5 Must See Forest Reserves for Hikers in Costa Rica
Costa Rica features a lushly forested landscape that begs to be explored and draws in hikers and nature lovers from around the world. Much of the country’s forested area is preserved in nature reserves or national parks. If you’re looking to hike your way through some of the world’s most beautiful and biodiverse flora and fauna and see some of Central America’s most iconic wildlife, these national parks are your best bet.
Rincon de la Vieja National Park
Rincon de la Vieja is the site of three volcanoes – one of which is active today. This unique park traverses montane and dwarf cloud forests, and offers a wealth of hiking opportunities. Visitors can trek up to the upper craters or to several waterfalls, whether alone or on guided tours. The active volcano has created a unique landscape, which features bubbling hot springs, geysers, fumaroles and mud pots. Sharp-sighted onlookers may catch a glimpse of a kinkajou, tapir, sloth or spider monkey in the forests.
Arenal National Park
This park features two volcanoes, one of which Is active, and one of which has been dormant for 3500 years. The inactive volcano’s crest has collapsed, creating a beautiful natural lagoon. While the volcanos dominate the skyline and certainly hold a great deal of intrigue, the park features. a splendidly beautiful mixture of transitional forests, rainforests, and open savannas, all of which can be accessed by the main hiking trail. This is a perfect park for bird lovers – most of the country’s 850 bird species live here.
Corcovado National Park
Located on Costa Rica’s southern peninsula, this is Costa Rica’s largest, most beautiful and most biodiverse park. Corcovado is one of the world’s largest remaining continuous swaths of virgin rainforest, and it is ideal for those who dream of a trek through an unspoiled rainforest paradise. The park is remote and dense, with no paved roads, but it is worth the journey for the intrepid and well-prepared traveler. It is also a fantastic place for spotting wildlife. Hiking trails wind across the park, camping facilities are available for adventurers who would like to extend their stay.
Poás National Park
Poás National Park is home to the Poás Volcano, another of Costa Rica’s famed active volcanoes. Those who are looking to see some dramatic action won’t be disappointed; the volcano shoots up fumaroles and hot geysers almost constantly. While Poás is impressive, the dense cloud forests that surround it are spectacular. Gentle, paved hiking trails make it easy to take in the stunning and lush landscape, even for those in wheelchairs.
Carara National Park
Conveniently located just off the highway near the beach town of Jacó, Carara is the perfect park for those looking to take a leisurely or easy stroll through Costa Rica’s forested landscape. The park is diverse, with trails traversing lush rainforests, transitional forests and mangrove swamps. There’s even a trail that’s wheelchair-accessible.