Tarzan meets sloth in Monteverde, Costa Rica
Set high in the hills in central Costa Rica, up an unsealed road, is nature’s paradise, Monteverde and Santa Elena. Surrounded by lush green forest, these two national parks have stunning old growth forest to hike through, canopy bridges and zip lines to keep visitors entertained for days.
A highlight is the night walk where fireflies light up the pitch black forest and the super slow sloths can be spotted in the trees. Snakes, tarantulas and hummingbirds can also be found.
Santa Elena offers an array of backpacker accommodation along with chocolate tours, a butterfly farm and tours of the original pre-tourism employer, the cheese factory.
Access to San Luis Waterfall has been closed due to safety concerns.
As with everything in Costa Rica be prepared to open your wallet, wide.
Night tours: US$20-22
Entrance to nature reserves: US$20-35
Canopy tours: From US$30
Zip lining: US$45
Hostel: Pension Santa Elena US$12, includes breakfast, tea, coffee and towel. The staff are super helpful and will arrange all your tours. Beware of the very shitty cat (literally) – keep your bedroom door shut.
A three hour journey across Lake Arenal is La Fortuna and Volcán Arenal National Park. The star attraction was actively spewing ash and gas until 2010 but has been quiet since then. Now people come for the hiking, hot springs and natural mud pools. It is hard to get anywhere without a taxi or tour so it can be expensive.
Getting there: Jeep-boat-jeep transfers between Monteverde and La Fortuna take you across Laguna de Arenal in just just three hours. It is significantly shorter than the seven hour, but cheaper, bus journey. US$25