South Central

South of San Jose and the Central Highlands one will find the South Central Region of Costa Rica. When visitors think of Costa Rica, the country has long had a reputation among travelers as a paradise. Its natural beauty includes tropical beaches fronting on two oceans, rainforests, volcanoes, and even alpine plateau. Adventurers will find a broad range of satisfying activities and treks, sun worshipers will encounter a climate second to none in the hemisphere, and naturalists will have the opportunity to investigate thousands of unique species of flora and fauna.

La Amistad International Park , Costa RicaResearch is invaluable, especially in targeting the best season for enjoying the right activity, and also with an eye to value. Costa Rica is not as inexpensive as its neighbors, especially in the “dry” season from November to April, and clever planning is recommended in order to avoid overpaying for accommodations. Both transportation and health are issues deserving serious attention. Certain regions are prone to flooding, for instance, and roads may not be as reliable as expected for some itineraries. Vaccinations for tropical travel are also an issue that foreigners will need to confront early on.

Most travelers will fly into San Jose, and since all roads in the country radiate out from the capital it is likely that a short stay there is inevitable. A package may eliminate the need for further inquiry, but if you are going it alone this will be a useful period to collect guidance for all your final destination goals.

Our focus is on the South Central Region, dominated by La Amistad International Park and the Talamanca Range, capped to the west by the Chirippo Massif at the apex of the Continental Divide. Both can be reached by some of the best roads in the country, and most destinations are within a few hours’ drive or bus trip south from the capital. Both, if relatively close to centers of population, are more noted for ecotourism than for traditional luxury.

The first concern for travel here is altitude; most are surprised by how cold it can get, especially along the Cordillera, with many peaks well over 3000 meters. Warm clothing and protection against extremes of moisture and wind are definitely necessary. And though only a few volcanoes are active, it pays to keep abreast of current conditions.

Amistad hosts a number of stunning ecosystems, including the famous alpine Cloud Forests. The name is also literal, as these old growth oaks to the Caribbean and Pacific sides of the ridge are frequently shrouded in heavy mists. Hiking is recommended for the hardy, whether with a group or solo. Be aware that ranger stations are only found to the Pacific side. Other sights include geothermal vents, geysers, and pools, volcanoes in eruption, coffee plantations at slightly lower altitude, and some of the best tropical and subalpine bird watching in the world.

Direct encounters are the theme, and the ultimate among them is the tallest peak in the country. Cerro Chirippo stands at 3820 m (12,533 feet!), and an adventurous few among Costa Rica’s 1.5 million visitors do attempt a summit.

This and more awaits in South Central Costa Rica.

Share Your Costa Rica Adventure