Sep201402

Traditionally the bulk of tourists have travelled to Canada and the USA, but with the World Cup past and Olympics coming up in Brazil, a lot more people are turning their attention to the southern part of the American continent.

Of course, Brazil is just one possible destination in South and Central America, with Costa Rica holidays providing a fantastic alternative for anyone looking to enjoy the tropical landscapes of the region, minus the crowds attending these major sporting events over the next couple of years.

Here are just some of the exotic attractions you can enjoy south of the US border:

Jungle

Costa Rica has a beautiful lush jungle interior, which transports the visitor to another world. The crisp, clean air is filled with the sound of exotic birds – it’s a million miles from the grit of city living. Lose yourself for hours walking muddy pathways through the trees, far from the madding crowd.

Wildlife

These forests harbour thousands of species – making Costa Rica the most biodiverse country on earth relative to its size. Among the five per cent of the Earth’s biodiversity that is squeezed into just 0.03 per cent of its surface area are incredible birds such as the rare resplendent quetzal, the keel-billed toucan and scarlet macaws. Mammals thrive here too, including the three-toed sloth, the howler monkey and the elusive jaguar.

Volcanoes

Running down the spine of the country is a chain of volcanic mountains, some dormant and some active, ready to erupt spectacularly at any moment. Arguably the most impressive of these is the perfect cone of Volcan Arenal in La Fortuna, which has adorned a thousand postcards. Visitors can walk its lava-strewn foothills, while nearby Cerro Chato is safe to climb. At the top lies a magical crater lake – a fine reward for a steep hike in sweaty conditions.

Beaches

Boasting two coastlines, Costa Rica has more than its fair share of exotic beaches. White sand backed by palm trees, warm waters teeming with marine life and waves to tempt surfers from across the globe await on both the Pacific and Caribbean sides of the country. The beach is the perfect destination when the sun is shining – as it frequently does during the long dry season.

Adventure

If you like adventure sports, you’ll love what Costa Rica has to offer. Zip line over the treetops, raft down raging rivers, surf the breakers on the coast, hike up volcanoes and ride through the countryside on horseback – you certainly won’t be bored.

Relaxation

In between adrenaline-pumping adventures, there are plenty of opportunities to relax. Take a soak in the thermal pools or have a massage among the trees in La Fortuna, Costa Rica’s premier spa town, or head to a yoga retreat on the Nicoya Peninsula.

Pura vida

What other country can you think of that follows an ethos of ‘pure living’? Pura vida is the motto of the Ticos (the locals), who use it as a greeting, a farewell, an expression of positivity and to give thanks. It encourages people to live life to the full and appreciate the beauty around them, of which there is plenty in Costa Rica. But it’s also the perfect holiday mantra, so use it liberally on your trip.