Mesoamerican Paradise: Costa Rica

Costa Rica lies adjacent to Nicaragua and Panama, and has been termed by many as an “intermediate region” between Mesoamerican and Andean native cultures. The terrain consists of deep valleys, rolling hills, sand beaches, dense forests, vast plains, wetlands, mountains, and volcanoes. Cerro Chiripo is the country’s highest point at 3,819 meters and Lake Arenal, the country’s largest lake, produces 7% of the country’s electricity. While Costa Rica has been independent since the 19th century, it had once been a victim to colonization. During the age of Spanish imperialism, Christopher Columbus first landed in Costa Rica in 1502 where the indigenous population was swiftly conquered. In 1524, the country was incorporated as a province of New Spain and the Spaniards laid claim to the country for the next 300 years. Costa Rica then became part of the Mexican Empire in 1821 but in 1838 the country gained its independence. Today the country thrives on technology and eco-tourism and is known for its commitment to human rights and democracy.

Among Americans, Costa Rica is the most popular international travel destination. 39% of Costa Rica’s tourists come from the U.S. and in 2013 the country had a total of approximately 2.4 million tourists. The popularity is only increasing and the 2.4 million visitors in 2013 showed a 3.6% increase from the previous year. While the country has seen massive growth in tourism, the country maintains a philosophy of sustainability. The country balances the use of natural and cultural resources with the economic demands of society. The goal of this philosophy is to improve the inhabitants’ quality of life while enabling industrial economic success that contributes to national development. This is imperative for many countries like Costa Rica to follow in order for them to be competitive.

Many tourists visit the country for adventure and outdoor activities such as rafting, canyoning, zip lining, hiking, surfing, fishing and mountain climbing. Many raft along the Pacuare River, which forms the northern border for some of Costa Rica’s national parks and protected reserves. This river is known to offer some of the finest white water rafting in Latin America and flows deep into lush rainforest that is home to monkeys, jaguars, ocelots, and many different bird species. While rafting is popular, with outdoor sports like canyoning, visitors get into the heart of river canyons, waterfalls, rainforests, and volcanoes. Lake Arenal is a case in point because its diverse terrain and numerous rivers make it one of the most attractive places for canyoneers and other hikers. Many visitors also enjoy zip-lining because they get to explore the canopies of Costa Rica’s many rainforests and can even get a bird’s eye view of vast landscapes and water bodies.

There are many travel packages that show the natural beauty and biodiversity of Costa Rica. For 2016, Condor Tours and Travel is offering packages from six to fourteen days that include deep-sea fishing, rain forest exploration, beach destinations, volcanoes, surfing, and honeymoon packages. The fishing tour includes two full days of deep-sea fishing and lodging is at the Tamarindo Diria hotel. Guests will leave from the Flamingo Beach Marina and after the two fishing tours they can take advantage of Tamarindo’s beaches, restaurants, and nightlife. Between the jungle and the ocean is a nine-day tour that includes zip-lining through Selvatura Park, hiking at Tenorio National Park, and sight-seeing at Poas Volcano and the Central Valley. Accommodations include breakfast every morning and lodging at the El Establo Hotel and Rio Celeste Hideaway. There are many more destination and activity packages at www.condortoursandtravel.com that highlight the natural beauty of the most popular international travel destination for Americans.