I have written about my love for Costa Rica before. And as I write this, I am once again in Costa Rica, sitting on the patio of my wonderfully inexpensive room in a charming boutique hotel (called, appropriately enough, La Ramona Charming Hotel), overlooking a calm pool and lush gardens, still stuffed from a bountiful breakfast of fresh fruit and eggs, relaxing after an early morning swim in the Pacific Ocean a couple of short blocks away.
Whether you’re a family looking for an adventurous vacation, a couple desiring a romantic beach getaway, or a thrill-seeking backpacker, Costa Rica delivers. With a year-round tropical climate and one of the most diverse landscapes in the world, you will find endless opportunities in every corner of Costa Rica. Sandwiched between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean the country offers a playground of stunning beaches, spectacular mountains, a wealth of wildlife, and friendly welcoming people who truly believe in Pura Vida, the Pure Life!

There are bus services from the neighbouring countries of Panamá, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico and Guatemala. Bus companies like Tica and Tracopa that operate international routes charge significantly more than national companies that go as far as the border. At all land borders you have to get out of the bus, take your luggage and walk across. At the main land borders with Nicaragua and Panama there are lots of local buses and it is easy to catch another bus at the other side. Keep in mind you have to show CR immigration proof of onward travel: a plane ticket out of San José or a bus ticket. I do not know whether it is a scam, but immigration officers refer to Tracopa and Tica ticket boots near their office. Once you have bought a ticket which you may not need you can enter without a problem. E.g. at the Penas Blancas border with Nicaragua 25USD is the price of the cheapest bus ticket 'for returning' to Nicaragua, but if you plan to travel to Panama you will have lost this money. At the land border with Panama a similar ticket to return to Panama with Tracopa will cost you 21 USD (SJ - David).
The impact of indigenous peoples on modern Costa Rican culture has been relatively small compared to other nations, since the country lacked a strong native civilization to begin with. Most of the native population was absorbed into the Spanish-speaking colonial society through inter-marriage, except for some small remnants, the most significant of which are the Bribri and Boruca tribes who still inhabit the mountains of the Cordillera de Talamanca, in the southeastern part of Costa Rica, near the frontier with Panama.
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