Friday, October 30, 2009

Costa Rica: Trivia Answers...Finally!!

And now, the Long awaited answers that have been eating away at you for...nearly 48 hours!

1. As in the Galapagos, several species are endemic to Cocos Island (found nowhere else in the world); one of them is the Cocos Cukoo.

2. Who was the first westerner in Costa Rica and is commonly credited (probably incorrectly) with dubbing the land “The Rich Coast”? Christopher Columbus

3. You can see the Costa Rican glass frog’s heart beating through its abdomen.

4. Several thousand tough stabilizing roots up to 20 meters (66 feet) long wind through the loose sand from the base of coconut (Coco, Cocotero, Cocos nucifera) trees which are rarely toppled even by the strongest hurricanes.

5. Las Hornillas in Northern Costa Rica has boiling mudpots, steam vents, and small geysers.

6. Costa Rica imports about half-a-million dollars worth of beer every year. Seventy-five percent from Mexico and the remainder from the U.S. and Europe.

7. Green Sea Turtles are named after the color of the layer of fat on their meat, not the color of their shell.

8. Costa Rica has the cheapest, most convenient and reliable phone system in Latin America

9. Several species of bees search miles from home to find the Bejuco de Pan (Dalechampia scandens) vines that produce a waterproof, moldable resin they use in nest construction.

10. Tarantulas (Matacaballos) can grow to over 10” (25 cm) and some can make a snakelike hiss by rubbing the hairs of their legs together.

11. Each female leatherback will nest as many as 12 times a season, every 10 days or so (usually at night to avoid dehydration).”

12. Consistent winds across Lake Arenal make it one of the premier windsurfing sites in the world.

13. Cebia or Kapok (Cebia petandra) trees are best known for producing fibers used in life preservers and furniture cushions, but their name comes from the Caribbean word for the canoes (cebia) that were carved from its long, straight, soft trunks.

14. The official term for a citizen of Costa Rica is Costariquense, but you will probably never hear it. Costa Ricans refer to themselves as Ticos and Ticas.

15. Chirripo peak in Costa Rica is home to the northernmost occurrence of the high altitude Paramo ecosystem

Special thanks to for all of its amazing trivia questions and answers!!!

How did you do??

This is the last post for Costa Rica. We hope you learned a lot and enjoyed it as much as we did! Stay tuned for a new country of the month, Dubai!!


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Costa Rica : Comida tipica

Costa Rican cuisine is simple but heavy on oil and some spices. Comida tipica or native dishes, rely heavily on rice and beans, the basis of many Costa Rican meals. Home-style cooking predominates. But meals are generally wholesome and reasonably priced. Gallo Pinto, the national dish of fried rice and black beans is particularly served as a breakfast. Food staples include beef, chicken, fish and despite of the 1.000+ kilometers of coastline, seafood like shrimp or lobster, is expensive because Costa Rica exports most of its seafood.

Eating in Costa Rica doesn't present the health problems that plague the unwary traveler elsewhere in Central America, but you need to be aware that some of the pesticides used in Costa Rica are forbidden elsewhere. Something I should say is that you may eat where the locals eat, usually that means tasty and trustworthy food. Beware of black beans and chicharrones, which might prove to be too much for some foreign stomachs.

Costa Rica has no national drink, but very popular in the cultural tradition of drinks are Horchata (pictured right), a cinnamon flavored cornmeal drink, Chan, a slimy drink made of seeds, Linaza, which is popularly used to cure indigestion, and Fresco de Frutas, which is basically a fruit salad floating on a base of kola and water, delicious!! And, of course, guaro, the campesino’s nearly-tasteless yet potent alcoholic drink of choice. And coffee of course, Costa Rica’s grain of gold. Most of the best coffee is exported, so don't expect the best coffee everywhere you go. Coffee is traditionally served very strong and mixed with hot milk.

What are you most looking forward to eating and drinking when you go to Costa Rica?

Thanks to for their contribution to this post.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Let’s see how good your knowledge is of all things Costa Rica…

1. As in the Galapagos, several species are endemic to Cocos Island (found nowhere else in the world); one of them is the ________________.

2. Who was the first westerner in Costa Rica and is commonly credited (probably incorrectly) with dubbing the land “The Rich Coast”?

3. You can see the Costa Rican glass frog’s _________ beating through its abdomen.

4. Several thousand tough stabilizing roots up to 20 meters (66 feet) long wind through the loose sand from the base of coconut (Coco, Cocotero, Cocos nucifera) trees which are rarely toppled even by the strongest ________________.

5. ____________ in Northern Costa Rica has boiling mudpots, steam vents, and small geysers.

6. Costa Rica imports about half-a-million dollars worth of ___________ every year. Seventy-five percent from Mexico and the remainder from the U.S. and Europe.

7. ____________ are named after the color of the layer of fat on their meat, not the color of their shell.

8. Costa Rica has the cheapest, most convenient and reliable ______________ in Latin America

9. Several species of ___________ search miles from home to find the Bejuco de Pan (Dalechampia scandens) vines that produce a waterproof, moldable resin they use in nest construction.

10. Tarantulas (Matacaballos) can grow to over 10” (25 cm) and some can make a snakelike hiss by rubbing the hairs of their _________ together.

11. Each female leatherback will nest as many as 12 times a season, every ________ days or so (usually at night to avoid dehydration).”

12. Consistent winds across Lake ________ make it one of the premier windsurfing sites in the world.

13. Cebia or Kapok (Cebia petandra) trees are best known for producing __________ used in life preservers and furniture cushions, but their name comes from the Caribbean word for the canoes (cebia) that were carved from its long, straight, soft trunks.

14. The official term for a citizen of Costa Rica is ____________, but you will probably never hear it. Costa Ricans refer to themselves as Ticos and Ticas.

15. __________ peak in Costa Rica is home to the northernmost occurrence of the high altitude Paramo ecosystem

Expect the answers in a later post this week… is the suspense killing you??

We will thank our source in the next post… we don’t want to encourage cheating ☺

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Costa Rica: Know Before You Go!

Q- What is the difference between the rain forest and the cloud forest?
A- Mainly the altitude and the temperature. The rain forests are very hot and humid while the cloud forest are humid and moist. The species of flora and fauna are significantly different.

Q- Do I need an electric adapter for a hair drier?
A- That depends on the voltage in your home country. Outlets here are 110 V, with standard US two prong plugs (or three prong if grounded). Your hair blower, curling iron and all other appliances will work fine. Those of you from Europe will need the adapters, impossible to find easily in Costa Rica. Bring yours!

Q- If I decide to stay longer, can I get a visa while I am there?
A-When you enter Costa Rica, your passport will be stamped and that is your visa to be here. The length of time depends on your country of origin. Your visa CAN be renewed if you leave the country for 72 hours. This cannot be done forever, but 2-3 times is probably not a problem. Short trips to Panama, Nicaragua, or San Andres are cheap and available. When you return, your visa will be renewed automatically for 90 more days if you are from the USA. If you are not from the USA or Canada, check here as the rules are different for other countries.

Q-Is there and exit or departure tax in Costa Rica? If so, how much is it?
A- Departure tax is $26, can be paid in US Dollars, colones or with a Visa card. This must be paid at the point of exit. See Entry to Costa Rica.

Q- Are credit cards accepted in Costa Rica?
In the major tourist areas, yes. However, many locations do not accept credit cards, especially those great places where you actually see the artist creating something. Also, if ANYTHING is priced in dollars, you are VERY likely over paying! Carry some colones and use any you have left over to pay your Departure Tax.

Thank you to for their contribution to this post. What other questions do you have about Costa Rica? Did you find the above questions and answers useful?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Search for Montezuma!

In early 2009, Passport Health's good friend, Chas, took a fabulous trip to Costa Rica to escape the winter months in the northeast U.S. and explore the incredible adventures the world has to offer. He so KINDLY agreed to share the story of his adventure to Montezuma...

Costa Rica has become one of the top tourist destinations for the western world for good reason. Few countries boast as excellent a combination of pleasant weather, friendly indigenous (“Ticos”), and tourist attractions. I recently escaped the winter months in the northeast United States to explore Costa Rica. I wholeheartedly recommend viewing the active Arenal Volcano, hiking the rainforests of Corcovado National Park, and white-water rafting down the Pacuare River; however, some of the most fulfilling experiences in C.R. will be found in lesser known areas, such as Montezuma.

Montezuma is a tiny town sitting on the Pacific Ocean on the Nicoya Peninsula. It typically is overlooked as a must-see due to its remote nature. In fact, I actually had to motorboat over to Montezuma from Jaco, C.R. Montezuma is and will remain an intriguing stopover for the more adventurous traveler for the same reasons why it is not for everyone- there are no banks, post-offices, major hotels, and chain-restaurants (or chains of any kind). If you are traveling to embrace hostels (or tents, which line the forests adjacent to the pristine Montezuma beaches), hippies, and happy residents, Montezuma offers more than any other place in Central America.

After boating or bussing into Montezuma, the first thing to do is grab a room. Accommodations range from single rooms complete with an overhead fan for about $20 per night to renting out an abandoned school bus whose seats have been removed in favor of mattresses. Seriously. You can grab a mattress for about $5 a night and try and figure out how the owner of this “hostel” managed to convert the driver’s seat into a toilet. The bus had no vacancy during my visit, so I opted for Hostel Lucy, known for opening its doors to younger travelers for $10-12 a night.

Throw your backpack down in your room, bus, or tent and head down the only street in town to find the only information kiosk in town. Ask how to hike to Montezuma Falls and head out. A half-hour hike through the forest (watch out for monkeys!) will lead you to a series of three waterfalls. You might see some tourists jumping off the top two falls. My buddy, Django, and I braved the shorter of the two, which was about 25 feet high. Recommendation: hold onto your eye glasses- Django’s are currently residing at the bottom of the basin of the Montezuma Falls.

After your leap of faith, go relax. There is a string of beaches right past “downtown” Montezuma which host the bright blue Nicoya Golf. A steady rip-tide will prevent all but the most determined surfers from hitting the blue, so swimming is ideal. Want some privacy? The beaches stretch miles and miles down the coast. About an hour of sandy hiking will put you on your very own, personal beach.

Although this is far from a traditional party town, it’s definitely worth going out at night. This little town is one of the top places in the world to learn and exhibit your mastery of “poi.” Fire poi is basically dancing and doing tricks with elongated nunchucks lit on fire on both ends. It’s beautiful, exciting, and dangerous if you have no idea what you are doing (trust me)! Experienced performers will be having a fire-show every night in the town square. It’s easy to watch the show and make friends with your hostel-mates- I guarantee you they are hanging out and having an Imperial beer at the one bar in town.

Thanks for your awesome post on Costa Rica, Chas!

Costa Rica: Holiday Feature- El Tope Nacionalis

The Tope Nacionalis a Costa Rican tradition, and San Jose's parade of horses is the country's largest and most popular. With both horses and riders elaborately decorated, the parade moves along the Paseo Colon to Avenida.

An important event that inaugurates the Festejos Populares is the “Tope Nacional”. A Tope is a horse parade, which is a typical tradition in all local fiestas. The San Jose Tope is the most famous and largest in Costa Rica. Thousands of riders come from all over the country to show off their beautiful horses, riding skills, fancy steps, and specially designed cowboy outfits. It is widely known as the biggest people-watching event of the year.

The tradition began in colonial times as a horse race to commence the Fiestas de San Juan, a horse-racing and bullfighting event. It was customary for everyone to come out to see who the best jockeys and the fastest horses were.

The Tope is the National Day of the Horseman and, on December 26th, the Festejos Populares is inaugurated with this traditional event. Horse owners, farm workers, and farm owners come to the capital from all over the country to bring their best animals to the best horseman show of them all. Instead of racing, the horses are trained to take special steps, almost dancing for the spectators that line the streets. You will also see many of the typical “carretas”, hand-painted ox carts created by famous local craftsmen. The Tico riders dress to impress. The girls are all made up, wearing their flashy cowgirl outfits, and the men are right behind. The event is all about how good you look while riding your horse and how many fancy steps your horse can maneuver to impress the crowd.

Check out the dancing horses below

Monday, October 19, 2009

Costa Rica- Hotels and Hostels

Costa Rica attracts many travelers due to all that its vast climate and geography have to offer. Below are some great hotels and hostels in popular cities which are home to white sandy beaches, volcanoes and the rainforest. Let’s go!

Barcelo Tambor Beach Resort: This is an all-inclusive resort which includes a casino, fitness room, spa, tennis court and outdoor pool with swim-up bar. The resort can accommodate mini golfers, volleyball, basketball, surfing and horse riding on-site. Many other activities including golf can be accommodated by nearby facilities. The resort hosts 3 restaurants and received rave reviews by travelers for its location and excellent views.

Punta Leona: This is also an all-inclusive resort. It hosts private, white sand beaches, a tropical/rainforest environment, restaurants on-site and a luxury pool. Travelers appreciated the excellent staff service and cleanliness of the resort.

Adventure Park Hostel: This hostel goes beyond the norm offering horse riding, hiking trails/tours, ATV tours, a high ropes courses and 25 cables running through 11 waterfalls. It also includes pay per view TV, breakfast and a pool. There are restaurants on-site and a laundry facility. Prices range from $20/night to $50/night depending on the season. Traveling on a budget never looked so good!

La Fortuna/Arenal:
Tree House Hotel: A unique idea for a hotel in Costa Rica which incorporates fun and nature. This hotel is comprised of little houses/cabanas set in actual trees! The true meaning of a tree house, these bungalows are the perfect way to experience the rainforest and lush vegetation as it is located in the trees. Monkeys and the resident sloth have been known to pass by! Although there is no internet or kitchen, (what did you expect in a tree?) breakfast is included and is raved about by all reviewers as hummingbirds surround the breakfast area at arms length. Mark and Lucy are the owners and received many compliments by their guests. At an average of $95/night, why not live your childhood fantasies?

El Silencio del Campo: Located across from the Arenal Volcano, this reasonably priced hotel boasts excellent reviews. The rooms are detached cabanas which make it feel like a resort without all the touristy frills of being a resort. Bike rentals are offered as well as horse riding and hot springs on location. The friendly staff can also book tours for you!

Arenal Backpackers Resort: At $14/night, you can afford to travel on a budget! Travelers who stayed here gave it great reviews and especially appreciated the location, clean rooms and friendly/accommodating staff. There is a barbeque area if you want to cook for yourself or you can enjoy a meal at the on-site restaurant. Internet access and linens are included. This hostel also has a pool.

Montezuma (revenge on the side):
Ylang Ylang Beach Resort: Located on 20 acres of white sandy beaches surrounded by lush, tropical gardens, this resort is a mini oasis. Private baths and mini fridges are located in every room. There is a pool, restaurant and game room on-site. Zip lining is also offered by the hotel.

Nature Lodge Finca Los Caballos: The hotel restaurant serves Mediterranean cuisine while a private pool on-site is offered as a way to relax. There is a spa on-site as well as horse riding. Each room has a private bath and a mini fridge. The island of Tortuga is just off the coast, easy to get to, and snorkeling and hiking trips can be planned by the staff. One site described the resort’s location as: “…the hotel is located perched on a hill, somewhere between heaven and the sea…”

Las Palmeras Delicias: Owned by an English/Irish family, this hostel is comprised of little cabins among lush/tropical gardens with a private pool. Each room is equipped with hot water and private bathrooms. A kitchen facility is available to guests. At only $8/night you can enjoy a tropical, relaxing environment with just the necessities.

San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, might be another interesting city to visit as it is loaded with cultural activities. Costa Rica has almost anything you could hope for in a vacation: romance, adventure, volcanoes, rainforests, waterfalls, tree houses, beaches, islands and more. This might be one trip you won’t want to pass up. Bring a camera…

Did you have a tree house growing up? Was it in an actual tree? What are your thoughts regarding the Tree House hotel?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Costa Rica vs US soccer ends in tie

Nearly eighteen months of qualifying games for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa came to an end Wednesday night at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC for the United States and Costa Rica. After nearly scoring a goal on the stroke of 9 minutes in what would have been argued as divine intervention, the Americans went down 2-0 in the first half before staging a dramatic late comeback to draw the match 2-2.

"The freezing cold temperatures and rain didn't dampen the spirits of international soccer fans, " comments Passport Health's own National Sales Director, Guillermo Giraldo who was in attendance at that game. "The stadium was filled with cheer and excitement. It was a devastating blow to the Costa Ricans when the US scored in the final minutes of injury time diminishing their hopes of a world cup birth."

The tie that felt like a win simultaneously threatened, if not crushed, the dreams of one nation and answered the prayers of another. It forced Costa Rica to a 2-game playoff against Uruguay for a seat at the World Cup table and clinched the first appearance in 28 years for the same Honduran team they defeated on foreign soil just four days prior.

Going into the match, the circumstances for the two teams could hardly have been different. The US team, having already qualified for their sixth straight World Cup, would have had every excuse in the world to take their foot off the gas, and rest their regulars. The Costa Rican ‘Ticos’ on the other hand, just one point ahead of Honduras in the six-team standings in third place, knew that the Honduran opponent on the same night would not be as tough and that a win against the US would likely be required.

The 'Ticos' have a tough fight ahead of them. Do you think they can pull through or will Uruguay beat them out for the chance at World Cup glory in South Africa next year?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Costa Rica: What to Pack!

If you are planning to travel to Costa Rica, expect your luggage to be light! Costa Rica has a tropical climate which means it is warm and wet. The best time to travel there, as stated in previous postings, is during the high season which is between the months of December through April. Who wouldn’t want to get away when the weather in North America and the northern parts of Europe are freezing!

Grab your swim suit, hiking boots and jacket… and let’s go!

Costa Rica is a very interesting country is terms of climate and geography. While it has a tropical climate, rainforests and beaches, it has a high elevation causing it to get cold at night and sometimes during the day. It is recommended to bring a jacket for the colder weather at night and some long sleeves to protect against the bush and sunburn as this country is much closer to the equator than you might be used to!

Whether you decide to hang out on the beaches or explore the rainforest, be prepared for both. It is suggested to bring the following:

* Hiking shoes for exploring the rainforest and to protect your feet from the terrain/bush
* Flip flops for the beach
* Dressy shoes for night life and nice dinners
* Short sleeve tee-shirts, for when the weather is hot
* Shorts
* A long-sleeved shirt to protect against sunburn and bushwhacking
* A swimsuit for the beach
* Some long pants for exploration purposes
* Jacket; higher elevation makes night time cooler
* Backpack… good for storing essentials and extra clothes when exploring

Additional items to be packed include:

* Plenty of sunscreen (although rainy, it is still hot and sunny in the summer!)
* Hat (for protection from the sun)
* Sunglasses
* Comfortable hiking/walking shoes
* A water bottle with filter (staying hydrated is important on your trip)
* Universal plug (make sure your electronics are compatible)
* Insect repellents
* Hand sanitizer
* Traveler guides/ maps
* A camera

More importantly, packing summer-type clothing leaves extra room for souvenirs!!

Any little tips you can give our readers on what to pack that you found useful when you traveled to Costa Rica? Anything we missed? Help a traveler out!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Costa Rica: Wildlife

Costa Rica is one of the most bio-diverse regions in the world. The list of Costa Rica wildlife species found in this small country is extensive, thanks to its rich rainforest ecosystem and miles of beaches. Visitors wanting to see animals that they have never seen before will almost definitely accomplish that feat multiple times daily in this lush country.

Costa Rica is a dream location for people who love nature. Bird watchers have the chance to see over 800 species of birds including two species of macaws, over fifty species of hummingbirds, and a number of species of toucans. Those who like to keep their eyes out of the sky have plenty to see closer to the ground. Costa Rica animals include four species of monkeys, two types of sloth, and even jaguars and tapirs. For those who enjoy creepy-crawly bugs, amphibians, and reptiles, there are plenty of these too. Costa Rica is home to a large number of tree frogs, butterflies, lizards, sea turtles, and over 35,000 species of insects.

Due to the warm climate of Costa Rica, animals are mostly seen at dawn and dusk when the daytime temperature is at its coolest. Also, if staying outside of a large city, seeing exotic birds and animals becomes a natural occurrence, and sometimes an intimate up-close-and-personal one. For the most part, in areas where people are frequently present, animals in Costa Rica become accustomed to humans and are less skittish. This is most evident among the monkey population, particularly the Capuchin monkeys, who have made a habit out of stealing unattended food.

Sadly, there are several species of Costa Rica animals that are on the endangered species list. This include the leatherback sea turtles, the squirrel monkey, the jaguar, and both the great green and the scarlet macaw. The Costa Rican people and government are striving to save their wildlife.

What animal would you most like to see in Costa Rica?

Thanks to for the info for this post.

Costa Rica: Etiquette

The etiquette in Costa Rica is fairly easy to remember as the country is very laid back, warm and welcoming. In fact, it is said to be the most punctual of all Central American countries as well as the least physical country in terms of greeting one another compared to other Latin countries.

Embrace is not typically done in Costa Rica. Men shake hands with other men as a greeting and women pat each other on the arm or lightly kiss on the cheek as a greeting. The country is extremely warm and welcoming. Expect many people to wave hello and smile, but don’t expect a big hug.

The Costa Ricans are flexible with time; however, they tend to actually be the most punctual of all the Central American countries. It is acceptable to be late for social gatherings or a doctor appointment, however, it is considered rude to be a late for a business meeting. Due to the short midday break hours, everyone must be on time for business meetings and lunches.

Titles are important in this country and should be used if you know a person’s title. Titles are usually based on profession and degree, for example, Doctor or Professor for a teacher. If you do not know someone’s title or they do not have one, it is acceptable to use Mr., Mrs. and Miss.

Topics of conversation can actually range from good topics to bad topics. Topics of conversation that are usually bad topics involved religion and anything related to personal criticism. Good topics of conversation involve questions about children and family, history, art and politics.

Other things to keep in mind when traveling to Costa Rica:

  • Women drinking liquor is considered impolite.
  • Calla Lilies are associated with funerals.
  • Making a fist with the thumb sticking out in the middle is considered offensive.
  • The fashion is typical of fashion seen in the U.S. and Europe. Costa Ricans have a good, clean sense of fashion.

Overall, travelers have not generally experienced issues fitting in and following the Costa Rica etiquette.

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Costa Rica: 10 best places


First of all I want to give a HUGE shout out to Costa Rica for their awesome information! Thanks guys!

The ten best places to go in Costa Rica in no particular order

Corcovado National Park—One of the best places in the world to trek in the tropical rainforest, Corcovado has everything visitors to Costa Rica are looking for. The rise of small lodges means access is becoming easier for those who don't want to slog through the sucking mud with a pack on their back, but the interior will always pay dividends to those who travel under their own power.

Palo Verde National Park—is a relatively undiscovered jewel in the Costa Rican park system. The bird population, both native and migratory is spectacular. The trail system leaves something to be desired, but this certainly means fewer crowds, and there are a number of areas that can be explored by boat.

La Fortuna de Bagaces— Unlike its famous cousin to the east that it replaces on our list, there is essentially no tourist infrastructure in this sleepy hamlet between volcáns Miravalles and Rincón de la Vieja. There is easy access to beautiful swimming holes at the base of spectacular waterfalls, and incredible forests, the geysers and mud pots of Las Hornillas reminiscent of Yellowstone, abundant natural hotsprings, and a bull ring that still sees sabaneros meet their match in the corridas de toros.

Barra Honda Caverns—Not everyone is interested in spelunking, but those who are will appreciate the pristine condition of these caves. The small vertical entrances have protected these limestone caverns for millennia, first from discovery, then from entry by all but the most intrepid explorers.

Santa Rosa National Park—Daniel Janzen and his wife Winnie Hallwachs initiated a crusade over two decades ago that resulted in an incredible gift to the world. Santa Rosa National Park protects and provides a mechanism for restoration of perhaps the only significant tropical dry forest in the world that will survive our generation. The main campsites at the headquarters and on playa naranjo serve as jumping off points for extended explorations, La Casona is an important historical landmark, and witches rock marks the location of a surfer's paradise.

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca—Reggae provides the backbeat along the beaches and main street of this Caribbean village. Peppery fresh fish dishes, coconut curries, and fragrant spiced breads fill your plate. Sloths, monkeys, and birds abound in Cahuita National Park and Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge up and down the coast respectively.

Wilson Botanical Gardens—The gardens at Las Cruces Biological station are only one of the rewards awaiting travelers who make the effort to visit the southern most reaches of Costa Rica.

Caño Negro wildlife refuge—Nature cruises through these wetlands are quite popular now, but don't worry there are thousands of acres to explore. A boat trip here or in Tortuguero, or Damas estuary is certainly the easiest and maybe the best way to see a lot of wildlife on your visit to Costa Rica.

Cerro Chirripó—Quite possibly our favorite place. The strenuous climb through seven distinct ecosystems allows you to experience most of Costa Rica's inland natural history in a single day. There are a growing number of visitors, but nearly all of them stick to the main route to the refugio under the peak. If you want a true Costa Rican wilderness experience there's still thousands of virgin acres here.

Manuel Antonio National Park—We hear complaints nearly every day that Manuel Antonio has been ruined by development and overcrowding. While it has changed significantly in the three decades since it was established, it's still one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica. Crowded is a relative term, Manuel Antonio is twice the size of New York City's central park, but visitors are limited to 600 at a time. The development allows for easy access for those who might not otherwise have the opportunity to explore one of the last patches of tropical wet forest.

Monteverde—This private reserve provides the easiest access to the cloud forests, and an infrastructure of guides and resources to help you make the most of your visit. Like Manuel Antonio, it has gained tremendously in popularity, but has much less chance of being loved to death. Monteverde is much larger, the cool, wet, windy weather means shorter visits, and as a private reserve it has better funding than most of the National Parks. Despite the growth in tourism in the surrounding community, a few hundred yards off the main loop (el triangulo) you're unlikely to see anyone else on the trail.

What do you think? Is Costa Rica's beautiful landscape drawing you in yet?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Costa Rica: Stay Healthy on your trip!

Getting ready for any trip takes months and weeks of research, planning and packing. While preparing all the activities, transportation, documentation and securing loose ends while you’re are away, don’t forget to prepare your health for the visit too! It is important to make the most of your trip by participating in all pre-planned activities rather than experiencing Costa Rica from the hotel bathroom or a local medical center; so be safe, vaccinate!

Planning to stay healthy while you travel is the MOST important part of planning for your trip.

The best ways to ensure a safe and healthy trip are to be educated about the health risks in India and get vaccinated.

For travel to Costa Rica, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends the following vaccinations:
Hepatitis A and B
Varicella (Chicken Pox)
• PPD (Tuberculosis) Test

Please make sure you get properly vaccinated as there are many diseases throughout Costa Rica that can seriously affect your health.

Also, take precautions against drinking the water and make sure your food is thoroughly cooked. Being properly vaccinated before you go can only protect you to an extent, knowing the diseases and how to prevent them when you are there is another way to stay safe.

Most of these vaccinations are routine for citizens of the USA and you have more than likely been adequately vaccinated for some, but it is important to see a travel medicine specialist to be sure you are prepared with the proper vaccinations and information to stay healthy in Costa Rica.

Now that you know about all the diseases and viruses that have preventive vaccines, you are free to take other preventive measures for the rest of the "icky" things that can affect your trip.
  • Insect-Borne Diseases(Dengue Fever, Malaria): use appropriate repellents containing DEET, and prescribed Malaria medication.
  • Travelers' Diarrhea: use antibiotics and re hydration powders (diarrhea kit available at Passport Health)
  • Intestinal Infections: Swim only in properly chlorinated or salt water, wear shoes at all times (even on the beach), follow food and water precautions given by an expert.
  • Jet-Lag, Motion sickness, Altitude sickness: several different medications available
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis: Remain properly hydrated during flight, get up frequently to stretch your legs to maintain circulation, consider wearing pressure gradient Travel Socks
  • Emergency Medical Evacuation: Obtain appropriate Travel and Evacuation Insurance

Don't let the possibility of getting sick in Costa Rica deter you from going. The best way to ensure safety and good health is to know the risks and take the right precautions against them.

Thank you to the CDC and our Travel Medicine Specialists for their contribution to this post.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Costa Rica: Know when to go!

Even though Costa Rica is in the northern hemisphere, the names of the seasons are reversed and 'summer' starts late in November. This is not because of a large temperature difference but because it tends to be drier from December through April. Note—drier, not dry. If you visit the rainforest, you should plan on getting wet. It is the RAIN forest after all.

The high season in Costa Rica runs from December through April.

The main attraction of traveling in the high season is the weather. It is less likely that it will rain on you, and in some areas (notably Guanacaste) the wildlife is concentrated near shrinking water sources and easier to spot. Obviously, another motivation for North American and European travelers is escaping the snow and cold at home. Not only is Costa Rica warm, but travelers from the north will be rewarded with an extra few hours of sunshine every day—at this latitude the days are longer.

The main problem with traveling to Costa Rica during the northern hemisphere winter is that it is the high season. It is harder to get reservations, everything is relatively crowded and the prices are higher.

From Christmas until the end of the first week in January, and Easter week are double jeopardy periods with lots of international travelers, and many Ticos traveling (the beaches are especially crowded).

Which would you prefer, the Costa Rican beaches or the rainforest?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Country of the Month: Costa Rica!!

Congratulations to Costa Rica for winning the vote for this month's feature. I cant think of a better country to explore this month especially when the fall season is coming into full swing up north, days are getting shorter and sleeves are getting longer. I'd much rather think tropical!

Costa Rica is located in Central America bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the east and south, the Pacific Ocean to the west and south and the Caribbean Sea to the east.

Costa Rica is the ideal tropical paradise for your vacation. Tourists can enjoy the pristine beaches and see whales and dolphins play. For nature lovers there is a great variety of exotic wildlife and tropical plants. Butterflies and orchids, crocodiles and sharks, turtles and toucans are everywhere. The rain forest covering the mountains are a paradise for eco tourism.

Life is good in Costa Rica, a friendly, democratic and peaceful country.

For action vacation you can surf, hike, do rafting, canopying, diving, deepwater fishing and snorkeling. You can go with a low budget or seek the more exclusive resorts.

For relaxation there are beautiful unique golf courses and luxury spas. The hotels have all the modern comforts in the most private and secluded environments.

Costa Rica has it all.

What are your expectations about what you will experience in Costa Rica?