Pura vida, and action!

Costa Rica is the ideal country for travelers looking for outdoor adventures. We propose 5 exciting activities to enjoy its nature.

How would you like to be the protagonist on a journey through the Costa Rican countryside, experiencing everything this beautiful nation has to offer through five activities that reflect the infinite possibilities of its unparalleled natural landscape.

Chapter Trail

Costa Rica: “Pura vida”… and action!


Central Pacific Coast

crocodile in costa rica waters

“The earth loves our footsteps, yet fears our hands”, reads a sign on the road that crosses the bridge over the Tarcoles River, a true sanctuary of the American crocodile, of which some fifteen enormous specimens in its waters attest.

Some solitary fishermen sell their catch of the day on the side of the road leading to Playa Agujas, in the province of Garabito, whose name comes from the indigenous Huetar ethnic group that once controlled this area.

fried fish in costa rica with vegetables

In the vicinity of Jacó beach we see a gigantic guanacaste, the country’s national tree, in which several scarlet macaws rest. These macaws attract large numbers of curious tourists from all over the world. “Today there are between 250 and 300 pairs of macaws left, thanks to strict police controls which have led to a reduction in illegal trafficking,” our guide Paulo tells us.

A stranger offers us pieces of guava fruit on the beach, which makes me realize that I still haven’t grown accustomed to the kindness of the Costa Rican people.

yellow boats in costa rica on a beach
PICTURES: Coke Riera

We are on the central Pacific coast of Costa Rica, where we will be spending the day with an agency that specializes in stand-up paddleboarding and sea kayaking. Along the beach, several Hawaiian canoes lie waiting for us to begin our snorkeling excursion along the coast.


Parque Nacional Marino Ballena

dolphins diving in costa rica

We wake up to the enigmatic sounds of the jungle: birds, insects, monkeys and other animals you would not identify even with a guide in front of you. In the town of Uvita, we are astonished by the number of local businesses selling animal watching, diving, surfing, kayaking, and even paragliding trips. We are welcomed by Pedro Rojas who was born 50 years ago in the Boruca reserve and has been working as a guide for the last seven years.

We hop aboard his boat and cruise past a sand formation in the shape of a whale’s tail, which can be seen every six hours as the tides recede. From the boat we admire the immense orchard that covers the mountains lining the coast. Overhead a pair of pelicans flies just beneath dark tropical clouds threatening a storm that never comes.

“It’s a very safe area, there are no strong swells or currents, that’s why so many whale families come here,” Pedro tells us, “but this is not a museum, in an hour everything moves. Besides, I don’t control the currents”.

These waters are famous for the observation of dolphins, whales, and reef turtles. We take advantage of the calm conditions to go snorkeling and as we hop into the water we are immediately surrounded by fish of all sizes and colors, eels and starfish. Pedro stands on lookout at the bow scanning the horizon. “Sometimes you find everything in an hour. Other times it takes much longer… but you always see dolphins. Always.” Said and done: suddenly a pod of dolphins appear and disappear in short intervals of time, they seem to be playing with us.

Costa Rica island on the sea
PICTURES: Coke Riera

“Many times we forget how beautiful our land is, but you tourists help us to remember,” he comments to us as he says goodbye.


Pacuare River

boating on pacuare river

An intense tropical rain batters us as we paddle vigorously. We’re rafting downstream on the Pacuare River surrounded by breathtaking nature. Colorful toucans fly overhead and enigmatic monkeys howl from the dense jungle, overlapping the powerful sound of each approaching white water rapid. “It’s the purest experience of my life,” my traveling companion tells me with a huge smile on his face.

Our guide Octavio, a Cabecar Indian, proudly points out that we are in his territory. He knows the river like the back of his hand, as well as the surrounding hills and mountains, all of which are part of a protected area that includes private properties and indigenous reserves. After six kilometers of descent, we arrive at a group of cabins and wooden constructions camouflaged among dense vegetation at the edge of the river.

The forest is an orchard of pure air, perfect for complete disconnection. We take advantage of the day to talk with the guides and clients, swim in the river and admire the spectacular forest canopy that runs throughout the property. As the landscape changes with the light of the passing day we are able to search for insects, birds, mammals or reptiles…

man on a bridge in costa rica

During the night we are lulled to sleep by the constant sound of the river and the gentle patter of the rain. We wake up to a subtle mist that gives the river a mystical touch, and we have a hearty breakfast of gallo pinto before launching ourselves into another day of adventure on the river. Despite a forecast of low water levels, strong emotions await us as we contemplate the adventure of rafting over class IV rapids.


San Gerardo de Dota

man looking at falls costa rica

A hundred kilometers away and a 3000-meter difference in elevation we go from sleeping with air conditioning to sleeping with a hot water bottle under our blankets. The vegetation alongside our route changes from bright green and leafy to more lush, deep and darker tones. An Ijereta hawk flies overhead as we watch the mists rise among ridges and ravines. The huge white clouds prevent us from seeing the summit of Chirripó, the roof of Costa Rica at 3,820 meters above sea level. We are on our way to Cerro de la Muerte, at more than 3,000 meters, from where you can see the Pacific Ocean on a clear day. Road signs along the way depict exotic wild animals like the tapir and remind us to take caution to protect endemic fauna.

We turn into the valley of San Gerardo de Dota, crossed by the Savegre River, between dense cloud forests, mossy oaks and tropical plants. This valley is said to be the birthplace of the quetzal, a bird worshiped by the Aztecs and said to be the most beautiful in the world. Birders from all over the world flock here because of the possibility to spot a Quetzal in the wild. “Above all, tourists who are interested in direct contact with nature: bird watching, horseback riding tours and hiking love to visit this area…”, says Rolando Chacón, manager of the Savegre Hotel. “It used to be a cattle ranching area, and now it is a first-class tourist destination. The good thing is that all the hotels have understood and assimilated the culture of sustainability”.

man crossing bridge in costa rica
PICTURES: Coke Riera

The valley is crisscrossed by several trails of varying difficulty, which facilitate communion with this pristine natural landscape and its mystical atmosphere. Among them all, the one that leads to the San Gerardo waterfall is unmissable. The trail is a kilometer and a half walk along a path that crosses bridges, stairs and delicate steps secured by ropes, in a jungle setting of palm trees, vines and trunks besieged by vegetation and mosses.

It’s a true delight! And for those of you who are thrilled by the risks of cycling, there is a trail that descends three thousand vertical meters from Cerro de la Muerte to the coast!


Yorking River

man boating in costa rica

“For the Bri Bri, there are no borders,” says Ronaldo, our young canoe guide, as we float along the Costa Rica-Panama border up the Yorkin River into the depths of the jungle. We are in indigenous territory on the way to the community of Yorkin to spend a day in a Bri Bri community. For years, this community has been developing a tourism project to attract visitors with respect for nature and culture.

More than a decade ago, the Estibrawpa Women’s group was born in the community of Yorkin. With the support of various organizations, they offer lodging, food and excursion packages in the area. Today you can visit them to learn about their way of life, their customs, legends, and their vision of the world. The artisans of the community show us how they elaborate items with the materials they extract from the jungle. They cook delicious indigenous-style meals over an open fire with food that comes from their own crops. In addition, they teach us the secrets of making chocolate, a process in which we actively participate until we manage to elaborate a delicious choco-banana. A proud young man teaches us how to shoot a bow and arrow, while some women explain the healing properties of endemic plants around the village. In some nearby pools, a group of children plays happily while others fish.

sea in costa rica
PICTURES: Coke Riera

From here you can visit other communities or visit the Cerro Buena Vista, an hour away from the community, with its impressive panoramic views of the Talamanca mountain range and its large primary forests. This is an experience that you will always remember for the serenity and harmony transmitted by its people in a completely pure atmosphere.

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