Some of the best outdoor adventure travel vacations can be found in Costa Rica. For those who prefer off-the-beaten-path ecotourism, nothing beats a hike up Cerro Chirripo, a zip-line across the cloud forest canopy or a dugout ride vista of the famed sea turtles of Tortuguero. You can arrange formal tours for all of these outings, but with a little planning you can also manage them quite well on your own.
Turtles in Tortuguero
Along Costa Rica's Caribbean coast lies Parque Nacional Tortuguero. This park is the breeding ground of the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas). In fact, six of the world's eight species of sea turtles nest in Tortuguero, and four lay eggs along this coastal park. The park's headquarters is Cuatro Esquinas (2709 8086) and is located north of Tortuguero village. Jalova Station at the park's south entrance has modest lodging available. There are hiking trails, boating by dugout or canoe, conservation exhibits as well as tour guides to help you get the most out of your adventure vacation.
In the northwestern region of the country, the cloud forests of Monteverde are something every adventure traveler should see. Touring the canopy means climbing into a harness and clipping onto a line. It also means getting a good tour package. For this reason, Lonely Planet recommends talking both to the folks at Penson Santa Elena (2645 5051) and to the top five tour operators:
Adventura (2645 6388; monteverdeadventure.com)
Extremo Canopy (2645 6058; monteverdeextremo.com)
Original Canopy Tour (2645 6950; canopytour.com)
Selvatura (2645 5929; selvatura.com)
SkyTrek (2645 5796; skywalk.co.cr)
Climbing Cerro Chirripo
Southern Costa Rica boasts the country's highest peak, Cerro Chirripo. In fact, Parque Nacional Chirripo is one of Costa Rica's least traveled, most exclusive and best-kept secret of adventure vacations. You can chose to go with a tour group such as Costa Rica Trekking Adventures (2771 4582; chirripo.com) or you must contact the Chirripo Ranger Station (2200 5348) once you are actually in Costa Rica. There are limitations to the amount of hikers permitted per day, the available overnight space at the summit hostel and start times for beginning your climb.