Without doubt, Costa Rica has the most natural beauty of Central America and maybe even of Latin America. Eleven percent of the country consists of national parks. Twenty-seven percent is a protected area in some other way. It is the El Dorado for nature lovers, and there are many exotic animals that you may suddenly run into just about anywhere. In Costa Rica, you will find national parks, active volcanoes, rain forests, mountains, and more than 1200 kilometers of coastline. The country is sparsely populated. That is why you still find a great variety of animals in the wild: monkeys, turtles, sloths, skunks, anteaters, armadillos, and 850 different types of tropical birds. Some of these animals are unique in the world. If you are lucky, you might even see jaguars and tapirs.
There are volcanoes you can climb or—in case they are active—safely watch from a distance. Monteverde is a national park with impressive cloud forests. While hiking in this pristine jungle, you can see the endangered Quetzal. Tortuguero lies at the Caribbean coast, thousands of green sea turtles gather here every year from July to October to lay their eggs on the beach. Are you a fan of outdoor sports? Then Costa Rica is a great choice: mountain climbing, wild water rafting, surfing, deep-sea fishing, canopy, cycling, and horseback riding are all activities that can easily be arranged.
Peninsula de Osa, the southern part of the Pacific coast, has the biggest national park in the country—Corcovado. This park ranks among the top five areas in the world when it comes to biodiversity. Apart from the four species of monkeys that live in Costa Rica, you can also meet jaguars and tapirs. You can visit the park from Bahia Drake or from Puerto Jimenez, but Bahia Drake is by far a more beautiful base from which to start. In the village, there are expensive eco lodges, but you can also find basic hotels that you don’t have to book in advance. You can make daily trips to the park. For the real adventure seeker, there is the possibility to stay overnight in the park itself. This way you can spot the animals early in the morning, when they are at their most active. Costa Rica is also known as the Switzerland of Central America because the standard of living is high and the country does not have an army. We work with a school located in the middle of the mountains near Turrialba and with a school on the Caribbean coast at the beach of Puerto Viejo.
Puerto Viejo is a small, quiet village in the southeast of Costa Rica at the Caribbean Sea, close to Panama. Besides the beautiful location in the middle of the jungle, Puerto Viejo has acquired fame among surfers from all over the world. This because of the high and constant waves. It is a place that attracts many backpackers. On the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica there are not a lot of big hotels or all-inclusive resorts yet. Just outside the village you are surrounded by jungle with all of its inhabitants: sloths, monkeys, anteaters, armadillos, and many colorful birds. The village has an array of restaurants, from the cheap local eateries the “soda,” where you can get a whole meal for only $5.00, to the more luxurious and mostly foreign-owned restaurants, which offer international dishes. There are two discotheques on the beach that play modern music, a salsa discotheque, weekly jam sessions, and many live performances of bands in bars and restaurants. Do you like to listen to music, or do you like to dance? Puerto Viejo has it all: salsa, merengue, reggae, jazz, calypso, rock and reggaeton. Photo above: Fishing boats on the beach of Puerto Viejo.
Excursions / activities Puerto Viejo
- Horseback riding
- Learn to surf or hire a board. The school collaborates with a good surf school; we will be happy to help you organize lessons. Only in the month of September there will be hardly any surfing because the waves are too low.
- Visit the sloth-rescue center and learn about the life of the sloth. You also will get an interesting boat trip on which among other things you will see many species of birds and caimans www.slothrescue.org
- Dolphin tour
- Snorkel tour
- Visit the Indian reservation
- Go diving or get your PADI
- Visit the botanical gardens, butterfly garden, iguana farm.
- Do a jungle hike in the private reserve ‘La Ceiba’ during the day or at night www.rpceiba.com
- Take a special ‘bird-watching-tour’
- And don’t forget to work on your tan by: walks on the beach, sunbathing, swimming and body surfing
Turrialba has about 40.000 inhabitants and is located between the colonial city of Cartago and the Caribbean coast. It is a quiet village with not a lot of bars or discotheques but with a couple of restaurants. On weekends there are some places where the locals go for entertainment but it is not known for its nightlife. The mountainous area around Turrialba is rural and consists of coffee plantations, farms, river valleys and jungle. Because Turrialba lies near the two prettiest rivers of Costa Rica, the Rio Reventazón and the Rio Pacuari, it has become very popular with river rafters. You can go wild water rafting throughout the year on rivers surrounded by jungle. For river rafting enthusiasts there are possibilities up to class 4!
- River rafting
- Horseback riding trips
- Mountain biking
- Walk in the crater of the Irazú volcano.
- Canopy tours: explore the rain forest high up in the trees by ropes and platforms.
- Visit the most important archaeological excavation of Costa Rica: ‘Monumento Nacional Guayabo’ 9 km. outside of Turrialba; dating from 1000 BC till 1400 AC.
- Relax in the weekend on the Caribbean beaches like Cahuita of Puerto Viejo.
- Weekend: visit Tortuguero from February until the beginning of October (breeding ground for the ‘leatherback’ tortoise and the green tortoise). Besides turtles there are caimans, crocs and 400 different types of birds here.
Activities in general in Costa Rica
- Horseback riding
- Mountain biking
- Bird watching (more than 850 species)
- Climb volcanoes
- River rafting
- Canopy tours
- All beach activities: wind and golf surfing, diving, snorkeling, sailing, waterskiing.
- Hiking through national parks with or without guide: Parque Nacional Corcovado: rainforest, Parque Nacional Santa Rosa: tropical forest (ideal for camping), Parque Nacional Chirripó: Hiking to the highest top of Costa Rica (3820 meters / 12500 feet).
- Visit the Peninsula de Osa: a still unspoiled piece of nature
- Try out ‘gallo pinto’ for breakfast or ‘casado’ for dinner. Both are good variations on the traditional “rice and beans”.
- Great night life
Entire Latin America requests an onward ticket showing you will leave the country within a period of 3 months. It’s, as far as we know, only Panama and Costa Rica that follow this rule strictly. You even will not be able to check-in at the airport when you are not able to show an onward ticket leaving these countries. The airline is held responsible and will have to take you back to your home country when you do not have your paper work in order. So this will be checked at the airport of your home country. When you leave within 3 months (90 days) you will have no problem at all!
- Lonely Planet Costa Rica
- Fascinating Costa Rica
- Map: Costa Rica
- Weather: weather.com
- Vaccinations: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/costa-rica
Online free Spanish courses:
Travelling and country info:
- Travel and tours in Costa Rica: Travel in paradise Costa Rica
We offer in Costa Rica:
- Spanish classes
- Spanish & Adventure Trip
- Travelling Classroom Panama and Costa Rica
Go back to the Homepage to see the different possibilities of learning Spanish in Central and South America or combining your Spanish course with free volunteer work.