Tag: Costa Rica

As I whizzed along a wire 100 metres high among the treetops, it occurred to me that this definitely wasn’t your usual way to explore a nature reserve. But to really see much of the Monteverde Cloud Forest, you’ve got to get up high. The reserve covers 26,000 acres of rainforest with over 2500 plant species, 400 types of bird and hundreds of butterfly, insect and mammal species. Though it’s not all that easy to spot them, as the clouds that give the forest its name lay over it like a blanket much of the time. The forests are formed when moist winds blowing from the coast collide with the mountain range and condense into a fine mist.
With a coastline on both sides of the county, Costa Rica has no shortage of beaches, with over 300 of them. They vary hugely – from black sand to pure white, from wave-battered surf spots to calm bays, from busy beach resorts to protected National Parks. Two of the most beautiful I visited were National Parks, where there’s no development, just you, the beach and some of the local wildlife. On the eastern, Caribbean coast is Cahuita National Park. Trails lead through the jungle, past lizards, sloths and monkeys, before emerging on a Bounty advert-style narrow white sand beach lined by palm trees.
One of Costa Rica’s most famous sights, how hard can it be to spot a volcano that’s 1600 metres high and has a 140-metre-wide crater when you’re only a few miles away from it? Well, a lot harder than you’d think. A perfect cone-shaped peak – or so I’m told – Volcan Arenal towers over the nearby town of La Fortuna. But local weather conditions mean that the top is often totally covered by clouds, and its not unusual to go your whole visit without ever seeing the summit, as I found out on my trip there.
After two long days of travel by train, planes, bus and boat, I had finally arrived at my first stop in Costa Rica – Tortuguero National Park. Named after the turtle, or tortuga, it’s one of the most important nest sites for endangered species like the Green, Hawksbill and Loggerhead turtles. It’s also home to a huge range of other wildlife, with 300 species of birds, 110 types of reptiles and 50 different amphibians. But for the non-amphibious, as Tortuguero is surrounded by water on both sides – with the Caribbean sea on one hand and a lagoon on the other – the only way to get to or around the park is by boat.

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