When you hear "Costa Rica", most of you will think of a beautiful, tropical country with fantastic beaches, a lot of sun and an immense amount of varied wildlife. After having travelled through Costa Rica for over a year, exploring every corner of its tiny 50'000 km2, I can assure you that its even more than just that:

Rugged highlands and active volcanic mountain chains separate the Costa Rica's Pacific and Atlantic coast from North-West to South-East, ranging from approximately 1,000 to almost 4000 meters above the sea level (3,000 to over 12'000 feet) with its culminating peak of Cerro Chirripo at 3819m/12'500ft above the sea. The volcanic Guanacaste-, Tilaran- and Central Mountain Range as well as the rocky Talamanca Mountain Range extend the entire length of the country creating a great diversity of habitats with its different climatic specifications. You will find everything form mangroves and beaches over tropical rain- and dry-forest to montane cloud forests and finally, above 3000m/9000ft, the bare and cold but just as interesting Paramo.

Several active volcanoes like the Arenal - one of the world's most active Volcanos -, Irazu, Poas, Rincon de la Vieja and Turrialba - with its recent eruptions - give Costa Rica a mythic and menacing attraction which is hard to resist and of which we are regularly reminded when short and mostly harmless earthquakes make this paradise shiver!

Costa Rica's long, accidented Pacific coast with its peninsulas, gulfs, bays and spread out islands stands in contrast to the alomost straight and only 200km/140miles long Atlantic coast. Numerous rivers and streams flow down the mountains on both, the atlantic and the pacific slope bringing life to every part of the country.

With such diversity, tourists from all around the world have been attracted only in recent years by a great pallette of world class outdoor activities such as simple sun-bathing on a gorgeous beach to surfing, river-rafting, sports-fishing, hiking, wildlife-watching, canyoning, canopying and last but not least: Scuba Diving which is most popular in the province of Guanacaste on the North-Pacific coast of Costa Rica.

Over the decades, Costa Rica has succesfully and deservedly maintained an image as a haven of ecological beauty. Travellers have been attracted to its numerous national parks and biological reserves - covering almost 1/3 of Costa Rica's surface - where astonishing numbers of birds, reptiles, mammals and plants flourish and give Costa Rica the most dense biodiversity around the world!



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