Costa Rica, small paradise
Some interesting and informative facts about Costa Rica. I just want to share with you, the beautiful places and activities in my country.
Some interesting and informative facts about Costa Rica. I just want to share with you, the beautiful places and activities in my country.
A quick and easy day trip from Costa Rica’s capitol city of San Jose is to the Botanical Gardens at CATIE (the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center) in Turrialba.
Just an hour and a half from the Central Valley, you’ll be in a tropical plantation paradise.
Jardin Botanico at CATIENature lovers, get your cameras ready! Stroll down paths beneath the shade of Costa Rica’s national Guanacaste tree, and under 100-year-old Ceiba trees while you learn their importance in the country’s history and folklore. Delight in viewing giant bromeliads, delicate miniature orchids, bright bougainvilleas and heliconias, gingers and other fabulous ornamental plants. Smell the heady aroma of the Asian ylangylang tree, its scent used in perfumes around the world. Get to know the Brazilian grape tree, whose fruit is used in jams and sweets, and the Kepel apple from Asia whose taste is reminiscent of sweet condensed milk.
CATIE is an international research and graduate educational institution focusing on the agricultural sciences and natural resources. It was originally founded in 1942 and became the institution it is today in 1973. It works with international institutions and organizations from Mexico to South America.
CATIE has accomplished great results to note, including creating and maintaining a forest seed bank since 1967, developing new alternatives for managing watershed systems, techniques for diversified management of forests and natural resource reserves, conservation methods, community management of natural resources, and improved production systems for small and medium scale farmers. With a permanent and temporary staff of nearly 500 and an average yearly budget of some US$20 million, CATIE occupies an important niche in Latin America.
The Botanical Gardens (Jardin Botanico) are open daily from 7 am to 4 pm. (506) 2556-2700.
A fantastic way to see the gardens and surrounding fruit plantations is by bicycle! Explornatura in Turrialba offers just such a Tropical Biking Tour.
Costa Rica is fast becoming one of the world’s top destinations for cycling and mountain biking.
The annual Vuelta Ciclista a Costa Rica (Tour of Costa Rica) just finished in December. The 12-day-long stage race is Costa Rica’s own version of the world-famous Tour de France, and has been steadily attracting international competitors over the past 40 years. The race crisscrosses the country across towering mountain ranges from sea level to more than 3,000 meters (nearly 10,000 feet high). For 2011, Costa Rica’s own Jose Adrian Bonilla brought home the gold medal.
One of the most challenging and grueling mountain-bike races in the world is another annual competition in Costa Rica. Now 15 years in the running, La Ruta de los Conquistadores (the Route of the Conquerors) retraces the path of the 16th-century Spanish conquistadores, winding up 170 miles from the Pacific Coast across mountain ranges and volcanoes, and down again to the Caribbean Sea – all in just four days! The race usually takes place in November, and attracts hundreds of competitors from around the world.
If you’d like to try your own adventure, several local tour companies offer day tours. One of the more interesting is the Tropical Biking Tour from Explornatura in Turrialba, just an hour and a half from San Jose. The adventure tour takes you in and around the plantations and botanical gardens of the internationally renowned CATIE (the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center). The topography of the ride can be adapted to any level of bike rider, and you’ll delight in free-wheeling it through plantations of coffee, cocoa, sugar cane, citrus, plantains, bananas, macadamia trees, pineapple, mango and avocado trees.
Last month took place the World Rafting Championship 2011 in Costa Rica. An event full of adrenaline, mixed emotions and the natural settings that only Costa Rica could have given!
Definitely the rafting championship was an adventure from the beginning to the end. Competitors, staff, public and organizers had the chance to live a once in a lifetime experience. All in all, the Costa Rican flavor and the authentic ¨Pura Vida¨ played hosts of visitors and competitors from 32 different countries.
Teams start arriving weeks before the event inauguration, in order to get familiar with the river and made the final trainings to be ready. Japan women were the first team to arrive at Mollejones.
Thursday October 7th was the date, inauguration acts were held at ¨Gimnasio Turrialba 96¨ in the town of Turrialba. The competitors marched thru the downtown sharing with locals, all very excited and happy. The teams were received at the ¨gimnasio¨ with applauses and cheers from the public and the rest of competitors, each country had a warm welcome. The inauguration was full of cultural activities from the community children and the ¨Cabecar¨ group, who sang the anthem to Pacuare River.
Now, let´s move to the real action! Competitions started on Friday, the first race was Sprint, where each team had to compete in ¨The upper¨ section of the Pacuare River running class IV and V rapids while they try to go as fast as they could to improve their times, in this case it was all about getting the best time. Winners of the day were Brazil in the men category and Netherlands in female.
The second day of competitions gave place to Head to Head race, one of the most fight competitions of the whole championship, also one of the most excited events. Since the competition took place on a Saturday, this day the crowds filled the river banks with flags, some drinks to cool out from the sun and many cheers and support for their respective teams, off course Costa Rica teams had the biggest number of fans. The race extended the whole day, this time the teams had to race two at a time, fighting for a position to the next heat. Cheers, adrenaline and excitement were coming from the public each time the teams competed. A heavy rain came over in the afternoon making difficult all the logistics to end the competition, women´s last race was not completed until next day. Chile took the 1st place.
Slalom was the third race, which was cataloged as the most challenging slalom course ever seen in a world championship. Competitors were also surprised by the increase level of water in the river, making the conditions of the race even more difficult. Some of the teams flipped or get caught on the rocks, the adrenaline starred during the race. This time Czech Republic took first place in both categories; followed by Japan in men and Costa Rica in women. Costa Rican women made history in this race, giving for the first time a place in the podium to our country.
The last competition was the down river, a very tough one hour long race thru some beautiful sections of the canyon, running thru class II, III and IV rapids. The race was won by Japan in both female and male category.
Five days of adventure, rain, trekking thru the mountains, jungle animals and unique races ended up crowning the new World Rafting Champions. Japan men and Czech Republic women became the World Champions 2011.
Overall the event was a success, gathering in such a remote place over 300 competitors coming from 32 different countries and giving recognition to one of the top rivers to whitewater raft in the world: Pacuare.
Luckily, this championship was well received by the tourism board of Costa Rica and sponsors, who joined the organization efforts to make it happen. Explornatura figured as one of the sponsors of the event.
If you would like to experience some of the adventure lived at the WRC Costa Rica 2011, try a rafting tour in the majestic Pacuare River.
Puerto Viejo can be called the main tourist destination of the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. The town is located in Talamanca Canton in the province of Limon, in the southeastern coast of the country, close to the Panamanian border.
The magic of this place is a combination of different reasons such as white sand beaches, crystal waters, excellent surf conditions, wide variety of wildlife, great diversity of cultures and one of the most attractive factors: laid-back vibe Caribbean style.
Many Puerto Viejo´s visitors have become permanent residents after they fall in love with the area being the main reason for its cultural mixture and diversity. Different cultures can be easily found by just walking down the streets of Puerto Viejo. Indigenous Bribri inhabitants are a very important part of the population, follow by the African Caribbean along with ¨los ticos¨ and expats from USA, Canada and Europe.
Adding this combination of cultures to its natural richness can only result in the perfect blend on a holiday vacation. The beaches have their own authentic charm; Playa Chiquita, Playa Negra and Punta Uva are some of the most beautiful in the country.
Surfing conditions make another well-known reason to visit the area. One of the most visited surf spots is ¨Salsa Brava¨ the most powerful wave of Costa Rica, very popular among surfers around the world.
The features of the sea are as well privileged; here when the waters are down, become some of the clearest in Costa Rica, very suitable for good snorkeling in the nearby coral reefs.
The range of activities and things to do in the area is wide, lost of active adventure options like kayaking, rainforest trails, variety of restaurants and services. Wildlife is an outstanding highlight of the area; Puerto Viejo is home to the famous Howler Monkey; while you are on the beach or just relaxing in one of the nearby hotels you can listen, see and enjoy the sounds and views of this biodiversity.
Accommodation options are very particular, rustic and authentic mostly immersed into the rainforest with ocean front views, a whole different world from the developed and touristy 5 star services in the North Pacific area of Costa Rica. Nearby areas like Cahuita, Cocles and Manzanillo also make part of the package.
Right now is a good time to visit the Caribbean side, especially if you take into consideration the weather conditions in the rest of the country. Elements Travel can help you plan and customize a unique vacation in this laid-back area of our country.
San Jose downtown is known for many different features, offering different options for its visitors. The museums and National Theatre make up some of the most important attractions in the area.
Right in the downtown within walking distance you can find three different museums; one of them is the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum.
The Pre-Columbian Gold Museum exhibits an amazing collection of objects made in gold by the Pre-Columbian inhabitants of Costa Rica. This collection has a total of 1600 pieces that were worked from 500 AD to 1500 AD.
The exhibition presents the functions of the pieces and their respective uses as well as the fabrication and techniques to create them in conjunction with the reflection of their social organization and everyday life of the societies.
The museum is divided in two areas, the orientation area which is on the second level and the exhibition of the pieces in the third level. In the introductory section the visitors can get information about the evolution and development of these cultures including both social and cultural aspects, as well as the history of metallurgy with its styles and stages in the country.
The second section showcase the exhibition of the gold pieces giving the chance to the visitors to observe and admire all the extraordinary pieces, helping to put together the whole meaning of the collection into the natural and world view of our ancestors.
The Pre-Columbian artisans worked with alluvial gold, obtained from the river silt and coastal shoreline sand, most of the objects that have been recovered come from the South Pacific area of Costa Rica, where the natural gold used to exist.
Some of the objects they made in gold were hooks, needles and symbols for personal adornments and to use them during their rituals. Many representations were based in fauna, like fish, jaguars, frogs and turtles, giving faith of the value they were given to the natural surroundings.
Hotel Ritzli located in the heart of the downtown can be a great start point for a visit to the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum and the rest of cultural buildings in the area, being also a convenient hotel to stay at either the beginning or the end of your trip to Costa Rica.
The Worldwide Rafting Championship 2011 is just around the corner. International teams have been arriving since last week and are already training at the renowned Pacuare River.
For third time Costa Rica will be hosting this important event, the first experience came in 1991 as the first World Rafting Championship, then again in 1998. The International Rafting Federation (IRF), main body of the sport chose Pacuare River commemorating the first championship that took place 20 years ago and to promote sustainable practices and ecotourism, in a country known for it.
Teams are coming from over 35 countries around the world; both male and female competitors will challenge each other in one of the top ten rivers to white water raft in the world. The competitions will be divided in four race categories: Sprint, Head-to-Head, Slalom and Downriver.
The big opening event will take place tomorrow at Turrialba and the official competitions will start on October 7th and will last until October 10th, where the downriver race will take place crowning the World´s champion of the year.
Costa Rica´s team expectations are very high, they have been preparing for the championship for the last two years and as hosts of the event the teams are ready to represent the country and give the best of them.
Explornatura proudly support this event from the very first stages of preparation and right now figures as one of the official sponsors of the activity. You can follow all news and updates in their official Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as in their website.
If you enjoy extreme sports and adrenaline this is the perfect opportunity to be delighted by a world class event of this category. Check the map to get there and the official song of the event.
Last time on the article Body and Mind in balance: Yoga! I had the chance to highlight the number of benefits yoga can bring to our lives and how wonderful is to combine it with a perfect vacation in a secluded paradise beach in Costa Rica as it is Santa Teresa.
Santa Teresa beach offers the perfect settings to practice this discipline; this might be the reason why many of the resorts and hotels are getting specialized in bringing options to this kind of guests.
Yoga retreats are usually thought on behalf of the purification, healing and relaxation of the people who get immersed into it. These retreats are based on different categories of yoga, creating objectives and planning steps to follow during the days of the retreat.
Let´s take as example the two latest additions of Hotel Tropico Latino, one of hotels offering yoga retreats in Santa Teresa beach. The first one was named Tantra Vinyasa Yoga & Adventure Retreat; basing it on two types of yoga, Tantra and Vinyasa.
Tantra Yoga is India's Secret Science that seeks for the connection between the 7 chackras (energy centers) and the 5 nature elements through its postures; helping the yogi to access the infinite universal energy, taking it to the core of its frustrations, fears and anxiety, allowing the person to control and direct the energy in the energetic body through the physical body. On the other hand, the Vinyasa Yoga practice is a profound breath to body linking mechanism that helps the yogi to trust its body, creating a closer connection and leaving a feeling of strength and control in the body.
The objective is to blend the elements of these yoga types to leave a renewed sense of deep self-knowing and newfound positive thoughts to improve the weaknesses of the yogi life. This first retreat combines intensive yoga practice, surf lessons, healthy diet, spa treatments, relaxation and fun at the beach surrounded by tropical lush gardens and wildlife.
The second example is the Restorative Vinyasa Yoga & Adventure Retreat. In this case, the combination comes with Vinyasa and Restorative Yoga, along with the Chakras. Restorative yoga can be described as a supported, conscious body/mind relaxation practice, offering benefits to both body and mind. Done in sequence, a restorative yoga practice will bring your body into a deeply relaxed state allowing your mind to become quiet and reflective.
The practice of Vinyasa yoga during the mornings and Restorative yoga in the evenings mixed with the focus of a new chakra every day, during both classes; can help the yogi to receive all the benefits from the three global concepts. The retreat combines the same activities than the first one, only changing the objectives and steps to approach the healing and relaxation the yogi is looking for.
Combining a group of elements in one place can make you live an unforgettable experience and this is exactly what a yoga retreat in Santa Teresa can give you. The practice of yoga, developing new skills on surfing, nature and wildlife surrounding you all the time, warm weather and one of the most privileged beach locations in the world, along with the feeling of positive healing energy and the once lost perfect balance of body, mind and soul. All these elements become the perfect blend for one memorable healing getaway.
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