A visit to Costa Rica is an immersive journey into nature’s vibrant palette. With dense orchid-clad jungles, playful monkeys, vivid butterflies, leisurely sloths, and crocodiles concealed within mangroves, this country flaunts its diverse wildlife unapologetically. Famous for its stunning biodiversity and massive national parks, Costa Rica is a haven for eco-enthusiasts. Be it a serene hike up into a cloud forest’s hazy mists, whizzing through verdant canopies on a zipline, surfing on the rough waves of pristine Pacific beaches, or a relaxing dip in geothermal springs, this place has it all.
No matter your interests, Costa Rica has a slice of paradise tailored for every kind of explorer. Yet with such an array of experiences, consulting an expert is a wise choice. Meet Erick Wiessel, an experienced guide who started his tourism career assisting his father guide biologists around their Guanacaste ranch. He is now the force behind No Limit Adventures, a company crafting nature-centric experiences across Costa Rica. Here are Erick’s insights on the country’s incredible wildlife.
Erick founded No Limit Adventures with the objective of creating transformative experiences for nature enthusiasts.
PHOTO BY ARTURO HERRERA, NO LIMIT ADVENTURES
What is a Costa Rican visit like?
Costa Rica offers an exceptional combination of luxury and adventure. Its breathtaking natural ecosystems and rich biodiversity create the perfect escape from the mundane. The country is home to six different forest types—tropical, cloud, tropical dry, mangrove, lowland rainforest, and riparian—six species of large cats, over 933 bird species, more than 6,700 marine species, and countless waterfalls!
Not only do we offer lush greenery, but also warm locals. Costa Ricans are known for their happiness, humility, and hospitality. We may be a small country, but there’s an enormous amount to explore; you should plan at least a week to experience some of the best activities. We suggest reaching out to a specialist before your visit—it’s not the simplest country to navigate, and a bit of guidance goes a long way.
What adventures are ideal for first-time visitors and why?
Costa Rica’s 29 national parks provide abundant hiking opportunities, an ideal way to venture off the beaten track. Arenal Volcano National Park, located in northwestern Costa Rica, is particularly noteworthy for its numerous trails, including one featuring the Arenal Hanging Bridges and another leading to La Fortuna Waterfall’s peak. Activities such as mountain biking around Lake Arenal, standup paddleboarding, and kayaking offer additional excitement.
For an even more secluded hiking experience, head to the remote Osa Peninsula on the South Pacific coast, home to Costa Rica’s largest and most biodiverse park, Corcovado National Park. Here, guided hikes weave through the park’s former gold mining villages, offering glimpses of rural Tico life and enormous pre-Columbian stone spheres. To marvel at spectacular waterfalls, visit Bajos del Toro in the Alajuela Province or Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean coast.
What multi-day hikes would you suggest?
For avid hikers, Cerro Chirripó, Costa Rica’s highest peak, is a must-visit. Although it can be conquered in a day, a two- or three-day journey offers a richer experience. El Camino de Costa Rica, a captivating route comprising rural roads and challenging forest trails that spans the country, is another increasingly popular 15-day trek that’s simply stunning!
Left: The Blue Morpho Butterfly is one of the most easily recognizable butterflies in Costa Rica.
Right: While sloths are abundant throughout
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Costa Rica Travel Guide
What unique experiences does Costa Rica offer for travellers?
Costa Rica offers immersive nature experiences, ranging from serene hikes in cloud forests to surfing on Pacific beaches, and from ziplining through verdant canopies to relaxing in geothermal springs. This biodiversity-rich country is known for its spectacular national parks and a variety of wildlife such as monkeys, sloths, butterflies, and crocodiles.
Who is Erick Wiessel?
Erick Wiessel is an expert tour guide who started his tourism career assisting his father guide biologists around their family’s ranch in Guanacaste. He now runs No Limit Adventures, a company that designs nature-filled experiences across Costa Rica.
What can visitors expect from Costa Rica’s natural habitats?
Costa Rica is home to six different kinds of forests and a rich biodiversity that includes six species of large cats, over 933 bird species, more than 6,700 marine species, and numerous waterfalls. It’s a perfect place to immerse oneself in nature and escape from everyday life.
What activities are recommended for first-time visitors to Costa Rica?
For first-time visitors, hiking in one of the 29 national parks like the Arenal Volcano National Park is highly recommended. Other activities include mountain biking, standup paddleboarding, kayaking, and exploring the remote Osa Peninsula.
What multi-day hikes are suggested for serious hikers in Costa Rica?
Cerro Chirripó, the tallest mountain in Costa Rica, is recommended for a two- or three-day hiking adventure. Another popular choice is El Camino de Costa Rica, a route that spans the whole country and takes 15 days to complete.
What wildlife can travellers expect to see in Costa Rica?
Travellers can expect to see a variety of interesting animals like tapirs, armadillos, anteaters, peccaries, frogs, boa imperators, and several monkey species. With a naturalist guide, one could also spot elusive big cats, including ocelots, pumas, and jaguars.
What are some family-friendly activities in Costa Rica?
Waterfall abseiling, particularly in Arenal Volcano National Park and the Monteverde Cloud Forest, is a great adventure for the entire family. Whitewater rafting in the Pacuare River and surfing in various beaches are also recommended for family fun.
What should divers know about scuba diving in Costa Rica?
Costa Rica, bordered by the Atlantic and the Pacific, offers numerous diving spots. Depending on the time of year, divers can spot various marine life, including whales, manta rays, bull sharks, eels, turtles, and huge schools of fish.
When is the best time to visit Costa Rica?
Costa Rica can be visited year-round. However, the warmest and driest months are from January to March, making it the peak tourist season. The country’s green season, from May to November, is also a good time to visit when the national parks are quieter.
What advice does Erick Wiessel offer to travellers visiting Costa Rica?
Erick advises travellers to pack light, comfortable, breathable clothing for hiking and learn some basic Spanish phrases. He also encourages visitors to try local cuisine and visit locations that protect the natural environment. His ultimate advice is to come with an open mind and explore less travelled paths with a naturalist guide.