So where does all this wildlife live? In an effort to protect the beauty over 25% of Costa Rica’s land has been turned into protected parks and reserves. According to Go Costa Rica, there are actually 27 national parks, 58 wildlife refuges, 32 protected zones, 15 wetland areas/mangroves, 11 forest reserves and 8 biological reserves, as well as 12 other conservation regions that protect the distinctive and diverse natural habitats found throughout the country. Wowza!
You can also hike to the summit, where you can peer (if you dare) into the steaming lower crater. Theoretically, it could blow at any time, but you’re unlikely to be so lucky. On the right trail, though, you will see fumaroles: holes, some hidden deep in the forest, that constantly emit sulfurous steam. On wet days, look for bubbling mud pots, another volcanic mainstay.

Climate: This entry includes a brief description of typical weather regimes throughout the year; in the Word entry only, it includes four subfields that describe climate extremes:ten driest places on earth (average annual precipitation) describes the annual average precipitation measured in both millimeters and inches for selected countries with climate extremes. ten wettest places on earth (average annual precipitation) describes the annual average precipitation measured in both millimeters and i . . . more
The rub is insurance, the full cost of which often exceeds the cost of the rental itself. Rental companies operating in Costa Rica offer several different types of optional insurance and one type of mandatory insurance – a liability policy that’ll set you back $15 to $25 per day, depending on the vehicle and carrier. Costa Rica Guide has a good primer on the confusing insurance regime. Bottom line: You can’t avoid mandatory insurance coverage, and you’ll probably want a supplemental policy that covers body damage if you plan to drive on unpaved mountain roads.
Due to its rich bio-diversity, pure beauty, and close proximity to Mother Nature in unison with its small ecological footprint, Costa Rica offers an experience like none other. Whether diving or snorkeling the crystal clear offshore protected waters, to zip-lining hundreds of feet above a giant old growth rainforest, you’ll be surrounding yourself with tropical beauty. Marveling at sunsets and sinking your feet in the warm sand, you’ll likely experience a complete detoxification, ultimately feeling the embrace of a carefree state of mind.
Or skip cash altogether. Every brick-and-mortar merchant we patronized, including hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Liberia, accepted major credit cards. Because they’re dollar-denominated at contemporaneous exchange rates, credit card transactions with foreign-transaction-fee-free cards are cheaper than cash transactions, which require withdrawals from ATMs charging 2% to 3% for the privilege. If you rent your own car and avoid the informal economy, you can get by without touching a paper note.

Traveling to Costa Rica between December and April is considered the dry season, with May bringing the beginnings of the wet season. The weather’s predictability wanes along the Caribbean coast, with rain falling throughout the year for an endlessly lush landscape. The series of volcanoes and mountains dividing the country from north to south creates a series of microclimates, accounting for the distinctive biodiversity. It is advisable to bring a light rain jacket at any time of the year and warmer clothing when visiting the highlands, including the cloud forests. 
In the event of a traffic accident, do not move the vehicle. Both the traffic police and an insurance investigator must make accident reports before the vehicles can be moved. Drivers using rental cars should clarify their company’s policy in the event of accidents. Rental companies may levy additional charges on drivers for failing to file a report.

Refrescos or simply frescos are beverages made from fresh fruit (cas, guayaba/guava, sandia/watermelon, mora/blackberry, fresa/strawberry, piña/pineapple, papaya), sugar and either water or milk (depending on the fruit). All sodas serve these. You can also easily buy the standard international soda pops; 'Fresca', 'Canada Dry' and the local 'Fanta Kolita' (fruit punch) are recommended.

* Sample prices displayed include international and domestic airline tickets as per itinerary and ALL airline-related taxes and fuel surcharges and are per person, based on double occupancy, and are dynamic in nature. Prices do not include insurance or delivery charges which are optional and customizable by the traveler. The airfare portion of the itinerary price is based on economy class, midweek departure. Prices do not include fees for carry on or checked baggage which can add additional fees per ticket on a roundtrip flight based on carrier charges. It also does not include any entrance fees or visa fees that may be charged at international airports. Some cities may charge local taxes that can only be collected by hotel at destination.
Monteverde was established in the 1950s by Quaker families eager to leave the United States and the political climate of the time behind them.  The families formed dairy farms that eventually grew into the Monteverde Cheese Factory. The small town sits atop the mountainous terrain surrounded by dirt roads and trails that lead into the Cloud Forest Reserve. The protected landscape encompasses more than 40 square miles and offers refuge to the stunning wildlife and embodying Costa Rica’s incredible biodiversity. Bird watchers and enthusiastic lovers of wildlife enjoy guided treks through the untouched forest terrain populated with strangler fig trees as dense forest canopy washes over the Continental Divide with views to both the Caribbean and Pacific shores on a clear day.
After you’ve had your fill of Playa Hermosa, head over the ridge – a short drive or long walk – and grab a cheap drink and plate at any of the beachfront cantinas along the area’s main drag. If you’re up for more adventure, sign up for a scuba or boat tour here – you’ll see signs lining the roads. Expect a daylong trip out on the water to set you back $100 per person.
As a large-scale seller of Costa Rica tours and Costa Rica vacations, we are able to offer you unbeatable prices and unparalleled value. Once you have found the discounted Costa Rica tour of your choice, please call our tour consultants to book your vacation and save money with our first-rate personalized service! Book your Costa Rica tour today with AffordableTours.com, your discounted tour headquarters. Learn More About Costa Rica Tours
For our 2017-2018 High Season Print Edition, we brought together a group of long-time Costa Rican residents – and our favorite urban tourism guru – to discuss their tips for a successful visit to Costa Rica during its busiest time of year. This week, we’re presenting more of their do’s, don’ts and secrets. To download our full print edition, pick up a copy, or learn more about distributing or advertising in The Tico Times, click here.
The key factor when going to study Spanish in Costa Rica is to decide what is the right location for you. The beach locations tend to be on the touristy side so they do not necessarily give the greatest immersion experience, however there are many Spanish schools near the beach as students like to split their time between studying Spanish in the classroom combined with activities on the beach or just relaxing on their time away from work. There is a growing trend of these Spanish schools at the beach also offering Surfing or Photography classes due to the environment around the school and the proximity to good surf.
Judicial Process: Due to differences in legal systems and case backlogs, local criminal and civil judicial processes can move slower in comparison to their U.S. equivalents. Civil suits on average take over five years to resolve. Some U.S. firms and citizens have satisfactorily resolved their cases through the courts, while others have seen proceedings drawn out over a decade without a final ruling.
Wildlife - Costa Rica is world famous for having an incredibly high level of biodiversity throughout its tropical forests (this covers what you may hear referred to as rain forests, cloud forests, and dry forests). There are tropical mammals such as monkeys, sloths, tapirs, and wild cats as well as an amazing assortment of insects and other animals. There are many many birds (both migratory and resident) - more on that below. With 25% of the country being national parks and protected areas, there are still many places you can go to see the abundant wildlife and lush vegetation of the country. Just like anywhere, the farther you get off the beaten path, the more likely you are to see a wide variety of flora and fauna.
It was so great!! Costa Rica is very beautiful. We have had difficult experiences booking online before and it was very very easy through Gate 1. And everything was taken care of. I recommended gate1 to all of my girlfriends i went to Puerto Vallarta with in May. They were super impressed by the price and quality of my trip. So thankful to Gate 1 Travel. By the way I love the sample itinerary with recommendations for stops while we were driving to the locations. Thanks to that we got to stop off and see some amazing places we would've never stopped at!! Please continue that!

The Arenal Volcano is a truly picturesque volcano. If you can imagine how you would have drawn a volcano when you were a kid, that is basically what it looks like: a perfect symmetrical cone. Surrounding the volcano are lush forests that are bursting with wildlife. There are beautiful waterfalls, hanging bridges, hiking and horseback riding trails, butterfly gardens, hot springs, and zip lines tours. The Arenal Volcano National Park pretty much has it all.
The park also offers a great habitat in which to view the endangered great green macaw and Fin whales that are found swimming off of the coast. The average rainfall reaches 200 inches annually, making it the wettest in the country, and the humidity is palpable throughout the year, allowing the plant life to flourish in the thick, tropical heat along the marshlands, swamps, lagoons, and slow-moving rivers. 
There are so many national parks in Costa Rica! Most tourists flock to Manuel Antonio National Park, but our personal favorite is Cahuita National Park because it is absolutely beautiful and not overly filled with tourists. We also created a guide to our favorite places to hike in Costa Rica. This will definitely help you find the best national parks (including some you have definitely never heard of).
Go to a bank to change money when possible and practical. If you find yourself needing to use the services of a person who is a money changer (Sunday morning at the border, for instance) make sure to have your own calculator. Do not trust money changers and their doctored calculators, change the least amount of money possible and take a hard look at the bills – there's lots of false ones out there. Always insist that your change be in small bills – you'll lose more at one time if a large bill is false, plus large bills are hard to change (even the equivalent of USD20 in Costa Rica or USD5 in Nicaragua can be difficult in some small towns, believe it or not!) Money changers do not use the official exchange rate - you are better off going to a state owned bank to exchange your currency at no fee.

December 20-ish through the end of the year, and Holy Week, the week before Easter, are the country’s monster tourism times. Prices go up and availability goes down dramatically during those weeks. Not only do foreigners flock here, but you’re competing for space with Costa Ricans. They have the time off, too. (Traffic-snarled San José becomes a virtual ghost town during Holy Week, called Semana Santa in Spanish.) Make hotel and car-rental reservations weeks—better yet, months—in advance if you plan to be here during those periods. And be prepared for one arcane oddity of Costa Rican law if you’re here during Holy Week: Holy Thursday and Good Friday are legally dry days in many communities, and no alcoholic beverages may be served or sold.

Our trip was amazing and we had the best time!! Gilbert, our tour guide was great. He was knowledgeable and we learned so much about Costa Rica and the culture. We still can't figure out how he spotted birds so high and animals hidden in leaves and trees!! He made every minute of the trip a once-in-a-lifetime moment. My husband is already planning out next Gate 1 Tour!!
This route requires 2 transfers. It begins from Manuel Antonio to Orotina, Orotina to Espanza, and finally Espanza to Tamarindo. There are two bus routes per day, the first route leaves at 5:00 am to arrive at 2:00 pm, however, we would not recommend it because the first transfer is scheduled to arrive at 8:00 am, which is the same time the second bus leaves. There may be traffic or other complications that may delay the bus. The second bus leaves at 8:00 am and arrives at 9:30 pm, for a 13.5 hour travel day.
The highway speed is 80km/h, but since the Interamericana (a.k.a. Highway #1) passes through innumerable small towns, the speed frequently drops to 50 or even 30km/h as you suddenly find yourself in a school zone. Most of the highway is not divided. A common indicator that a police checkpoint is ahead is that oncoming cars flick their lights at you. New laws that went into effect in 2010 have greatly increased the amount of tickets; it used to be a max of about USD20; there are now tickets that exceed USD400 for attempting to bribe an officer, and other big tickets for drunken driving, speeding, and other illegal actions including talking on a cell phone and not using seat belts. Be nice to the police if you are pulled over because, as a result of the new laws, it is possible for them to "throw the book" at you, although they generally do not. This could mean citing you for minor offenses that the new laws have instituted, such as the requirement that every car carry an emergency kit. New laws have also now enforced a 3 year prison sentence for driving with a 0.08 blood alcohol level and a USD480 fine. Driving over 20km/h over the speed limit is a USD310 and losing 20 points. Police now tend to target tourists because they think that Costa Ricans don't have the money to pay the big tickets---and they're right. The police themselves earn about USD500 per month, and that happens to be the average monthly wage in Costa Rica.
Easily accessible from Tamarindo, Playa Flamingo, Conchal, and Papagayo, the Catalinas Islands offer some of the best scuba diving in Costa Rica. This island chain is located off the Nicoya Peninsula in the northwest part of the country. The depth ranges between 18–75 feet (5.4–23 meters) and within this range there is an incredible diversity of wildlife. The islands are famous for their population and variety of rays, as well as tropical fish, sharks, sea turtles, and even sometimes whale sharks and pilot whales. Diving is incredible here all year around.
Pura vida! (That's how Gilbert told us to respond) Anyway, the trip was great. I saw more wildlife than I expected, and all of the accommodations were nice, as usual. Gilbert was an awesome guide. He was personable yet professional, and he was so knowledgeable about Costa Rica's biological aspects. Max was a true professional in his driving, so no complaints there. Overall, I give it a 10/10! I'm currently editing all of my bird and wildlife pictures, and I can't wait to share them! Awesome experience.
As of March 2017, the exchange rate was 554 colones per US dollar. Money exchange is provided at most banks; however, it is recommended to do so at the state banks, especially the Banco Nacional, since they have better rates. There is also a money exchange service at the airport, but it is outrageously expensive. But note that the use of US dollars is quite common; in the tourist setting, almost everything is priced in dollars (but sometimes prices are cheaper in colones). Note that when a price is quoted in "dollars", the speaker may be thinking of a dollar as 500 colones; so it is always worth checking whether this is what is meant.
Welcome to the world as seen through the eyes of Cameron and Natasha. On this site you’ll find our experiences, photography, and informative travel guides. We love getting to off the beaten path destinations and aren’t afraid to go it alone. We hope to inspire other independent travelers and provide the resources to do so. If you want to find us, just head to the nearest coffee shop or check back here!
Make sure to check the car carefully before you sign off on the damage sheet. Check the oil, brake fluid, fuel gauge (to make sure it's full) and that there is a spare tire with a good air pressure and a jack. Look up the Spanish word for "scratches" (rayas) and other relevant terminology first, so you can at least scrutinize the rental company's assessment. Ask them to write down all the minor damages, not just check on the drawing, and keep a copy of this document on you.
Costa Rica’s fauna are one of the many reasons people visit from all over the world. Sitting where the South and North American continents seem to overlap, Costa Rica experiences the best of both worlds, with a variety of animal and bird species that can be found nowhere else. Descriptions don’t do it justice! Head into one of Costa Rica’s cloud forests to check a hundred or so species off your bird-watching list. Visit the Tarcoles River and watch (from a safe distance!) the massive crocodiles that lurk under the surface. Plan a trip to Tortuguero during turtle-nesting, and view one of nature’s most amazing events – hundreds of sea turtles coming ashore on the same beach in a single night to lay their eggs. A single trip is never enough to see all the wonders Costa Rica has to offer.
Costa Rica’s many natural wonders make it a special place to explore, and to offer much more than a typical vacation destination. A visit to Costa Rica is hardly complete without a walk through its dense, tropical forests, where giant trees are home to hundreds of epiphyte plants, the sounds of rare bird species can be heard in the air, and slow-moving sloths can be...
Commonly referred to as the most biologically diverse place on Earth, Corcovado National Park is the largest stretch of virgin Pacific Coast forest in the world. With species such as the Northern Tamandua, Baird’s Tapir and the countries smallest cat species called Margay, it is home to more than 370 species of birds, 10,000 insects and 140 different mammals. Other famous residents include Spider Monkeys, Howler Monkeys, White-Faced Capuchin Monkeys and the endangered Squirrel Monkey. Reptiles to be wary of include American Crocodile and Boa Constrictors while Bull Sharks as well as several species of sea turtles roam the waters off-shore. Corcovado National Park is a wonder land of wildlife watching.
Eating Costa Rican food is a great way to learn more about the culture and history of the country. Staples at meal time include black beans and rice known as gallo pinto, a favourite for breakfast. Dinner brings delectables like sopa negra (black bean soup) and casado which highlights rice with an array of side dish like fried plantains, vegetables, fish, beef or chicken. For dessert, try the Costa Rican rice pudding known as arroz con leche and quench your thirst with a traditional shot of guaro which is a liquor made of sugar cane.
Thanks for the tips! Just returned from CR. Definitely found your info to be true-it takes a very long time to get places. We did not get to do many of the things we wanted. Plus when the Braulio Carrillo park at Volcan Barva did not open on time at 8am, it put us behind and unable to complete the day’s adventure. (We wanted to visit from both entrances but not enough time to drive around before they closed at 3:30. We still had a great visit though!) we did see a sloth but only thanks to a local kind enough to take the time to point it out-would never have seen it otherwise.

Monteverde was established in the 1950s by Quaker families eager to leave the United States and the political climate of the time behind them.  The families formed dairy farms that eventually grew into the Monteverde Cheese Factory. The small town sits atop the mountainous terrain surrounded by dirt roads and trails that lead into the Cloud Forest Reserve. The protected landscape encompasses more than 40 square miles and offers refuge to the stunning wildlife and embodying Costa Rica’s incredible biodiversity. Bird watchers and enthusiastic lovers of wildlife enjoy guided treks through the untouched forest terrain populated with strangler fig trees as dense forest canopy washes over the Continental Divide with views to both the Caribbean and Pacific shores on a clear day.
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You can also choose an apartment that offers more seclusion, like in the Osa Peninsula. If you’re looking to explore the history of Costa Rica, you can rent an apartment in Heredia for a look back into this tiny Central American country’s rich colonial Spanish heritage. Most of these properties are owned by individuals, and they will have an authentic, Costa Rican home feel to them.
Another of the natural gems you will find in the Alajeula Province, the La Fortuna Waterfall is one of Costa Rica’s must-see attractions. The waterfall is located in the heart of the lush rainforest at the base of the (dormant) Chato Volcano in Arenal Volcano National Park and is reached via a 20-minute hike through the lush forest. On arrival at La Fortuna Waterfall, you will find a splendid 75-meter jet of water that drops into a beautiful natural pool, which is perfect for a refreshing swim. Many visitors combine a visit to the waterfall with a hike up the Chato Volcano – you can call in at the visitors center to get a map and buy some souvenirs.
The best places to take a chocolate tour is Puerto Viejo and La Fortuna. We did a chocolate tour with the BriBri indigenous community outside Puerto Viejo which was fascinating since chocolate plays such an important part in their culture. The Puerto Viejo chocolate tour is another excellent one. We also did one with Rainforest Chocolate Tour in La Fortuna which was really fun and informative.
The Simon Bolivar Zoological Gardens is located in downtown San Jose, where it covers an area of around 14 hectares, part of which is a botanical garden. The zoo serves as a sanctuary to orphaned and injured wild animals, but there is no doubt that it is not one of the more progressive cage-less zoos – if you hate to see wild animals in cages, then this one is probably not for you. However, the zoo is very popular with local families and does give children the opportunity to see a wide variety of animals including birds, fish, capuchin monkeys, and a lion within a manageable space.
- Shared Shuttles are available on a daily basis - Morning and afternoon departs (depending on the destination) - Door-to-door service (We will pick you up at your hotel and leave you at your next destination hotel) - From/to most popular destinations in Costa Rica, including Arenal Volcano, Monteverde, Manuel Antonio, Jaco, Tamarindo, San Jose (SJO) and Liberia (LIR) airports. Please check the complete list of Shared Shuttles Destinations. - Insurance for each passenger - Prices are per person.
Costa Rica is the most visited nation in the Central American region,[106] with 2.9 million foreign visitors in 2016, up 10% from 2015.[107] In 2015, the tourism sector was responsible for 5.8% of the country's GDP, or $3.4 billion.[108] In 2016, the highest number of tourists came from the United States, with 1,000,000 visitors, followed by Europe with 434,884 arrivals.[109] According to Costa Rica Vacations, once tourists arrive in the country, 22% go to Tamarindo, 18% go to Arenal, 17% pass through Liberia (where the Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport is located), 16% go to San José, the country's capital (passing through Juan Santamaría International Airport), while 18% choose Manuel Antonio and 7% Monteverde.[110]
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