How to Have a Unique Experience in Costa Rica
By now, everyone knows that Costa Rica’s ecosystems are incomparable, and the reason visitors continue to flock to this Central American gem. With over 20 protected areas, and 6% of the Earth’s diverse wildlife, Costa Rica is a pristine location for any nature lover. Hiking, bird watching, paddle boarding, and kayaking are some of the more common outdoor adventures for travelers. More thrilling options might include ziplining, ATV riding, waterfall rappelling, or rafting. But what can you do to make your Costa Rican adventure truly unique? Read below for tips on how to have an unforgettable adventure in Costa Rica.
Volunteering abroad has gained in popularity over the years, and with good reason. Those who visit Costa Rica to embrace the pura vida feel of this beautiful land are often exposed to the lush jungles, exotic beaches, majestic waterfalls, and towering volcanoes. However, the underdeveloped neighborhoods and local communities which are in need of support are often overlooked.
Most volunteer projects in Costa Rica take place in the capital city of San Jose, and with good reason. The capital city houses a majority of the population, and areas vary in terms of socio-economic status, education, and funding. As a volunteer, you may be placed on a construction project which helps to develop the local communities. Construction volunteers help to build or renovate classrooms and schools, healthcare facilities, orphanages, community centers, and homes. These projects are often privately funded, and therefore a volunteer contributes greatly to the development of these communities.
Other volunteer projects one might join are medical campaigns that help to serve hundreds of patients in areas with little to no access to a healthcare facility, working with kids which places volunteers in an understaffed daycare center or after school program to help care for children, or a teaching English project which works with adults and children in the local communities who are interested in advancing their language skills for professional and academic purposes.
Save Sea Turtles
Six of seven sea turtles nest on the beautiful beaches of Costa Rica, making it the perfect location to participate in a sea turtle conservation program. With Costa Rica being a world leader in ecological conservation and preservation, it is very easy to find a conservation project on either the Pacific or Caribbean coast. Projects are often managed by local biologists and researchers year-round. Volunteers can expect to build and maintain hatcheries, relocate eggs for safety and protection from poachers, maintain accurate data and records of eggs and turtles, and participate in nightly beach patrols.
A sea turtle conservation program is a unique experience which allows you to live on-site among other volunteers. You will have direct access to experts who can answer any questions you have about the status of the sea turtles or any previous and ongoing research. You will also have consistent interaction with the locals, whether educating them about the dangers of hunting eggs, or collaborating with them on conservation efforts.
Adopt a Sloth
Costa Rica is known for its sloth population, and its efforts for providing these unique creatures safety and protection. The Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica helps to rescue and care for sloths which are in danger or injured. After the successful rehabilitation of the sloths, the center works to re-release them into the wild, while focusing on the protection and conservation of the Costa Rican rain forest–the sloth’s home.
The Sloth Sanctuary allows you to “adopt” a rescued sloth. Your donation will go to the nutrition, wellness, and research needed to continue successfully running the program. You will go home with a personalized adoption certificate, and memorabilia from the sanctuary to remember your experience with the smiliest animals on the planet.
Tour Territorio de Zaguates
Also known as “land of the strays”, Territorio de Zaguates helps to care for the growing stray dog population in Costa Rica. With over one million strays roaming the country, this one-of-a-kind dog shelter is helping to care for as many of them as possible. Today, the shelter is home to hundreds of ambiguously mixed-breeds in the mountains of Costa Rica.
Veterinarians working at the shelter help to determine the unique mix of each dog, and proudly produces breed titles as specifically as possible, with names like the “Furry Pinscher Spaniel” and the “Freckled Terrierhuahua.” The unique titles brought to each four-legged friend guarantees that these breeds can only be found in Costa Rica. The shelter encourages the adoption of these special dogs, but if not, they can always call the Territorio home.
The attention Territorio de Zaguates received allowed the center to open tours to the public, so visitors can spend time frolicking with the hundreds of pups on the beautiful mountainous fields. Visiting a dog shelter as unique as this is a once in a lifetime experience you can only get in Costa Rica.
Visit Genius River Bridge
Cocos Island is a designated National Park off the coast of Costa Rica. The island does not allow inhabitants other than the Costa Rican park rangers who routinely guard the grounds. The surrounding waters are filled with schools of fish, and plenty of sharks right behind them. Unfortunately, behind the sharks come poachers looking to hunt the sharks for their fins.
Genius River Bridge is a bridge that was created by artist “Pancho”. The bridge is made up from the nets, lines, and buoys confiscated from the hunters, by the park rangers. The bridge not only acts as a distinct span across the river, but as a dedication to the rangers who devote their lives in hopes of stopping the inhumane act of shark hunting.
Costa Rica is one of the countries with a number of affordable Spanish language centers where travelers can enroll for group or private classes. No matter how long your stay in Costa Rica, most institutes can accommodate your needs. Spanish institutes are also a great opportunity for you to meet and mingle with the locals, really allowing you to practice your newly developed skills.
Learning Spanish in Costa Rica is much more influential on your ability to learn as you will be able to use the language right away in your everyday interactions. Whether buying items at the grocery, negotiating at the local markets, booking an adventure excursion, or checking-in to your hotel, you will be receiving real-life practice to help hone your skills, and boost your confidence.