Located along Costa Rica’s Northern border with Nicaragua, the Northern Plains Region is composed of flat farmland, flowing rivers, towering volcanoes, and large parks. Tourists can choose from a wide variety of outdoor and adventure activities ranging from white water rafting in Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui or hiking in Arenal Volcano National Park. The Northern Plains is also home to Costa Rica’s most beautiful city, Alajuela. Lounge in Alajuela’s central park on a pleasant afternoon and leisurely watch city life around you. Visitors to the Northern Plains can expect a delightful trip, filled with some of Costa Rica’s most beautiful natural attractions and charming towns.
Arenal Volcano National Park
Travellers from around Costa Rica head to Arenal Volcano National Park to see what was once the country’s most active volcano, with approximately 41 eruptions a day. However, in the past several years the volcano has entered a new resting phase, putting an end to flowing lava and rock explosions that once made the park famous. Although Arenal Volcano’s activity is now limited to billowing smoke, travellers to the National Park can still witness old lava flows or bathe in thermal hot springs. After a long day of hiking, many visitors opt to soak in a relaxing warm bath surrounded by jungle and a view of the volcano. Other activities in the park include ziplining, animal observation, hiking across aerial bridges, and exploring the Venado Caves. Make sure to spend time on Arenal Lake, which is one of the park’s most famous landmarks. Located at the base of Arenal volcano, the beautiful lake is the perfect place to go kayaking, paddleboarding, or even take a dinner cruise. Due to the lake’s centrality in the National Park, visitors can admire the lakefront while they go about their other activities.
La Fortuna is a small town of 15,000 people located at the base of Arenal Volcano National Park in Costa Rica’s Northern Lowlands. Due to the popularity of the volcano, nearly 1.5 million travelers visit La Fortuna each year. At the center of the town is a beautiful park and church, which serve as the community’s main meeting place. The rest of La Fortuna consists of a few streets lined with souvenir shops, restaurants, and hotels. Guests can use La Fortuna as a place to stay during their visit to Arenal Volcano and also purchase any necessary supplies for their trip. Visitors should also be sure to visit La Fortuna’s most famous natural landmark, the La Fortuna Waterfall. Located 15 minutes from the town on foot or horseback, travelers can swim in crystal clear waters in the middle of the jungle as a 200 foot waterfall plunges around them. A great way to cool off in the Northern Plains’ hot days.
Monteverde is a mountainous town known for its cloud forest. This town in Costa Rica attracts visitors from all over the world for living and for visiting. With its rare habitat of the cloud forest and a special flora and fauna, the climate here offers a very unique experience for anyone who touches ground here.
Travelers and locals can enjoy the small town with its conveniences such as pharmacies, grocery stores, banks, and most of what one would need while still being surrounded by beautiful nature and a comfortable climate. If you’ll be planning a visit there, make sure to bring your sweaters and long pants as it can get quite chilly!
Cano Negro Wildlife Reserve
Located near the border of Nicaragua, Cano Negro Wildlife Reserve is a popular day trip from Arenal National Park. The wildlife reserve is famous for its wildlife on land and in the water. Visitors can expect to see a wide variety of birds, monkeys, large cat species, and sharks. The reserve is predominantly composed of wetland and rivers, meaning that visitors must enter the area by boat. Once there, travellers can get close to nature on kayak or opt for sport fishing along the rivers. Cano Negro Wildlife Reserve is a great option for naturalist and birdwatchers trying to get the most out of their trip to Arenal.
Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui
Once a popular port city during the 19th century, Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí has become a growing ecotourism and outdoor adventure destination in Costa Rica. The town of Viejo de Sarapiqui is planned around the large Sarapiqui River, a tributary of Rio San Juan, which marks the border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica. One of the largest draws to this area is the opportunity to go white water rafting. A number of tours are offered for visitors looking to navigate the Class III and IV rapids by boat. Nearby Balsa River also offers tours of smaller Class II and III rapids for beginners. Outside of rafting, visitors have the option to go kayaking, visit nearby banana plantations, or head to breathtaking butterfly fields. Tourists seeking adventure should definitely consider a stop at Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, to see all of what the Northern Plains has to offer.
Braulio Carrillo National Park
Located between the capital of San Jose and city of Limon, Braulio Carrillo National Park is spectacular in both its size, accessibility, and diversity of wildlife. Interestingly, the National Park is set around one of Costa Rica’s major roadways, the Guapiles Highway. This position allows visitors to easily exit their car and trek among the many different trails that run through the 44,000 hectares of park. Due to the sheer size of Braulio Carrillo, there is an immense amount of diversity with over 500 species of birds and 150 species of animals. The park is also home to one of the rarest and most spectacular birds in Central America, the Quetzal. Due to the change in elevation, hikers can experience seven different diverse habitats of flora and fauna, ranging from mountainous rainforests to oceanside beach. This park is a great place to go for hikers of all levels, as there is easy access to trails of various difficulties located all along the highway.
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