At only 19,370 square miles, Costa Rica only occupies a third of a percent of the total landmass of the planet. But, within that third of a percent, Costa Rica has some of the most stunning natural features in its twelve climactic zones which feature coastline on both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, tropical rainforests, deciduous forests and cloud forests. The most amazing statistic about Costa Rica’s area, however, is that within that third of a percent of the earth’s total landmass is four percent of the total species of the planet. If all of this wasn’t impressive enough, hundreds of these species in Costa Rica are endemic to the region – meaning they exist nowhere else on the planet. While there are a huge number of ways to experience the diversity of Costa Rica if you travel there, one of the best ways in my book is to hike it, because over twenty-seven percent (27%) of the country is protected in National Parks. Assuming you have the time, starting in San Jose, one can traverse a hiker’s loop around the country, starting on the Atlantic Coast, and ending on the Pacific Coast before returning back to the capital. If you don’t have the time to do the whole loop listed herein, this list also serves as a great starting place for whatever area you are visiting, or could provide you with ideas on where you want to go.
While all of Costa Rica is stunning, one of the more popular regions in the country is the Arenal/La Fortuna Region. With a nearby lake, a national park, and many adventure opportunities the area truly has something for just about every adventure traveler. Without a question, however, the high point of the area is Arenal Volcano, both literally and figuratively. Although the volcano has not been active since 2010, and climbers and hikers are not allowed on its slopes, it is a must-see location in the area. One of the best locations with unobstructed views of the volcano is also one of the area’s historic sites, the trails at Arenal 1968.
Arenal Volcano National Park in Costa Rica contains a number of fantastic hikes for tourists, both in, and around the park. While Arenal Volcano cannot be climbed, it remains a destination for regular tourists and bird-watchers alike to visit. One of the hardest hikes in the region, Cerro Chato, allows visitors to climb a nearby inactive volcano with a crater lake. Even though Cerro Chato is a great hike, views of Arenal Volcano are obscured from it, due to the extensive coverage from primary tropical forest in the region. In contrast, the hike to the Danta Waterfall provides great views of the tropical forest, the volcano, a waterfall, Arenal Volcano, allows for wildlife viewing, and is accessible for most hikers.
Costa Rica is a country with lush jungles, pristine rivers, lakes, and waterfalls, and stunning coastlines. It is also a land with tall, cloud capped mountains. One of the most well-known mountainous regions of Costa Rica is the Arenal region. The primary peak in this region is the Arenal Volcano (Elevation 5,358 feet) which, until 2010, was also Costa Rica’s most active volcano. While the volcano is currently dormant, and climbers are not allowed on the volcano, there is a fantastic climb directly next to it, which is the Cerro Chato hike.