With its compact size, location and diverse terrain, Costa Rica has become one of the world's prime ecotourism destinations. Situated in the Central American isthmus between Nicaragua in the north and Panama in the south, bordered by both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, and with a central volcanic mountain range, the country provides many different areas that can be combined during even a short visit.
During our trip, we stayed in four completely different destinations in addition to a couple of necessary overnight stopovers in the capital city of San Jose.
We started by travelling by road up country to the Tortuguero National Park
on the Caribbean coast, staying at Mawamba Lodge
. This area is covered by lowland rainforest and an inland maze of channels and waterways, which provided excellent wildlife viewing from a small boat.
We then flew back to San Jose to transfer by road to the Arenal Nayara Hotel & Gardens
at the foot of Mount Arenal
, a still-active volcano, and a completley different and certainly much cooler location than we had left by the coast. This is a good base for taking a day trip up to the remote Cano Negro National Wildlife Refuge
on the Nicaraguan border - another wetland area with numerous lagoons and inlets off the main River Frio.
We left Arenal to travel overland to Monteverde, the transfer starting with a short drive to Lake Arenal where we boarded a boat for a 40min crossing, following which we had a 4x4 drive on what must be the roughest roads we have ever encountered. Monteverde
is a relatively isolated area high in the cloud forest, which turned out to be very cold and wet! We saw hummingbirds, but little else. We stayed in a rather basic cabin at El Sapo Dorado
The final leg of our trip started with a long, but pleasant, road trip back to San Jose for an overnight stop. The following morning we took a short flight south to Palmar Sur from where we travelled overland before boarding a small boat which would take us down the Sierpe River and out into the Pacific Ocean. This was a great way to make our way down to our last base, which was the beautiful Casa Corcovado Jungle Lodge
in the Corcovado National Park
on the remote Osa Peninsula
. The location of this lodge was perfect for exploring the rainforest along the coast and for taking a boat trip out to Isla del Cano
The country has nearly forty national parks and nature reserves, so there are still plenty to visit hopefully sometime in the future.