Costa Rica
January / February 2020
Capital

San José

Area

51,100 km²
(1.2x the Netherlands)

Time

UTC -6

Language

Spanish, English, Creole

Highest point

Cerro Chirripó - 3,819 m

Flag

The flag is based on an 1848 design and was first used in 1906. The flag resembles the flag of Thailand but the blue and red stripes are reversed. Blue represents the sky, opportunities, idealism and persistence. White represents peace, wisdom and happiness. Red represents the blood wasted by martyrs during the defense of the country and the warmth and generosity of the people.


Climate

Tropical with the rainy season from May to November. The table below shows the average temperature.


San José

Temp. (°C) Jan Apr Jul Okt
max 24 27 26 26
min 14 16 16 15

Cahuita

Temp. (°C) Jan Apr Jul Okt
max 29 30 29 30
min 20 21 22 21
Currency

The Colón was introduced in 1896 and replaced the Costa Rican Peso.


Route


Highlights

The village of Cahuita is located on the Caribbean coast. The beach north of the village has black sand. South, starting at the edge of the village is the Parque Nacional Cahuita with a white sand beach. It only takes a small fee to stay there all day, spent on swimming, snorkling or spotting animals along the park's only path. You can cover a distance of 7.2 km. The path parallels the coast. The park encompasses an area of 23,290 Ha sea and 1,102 Ha land.


When the Parque Nacional Monteverde was founded in 1972, it encompassed 328 Ha. Today it is 14,200 Ha. It is located at an altitude of 1440 meters. It was founded by 44 quakers from Alabama. In 1951 they refused military service and decided to settle in Costa Rica. 545 butterfly species are found here and the largest number of orchid species in the world, 500. Visit the selvatura park where you can walk between the treetops, visit a butterfly garden and a hummingbird garden (lots of hummingbirds). More adventurous is the zipline with 12 stages from tree to tree. The last zipline is 1 km long.

The Parque Nacional Corcovado is located on the Osa Peninsula and was founded in 1975 and consists of 42,560 ha of land and 3,354 ha of sea. It is the largest park in Costa Rica and is classified, in terms of biodiversity, by National Geographic as the most intense biological park in the world. The chance of spotting mammals such as the tapir is higher here than in other parks.



Cartago was founded in 1563 by the Spaniard Juan Vasquez de Coronado. Due to many floods the city was nicknamed 'mud city' and in 1572 the population was transferred to San José. Two years later, the population was moved back to its current location. The Basilica de Nuestra Señora de los Angeles was built in 1639 and current modifications date back to 1939. The style is a mix between colonial and Byzantine. The basilica is known for 'La Negrita', the black madonna. The legend, dating back to 1536, is about a girl who searches for firewood and a finds a statue of the black Madonna on a stone. She takes it home. When she wakes up the next day it is gone. She went back to the stone and finds the statue again. Legend has it that this happened three times. A sanctuary was build at that location. In 1824, La Negrita became the patron saint of Costa Rica.

La Fortuna, 'the wealth', is a reference to the fertile soil around the Arenal volcano. The Arenal is the youngest and most active (strato) volcano in Costa Rica. It is 1,633 meters high and the last eruption was in 2006. The smaller volcano next to it is the Cerro Chato. La Fortuna was founded in 1930 and was originally called 'El Burio'. In the area lies the 70 meter high waterfall La Catarata de la Fortuna. You have to pay an entrance fee to visit it. In the Parque Nacional Volcan Arenal you have a perfect view of the volcano from the hill with the cafeteria, but the cone is not always visible. In 1968 three craters formed on the western slope. 87 people were killed and three villages were destroyed. There is a path over the lava flow with beautiful views. The volcano has been inactive since 2010. The Laguna de Arenal is an artificial lake of 30 by 5 km. It is the largest lake in Costa Rica and supplies the region with electricity.

Parque Nacional Rincón de La Vieja is a volcanic massif with nine craters. Highest point is the Santa Maria volcano with 1,916 meters. Most recent eruption of the Rincón de la Vieja was in 2017. There are several walks in the park. The Las Pailas trail of 3 km is the easiest route and passes bubbling mud pools and fumaroles. The toughest hike is 15 km, the Sendero Rincón de la Vieja which leads to the crater of the volcano.

The Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio was founded in 1972. With 683 Ha it is one of the smallest parks of Costa Rica and the most popular. It attracts many visitors who mainly come for the beaches. The paths to the main beaches are therefore very busy. The paths to the remote parts and the viewpoints attract less public.