The Panamerican Highway starting about 15 miles south of San José rises over the Cerro de la Muerte, or Mountain of Death, so named about a century ago when settlers migrating to the rich lowlands beyond often perished in cold, windy rains near the 10,000 foot peak. Today a modern highway runs through the area, and it is now known for its outstanding scenery and for excellent high elevation bird watching. Most notable is that this region is very likely the best place in the world for observing resplendent quetzals-birds so spectacularly beautiful they were considered divine entities by the ancient Aztecs and Mayans. Many comfortable lodges are now located here for visitors to best enjoy the colorful avifauna and cool mountain scenery.

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Areas

Monteverde

The Monteverde Cloud Forest in the Tilaran Mountains of northwest Costa Rica is one of the world’s premiere destinations for naturalists. A cloud forest is an especially beautiful and rare type of rain forest created by frequent mists from low-lying clouds. This cool and moist environment is characterized by massive trees covered by thick “carpets” of small plants. Much of the resident wildlife is endemic to these habitats. In addition to forest hikes, visitors can enjoy many other area attractions including horseback riding; dining in numerous restaurants; live frog and butterfly exhibits; bird watching; crafts and gift shopping; “zip line” tours and bridge walks in forest canopies; a visit to a native orchid garden and more.

Areas

Sarapiquí & Caribbean Lowlands

Also known as Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, it is only a 1.5 hour drive north of San Jose. One route takes you past the dramatically forested mountains of Braulio Carrilo National Park, the other past Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfalls. Lowland offers exceptional wild and birdlife. World famous La Selva Biological Station is located here. Monkeys, parrots, toucans, iguanas, caiman, sloths, poison dart frogs and basilisk lizards are regular rainforest residents.. The Sarapiquí River is great for Class III white water rafting upriver and wildlife boat cruises downriver.

Areas

San José

The city of San José is the national capital and economic center of Costa Rica. It is currently undergoing a renaissance with pedestrian streets and modern high rise buildings. Yet it still retains much of its past multicultural heritage in restored elegant old buildings, historic statues and parks. Its many international restaurants offer excellent cuisine, and its theaters host numerous concerts and performances. Nightlife abounds in clubs with dancing to salsa, merengue, or rock music! San José has several public museums including The National Museum, Gold Museum and Jade Museum. All have excellent exhibits and the latter two feature artworks by prehistoric indigenous people.