Located on the southern end of the Central American isthmus, just 10 degrees above the equator, Costa Rica is chock-full of amazing outdoor activities.
While it is a fairly small country, with a land area of only 51,100 square kilometers, the Central American nation is home to thick rainforests, several mountain ranges with peaks reaching more than 3.000 meters in elevation, stunning volcanoes, and two beautiful coastlines.
With all of these natural attributes, it is no wonder that there is no shortage of Costa Rican adventure trips.
From checking out the capital, San José, which is home to various zoos, parks, museums and squares to racing down zip lines in the jungle and climbing to the summit of Cerro Chirripó, the country’s tallest mountain, adventurers will find plenty of exciting things to do in Costa Rica!
In order to make the most out of your next trip to the world-class outdoor destination, we’ve compiled a list of the top travel adventures in Costa Rica. Enjoy!
Rising to 3.821 meters above sea level, Cerro Chirripó is Costa Rica’s tallest mountain and, therefore, one of the country’s top climbing destinations.
The climb begins with a beautiful approach through thick rainforest. As you walk, you will have the chance to see some of the stunning native flora and fauna of this richly biodiverse country. This is followed by a gradual ascent that is not very technically demanding.
Most guides will split the trip into two days, opting to spend the night at a mountain hut 2.000 meters above sea level, allowing you to acclimatize as you climb. Other guides will also extend the trip to include ascents of Cerro Terbi (3.760 m), Cerro Ventisqueros (3.812 m) or Cerro Uran (3.600 m).
Important: if you are planning to spend a night at Cerro Chirripo mountain hut, you should consider booking this trip with a few months of anticipation, in order to reserve your place at the hut.
Getting to Cerro Chirripó is also not too much of a challenge. Most trips to the mountain depart from the small city of San Gerardo de Rivas. Getting here by car simply requires a three-hour drive down Route 2 and then up Route 242.
Rental car is the easiest way to travel in Costa Rica.
Located in the north of the country, just west of the small city of La Fortuna, Arenal Volcano and the surrounding national park is home to an amazing family-friendly adventure.
The outdoor park is home to 10 platforms and ziplines, which are appropriate for children and families. These take the rider all around the national park, providing stunning views out over the rainforest, volcano and lake.
There really is no feeling quite like rushing through the canopy of the rainforest on this zipline.
Once the zipline is done, you head to the Tarzan swing, which is every bit as fun as it sounds.
After climbing up to a platform at the top of the canopy, you are strapped into a harness and jump. Enjoy the great views while swinging over the tree tops before you finally come to rest on the ground and can go back and do the whole thing all over again.
The Arenal Volcano National Park is also a popular spot for horseback riding and affords visitors the opportunity to walk across the hanging bridges.
Getting here is not so difficult either. By car, you will drive up Route 1 and Route 702 to La Fortuna. This takes about three hours. Most guides will provide transport from La Fortuna to the national park.
Located in the west of the country on the slopes of the Cordillera de Tilarán, the Monteverde Cloud Forest is one of the globe’s top biodiversity hotspot and an amazing place to spend a few days exploring.
Home to 2,500 species of plants, 650 species of animals and thousands of insect species, there is plenty of natural wonder to take in here. Ziplining is a fun and exciting way to explore this mesmerizing place.
The adventure begins with a gondola ride to the top of the reserve’s mountain. From here, you will have the chance to glide back down, stopping off at several stations along the way.
On the viewing platforms, you will have the chance to see some of the native flora and fauna, including tapirs, ocelots, parrots and monkeys, among many others.
Getting to Monteverde is not so tough either. Most guides will opt to meet you in the town of the same name, which is located nearby. From San José, you can get here by car, taking Route 1 to Route 606. This takes about three hours.
Providing a birds eye view of the rainforest, the Arenal hanging bridges offer a superb and unique opportunity to see this beautiful ecosystem from above.
Spanning from Arenal Volcano to Arenal Lake, the series of suspension bridges takes you through the forest, leaving you at various viewpoints. From these elevated platforms, you can see the rich biodiversity of the forest.
The national park is home to more than 850 species of animals, including monkeys, jaguars, coatis and the incredibly endangered and colourful resplendent quetzal.
Walking tours generally take a half-day, leaving plenty of time for the other activities available in the national park, including horseback riding, zip lining and the Tarzan swing.
Getting here is simple enough as well, just follow the same directions as the zipline and swinging adventure in Arenal Volcano National Park.
Costa Rica is such a diverse and beautiful country that you could spend an entire lifetime exploring its rainforests, mountains and coastlines.
It is difficult to distill so many unique experiences into one 2-week trip, but that’s just what we’ve tried to do.
Over the course of two weeks, this tour takes you to the summit of volcanoes, including Irazu, which is still active; up to the top Cerro Chirripó, the highest point in the country; through the Rainforest of the Austrians, nearby to San Gerardo de Rivas; on a boat through the scenic Drake Bay; and on a snorkeling trip to Isla del Caño.
Combining a little bit of everything, the tour allows you to see and learn about the various different terrains in this little country as well as experience some of its incredible biodiversity, from rare birds and mammals in the rainforest to sea turtles in the coral reef.
Joining one of the many adventure tours in Costa Rica is a great way to see the country and have a blast as well. Consider coming to this Central American paradise on your next holiday!
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