Costa Rica: A Nature Lover’s Paradise

Have you ever considered visiting Costa Rica? This Central American eco country is famous for its rainforests and biodiversity, so is an absolute dream for nature lovers. It has been described as “the most biologically intense place on Earth” by National Geographic because it crams 2.5% of the planet’s biodiversity into just 0.001% of its surface area. And with roughly a quarter of the country made up of protected national parks and areas, which are home to over 840 species of birds, around 2000 plants and hundreds of mammals too, it is an experience you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Costa Rica even aims to be the first country to eliminate all single- use plastics; it takes environmental issues very seriously!

It is also a great place to travel generally. As explained in this article by The Telegraph, it is a cool country to visit for loads of very good reasons. For example, in 2016, it was named the happiest place in the world by the Happy Planet Index; that is pretty awesome to say the least! Who wouldn’t want to visit?!

Title Costa Rica: Nature Lovers Paradise on faded background image of Costa Rica coastline.

Where To Stay

Enjoy a spot of luxury in one of these beautiful Costa Rica rentals. Or you could spend time travelling around different parts to fully appreciate the diversity of this fabulous country. Honest advice suggests that perhaps the capital, San Jose, is not the best place to stay and it is probably a good idea to plan as little time there as possible. However, the rest of Costa Rica sounds absolutely amazing and there are lots of fantastic location choices.

The west (Pacific side) tends to be hotter and is the more touristy side, especially with American visitors, so this might be considered easier with kids. Manuel Antonio National Park, for example, is situated right in the centre of the west coast, and is a great place for seeing an abundance of wildlife.

Costa Rica National Parks map

Source: Go Visit Costa Rica

Places To Visit

As I have said, Costa Rica is all about the stunning scenery along with an incredibly vast range of plants and wildlife. These can best be found at the numerous national parks and nature reserves, and each one has its own unique qualities. I have already mentioned a couple of places briefly, but here is some further information about a selection of the must-see, must-do nature spots…

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Puntarenas Province

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve sounds like a truly spectacular place where you can not only see an amazing array of wildlife, but you can also walk across a hanging bridge to view the forest canopy from magnificent heights. You can even zip wire over the forest!

Monteverde Cloud Forest hanging bridge above the forest canopy.

Monteverde, Costa Rica by Haakon S. Krohn (Source: Wikimedia)

There are other cool things to do at Monteverde as well; such as eat in a quirky treehouse restaurant, exciting horse riding treks or visit Don Juan’s Coffee Farm. Costa Rica Experts detail this tour on their website: “This tour gives you a closer look of the production of Don Juan’s coffee. After learning the drying and roasting process of the beans, explore other food staples of Costa Rica. Embark on a culinary journey. Discover the history of cocoa pods and make your own chocolate using traditional Costa Rican recipes. Yes, you will get to try your creations! This sweet experience continues to the “El Trapiche” (a mill made of wooden rollers), which is used as a tool to extract sugarcane juice and make tasty sweets and much more. This visit wouldn’t be complete without the chance to buy an authentic cup of Costa Rican coffee at the souvenir shop.”

Tortuguero National Park

This is home to nesting sea turtles, and respect for their needs is to be priority if visiting this park. For this reason, the area is out of bounds after 6pm unless you are with an official tour guide. During these night tours, you will see most likely see adult turtles coming onto the beach to lay their eggs. However, if you are lucky, you might even spot a newly hatched turtle heading toward the water!

As well as turtles, there are plenty of birds, fish, monkeys and other wildlife to see at this National Park. A good way to do this is by taking a boat ride along the canal. Or you can hire a canoe and paddle down.

La Fortuna, Alajuela

This is perhaps one of the best known tourist spots, because it is situated at the centre of several wonders. Top of that is Arenal Volcano, an active volcano that regularly erupts. There are also hot springs to bathe in, heated naturally by the thermal activity from Arenal. Then there is the most stunning waterfall too. Plus there are day and night tours at nearby Ecocentro Danaus, a private ecology reserve, for wildlife watching. With such breath-taking scenery and experiences, it is hardly surprising that it is a popular choice. For this reason though, I am told it can get very busy! Check out quieter times to visit if you prefer to avoid the crowds.

La Fortuna waterfall, Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park has a wealth of wildlife to discover. You can explore independently or get a tour guide. As A Strong Coffee To Go explains, even just sitting on the beach you will see animals such as sloths, monkeys and iguanas without going to any effort. But if you are keen to spot more hidden creatures, as well as gain greater insight and knowledge, then you might find a tour guide beneficial. They carry telescopes and know where and what to look for, which gives a somewhat huge advantage over an inexperienced traveller with their naked eye. Of course, you don’t need a telescope, or an expert, simply to bask in the beautiful surroundings though!

One of the beautiful birds that can be spotted in Costa Rica rainforests.

Obviously these are just a small handful of the wonderful places to visit in Costa Rica. But wherever you choose, and whether you cram in as much as you can or take things at a more leisurely pace, it is bound to be an unforgettable experience! It truly does sound like a nature lover’s paradise.

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Home Or Away? Why Both Scotland And Portugal Are On My Travel Bucketlist!

I have already written about various destinations on my travel bucketlist and for this post I have two more! These are by no means new to my list, but I haven’t blogged about them specifically until now. However, I have picked these because they will most likely be the main contenders for our next trip!

Home Or Away? Why Both Scotland And Portugal Are On My Travel Bucketlist! Image of Scotland and Portugal

Scotland is on my bucketlist because I think it has absolutely beautiful countryside and is special to me because we went there as a final trip with my mum when she was terminally ill. Portugal is largely due to Squiggle showing an interest in it because she has a Portuguese friend, but also I haven’t been myself either and would love to go. So which should we go for next; home or away?!

Scotland

Technically not a staycation yet close enough to feel like it, Scotland is somewhere I am keen to explore with Squiggle because of the abundance of outdoor space with its stunning countryside scenery and a wealth of nature and wildlife to spot. Travel to Scotland from England is relatively quick and easy too, with various modes an option depending on your preferences and priorities. I have travelled by both plane and rail previously, but would drive with Squiggle so we have the freedom and flexibility. It is roughly a 6 – 7 hour roadtrip to reach the Scottish borders from London so a stopover might well be required too!

Beautiful Scottish countryside. Image from clickstay.
Credit: Clickstay

Aside from a brief trip to Glasgow once for a conference, the only time I have visited Scotland is for the memorable holiday mentioned above. There were around a dozen members of family and friends, so we treated ourselves (with massive help from a wonderful charity) to a huge amazing chateau to stay in, much like some of the ones on Clickstay. It is so fun and unique staying somewhere so magnificent in the middle of the countryside. Of course there are slightly more modest options to stay too though!

Massive chateau in Scotland. Image by Clickstay.
Credit: Clickstay

Portugal

As mentioned already, I haven’t been to Portugal despite it being one of the closer countries to visit abroad from here in England. I kind of feel, for me at least (and when I was younger), that Portugal always seemed understated whenever holiday destinations were discussed – almost as if it were a lesser known cousin to places like France, Spain or Germany. I don’t know why that is. Maybe it had successfully avoided becoming a tourist trap (which is a good thing!) and I just hadn’t opened my eyes to less obvious options. I don’t know. But yet I gather it is a great travel choice!

Portugal coastline.
Credit: Clickstay

Portugal has some gorgeous rugged beaches that I have seen compared to the Californian coastlines, whilst also benefitting from plenty of green space too. With a warm climate for much of the year, and some parts even winter is mild, it is ideal for soaking up some vitamin D whilst enjoying plenty of time outdoors. It also has some interesting history, and it is a great learning experience to explore new countries and immerse yourself in different cultures. I am sure Squiggle would love to pick up some of the language along the way too, as she mentioned this before!

Villa in Portugal
Credit: Clickstay

I would most likely stay in a beautiful villa in Portugal, because I think it is nice to have that homely feel and tonnes of space to ourselves. Squiggle finds it abit overwhelming otherwise to be honest. One with a private pool would be preferable, as that would be a wonderful luxury that we would definitely make the most of!

So where will we end up next – Scotland or Portugal? Or somewhere else entirely? I will keep you posted! Where are you going on your travels?

*This is a collaborative post.

#Blogtober 2016 – Day 27: Place I would Most Like To Visit

Ooh, now this one is easy; I have written about places I would like to visit already, in the About Us section. Check it out to find out my answer!

#Blogtober16