When the plane first touches down at the Liberia International Airport in Costa Rica, it’s hard not to notice the surrounding wildlife and intense landscape that is very much part of the way of life there.< p>Vibrant vegetation is everywhere. So are the iguanas.
On a recent trip to the Guanacaste Province, located in the northwestern part of the country, this reporter was able to meet with other travelers from the United States, particularly from Texas, New York, California, and Pennsylvania.
The province is named for the guanacaste tree, also known as the ear pod tree, which is the national tree of Costa Rica.
During an eight-day stay with Costa Rican Monkey Tours, we were treated to Zip Lining through tropical forests, horseback riding, and awe-inspiring views from the Sky Tram gondolas.
Even as the tourist group ascended into Monteverde’s Cloud Forest Reserve on the gondolas, it was clear that there was so much more of the Central American country to experience.
The Cloud Forest Reserve alone is home to more than 2,000 plant species and hundreds of types of birds, mammals and other forms of animal life. In other words, strong insect repellant is a necessity.
One of the tour guides, Hector, explained that is was the beginning of Costa Rica’s rain season, meaning we could expect intermittent heavy showers. The guided tours took us to resorts around the province including El Establo, Hacienda Guachipelin and Hotel Villas Playa Samara.
We stopped in many small towns and spoke to those who lived there about their culture, haggled over souvenir prices and asked for directions.
As we drove through what seemed like endless rainforest, our guide pointed out the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano, which is active and venting steam regularly. As of 2012, Costa Rica produces more than 90 percent of its electricity through renewable sources including using Rincón de la Vieja Volcano’s steam to power the surrounding cities.
Along the way, we tried some of the best food Costa Rica has to offer. Particularly, one traditional meal is called casado, with rice and beans served side by side with a choice of meat, a fried plantain, and a salad to round it off.
Most dishes are served with a healthy portion of fresh fruits and vegetables. The food is not spicy, yet packed with flavor.
Overall, Costa Rica has a lot to offer, including adventure activities as well as opportunities to explore wildlife, the rainforest and communities. People come for the sights and want to stay for the culture.