Waterfall at Rincon de la Vieja National Park, photo credit @afortuna2cr.
Roughly one fourth of Costa Rica’s area is protected. What does this mean? It includes national parks, reserves and refuges, mostly government owned but also private. The main objective of this effort which began in 1970, was to protect the biodiversity of the country’s flora and fauna. August 24th is National Park Day in Costa Rica. Learn more about the importance of the conservation efforts which began decades ago, and how to include these destinations in your Costa Rican vacation.
A National Park is a protected area category that allows for the conservation of a specific area´s biodiversity. In addition, it must house important ecosystems and show little or no signs of human activity. Especially relevant are attractive options and facilities for educational and recreational visitors which elevates a protected area´s status.
National Park Variety
Travel to Costa Rica and explore these protected areas. The famous Cocos Island, declared Natural World Heritage by the UNESCO is only accessible after a 32-hour boat journey. The very popular Manuel Antonio National Park, often named as having one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, is an easy drive from San Jose airport.
Hammerhead shark at Cocos Island photo credit @theyellowpassportblog.
Where to stay
Stay at Casa Corcovado Jungle Lodge to backpack through the Corcovado National Park, on the Osa Peninsula. Spectacular wildlife abound in this remote area: jaguars, several species of monkeys, tapirs, sloths, coatis, turtles, crocodiles and more.
Beach at Corcovado National Park, photo credit @crazycarter222.
Staying at Aninga, Evergreen, Pachira, Laguna or Mawamba lodges on the Northern Caribbean coast allow for easy access to the Tortuguero National Park. Most noteworthy for the seasonal arrival of several species of sea turtles. So, check nesting and hatching schedules and get ready to observe the wondrous cycle of life of these beautiful reptiles.
Canal at Tortuguero National Park, photo credit @roberbenitorodriguez.
If whale watching is on your bucket list, stay at La Cusinga Lodge or Cristal Ballena Boutique Hotel and Spa for easy access to the Marino Ballena National Park on the Southern Pacific Coast. Best months to see humpback whales are September and October.
In the Northern region of Costa Rica, Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel provides practically next door access to the Tenorio Volcano National Park. The impossibly light blue waters of the Rio Celeste Waterfall and its magical enchanted rain forest await.
Rio Celeste Waterfall, photo credit @riocelestehideaway.
The Rincon de la Vieja National Park offers trails to visit waterfalls, hot springs, picnic areas, healing volcanic mud baths and more. Stay close by at Hacienda Guachipelin, a sprawling property offering adventure tours without leaving its 3,400 acre ranch.
What to visit in Costa Rica
In conclusion, if you are undecided about places to visit during your Costa Rican vacation, National Parks are a wonderful guide to the flora and wildlife. Whether its your first time in Costa Rica, you are an avid birdwatcher and nature lover, there is something here for you to enjoy. Furthermore, your visit will support conservation efforts that make it possible to preserve these natural gifts for future generations.
Carara National Park, photo credit @pinacenta.
Article by Katie Widdowson