Costa Rica is a pioneer of eco-tourism, and a quarter of the country is made up of protected reserves and national parks. This makes it the perfect adventure playground for children and parents alike. Begin your explorations by heading for the Caribbean coast, taking in waterfalls and the world’s largest butterfly collection en route, and travel by boat into the Tortuguero National Park to discover the rich jungle and marine life of this coastal rainforest. Between July and October, sights include the rare green turtle, which comes ashore to nest on the beaches. On the subject of turtles, on Costa Rica family holidays nature calls the shots.
Your children will watch, enthralled, as a sloth descends a tree trunk in slow motion, then gasp as they spot hummingbirds flitting from flower to flower. Close encounters with playful monkeys and cheeky toucans elicit delight, but rushing down a white water river will have them screaming for more. Cloudforests offer an education too: seeing tiny fluorescent tree frogs and the mating dance of the manakin will give them a taste for biology classes when they return home. And watching a live volcano smoking before their eyes might make them long to become volcanologists. Wherever you go in this serene and lovely country, the landscape kindles a sense of natural wonder.
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What you can find on a Costa Rica family holiday that you won't find anywhere else?
This small Central American country is one of the most biodiverse places on Earth, crammed with a greater variety of plants and animals than you can shake a stick at - although we don't advise that. Anyone, whatever age, who has a keen interest in the natural world, will be as happy as a squirrel in a nut shop in Costa Rica.
In the north of Costa Rica, the majestic Arenal volcano is one of the highlights of the country. The eruptions, though frequent, are moderate and you can often view them from safe distances, allowing your family to see a spectacular sight, especially at night when the glow from the crater stands out in the darkness. River safaris, white-water rafting, horse riding, mountain biking, wallowing in natural hot springs or windsurfing on Lake Arenal are some of the huge range of activities available in this region. The Arenal Hanging Bridges is a hugely memorable experience, allowing the kids to get to grips with the fascinating and colourful world of the rainforest canopy.
Adrenaline seekers should head the cloudforest of the central highlands, where you can swoop through the treetops on zip wires, or if you prefer to keep your feet firmly on the ground take part in a nocturnal nature walk. Costa Rica has a combination of dramatic scenery and wildlife, such as squirrel monkeys, tree frogs, mud turtles and the rare quetzal bird. However no trip to Costa Rica is complete with out spending a few days relaxing on the sandy beaches of the pacific coast.
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