Volcano of Arenal with stone stairs on the foreground at sunny day. Costa Rica

Volcán Arenal National Park

Located 15 kilometers from Fortuna in the northwest part of Costa Rica, between the foothills of the Cordillera de Tilarán mountain range and the San Carlos plains, Volcán Arenal National Park is one of the most visited destinations in the Northern Zone. Several trails-Heliconias, Coladas, Tucanes and Los Miradores-allow observation of much of the park’s flora and fauna, as well as the remains of lava tracts. The park covers a 12,124-hectare area.

Children’s Eternal Forest – Poco Sol Biological Station

The Poco Sol Biological Station is located at 720 meters above sea level on the Atlantic slope of the Cordillera de Tilarán, inside the Children’s Eternal Forest private preserve. Around the station there are some 10 kilometers of trails through primary and secondary forest and pastures in regeneration. The site features a variety of environments, including a 3.8-hectare lake, waterfall, fumaroles and hot springs. As at the San Gerardo Station, the area’s forest is classified as premontane pluvial forest, and is always green. Though at a lower altitude and close to transition to a different type of forest, the Poco Sol Station is unique in terms of biodiversity and scenic beauty.

Kayakers exploring the wildlife in the Cano Negro wildlife refuge.

Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge

Caño Negro is a RAMSAR site of worldwide importance for wetlands conservation. The refuge is vital to the environmental balance of the country’s Northern Zone. This habitat shelters a wide variety of plant and wildlife species, many of which are unique or in danger of extinction, including seabirds such as the jabiru and reptiles such as caimans and turtles. During the dry season, the refuge becomes an important feeding ground for the thousands of seabirds that arrive at the wetland. The plumage of some of these birds will change color and take on a pinkish hue due to the mollusks consumed by the birds. The natural wealth here includes plant and animal species found nowhere else in the country, including the prehistoric Gaspar fish-considered a living fossil.

Jaguar in the middle of the forest

La Selva Biological Station

Located in Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí, at the confluence of two great rivers, La Selva Biological Station comprises 1,600 hectares of tropical wet forest and deforested land in regeneration. Wildlife here is diverse, and includes large animals such as jaguars, pumas and tapirs. Thousands of arthropod species are currently being recorded here, and more than 400 species of birds, both resident and migratory, have been observed-that’s almost half the bird species found in Costa Rica. One of the rainiest places in the country, La Selva receives an average of four meters (more than 13 feet) of precipitation annually, constant throughout the year. La Selva Biological Station is one of the most important sites in the world for tropical wet forest research.

Arenal Volcano ‘puffs’ out a cloud above the rainforest on the shores of Lake Arenal in Costa Rica

Arenal Reservoir

An 87.8-square-kilometer artificial lake at an elevation of 546 meters above sea level, the Arenal reservoir is perfect for trips on large boats fitted out for tourists, fishing or waterskiing. It is also well known among windsurfers as the windsurfing center of Costa Rica, with winds reaching an average speed of 72 kilometers per hour.

Cote or Coter Lake

This lake is situated at 680 meters above sea level and has a diameter of approximately one kilometer. Many Costa Rican scientists believe the lake is a crater due to its geological characteristics. Recreational and tourism activities here include boat tours and fishing.

Tabacon river waterfall

Rio Tabacon

Located in the vicinity of Volcán Arenal, this river has had a series of improvements made along its banks, giving rise to another of Fortuna’s attractions: Tabacón hot springs. At a temperature of 37 degrees Celsius, these waters relax muscles, clean the skin and reduce stress. Several nearby companies have developed access facilities for visitor enjoyment, including pools at various temperatures strewn among beautiful gardens surrounded by tropical forest.

Volcán Chato

Located southeast of Arenal, this volcano has an altitude of 1,140 meters above sea level. Its crater is 550 meters in diameter, and features a stunning lake fringed by lush greenery. Visiting it requires a bit of a climb, but the reward is well worthwhile: views of forests, birds, the northern plains and breathtaking Volcán Arenal.

Waterfall with emerald pool in rainforest – Catarata Rio Fortuna, La Fortuna, Alajuela province, Costa Rica

La Fortuna Waterfall

This stunning attraction is located 5.5 kilometers from Fortuna. A steep trail allows visitors to view the 70-meter-tall waterfall. Funds from entry fees to the waterfall are used by the Association to pay for various projects and activities for the good of the region.

La Fortuna, Costa Rica – March 31, 2014: View of the town of La Fortuna in Costa Rica with the Arenal Volcano on the back.

Fortuna

Situated at 253 meters above sea level, this community is made up of people with great spirit and business drive, who have converted a largely agricultural region into a booming commercial and tourism destination. The city features a lovely surrounding landscape, the most imposing features of which are the picture-perfect cones of Volcán Arenal and its eternal companion, Volcán Chato.

Venado Caverns – Costa Rica

Venado Caverns

Discovered in 1962, these caverns are located three kilometers from the town of Venado. Approximately 2,000 meters long, the cavern system contains unique geological features, many of which have yet to be explored. Spelunking in these caves is an adventure not to be missed by nature-lovers. With good access facilities, the caves are easily visited; several tourism outfits offer tours through a large part of the cavern system.

Maleku Indigenous Reservation

Centuries ago, the Maleku-a branch of the Chibchas-were spread out over 23 villages. Over the last 100 years or so, the population has shrunk, and today only around 600 Maleku remain in the palenques (straw huts) of El Sol, Margarita and Tonjibe, located six kilometers from San Rafael de Guatuso. Their main needs are lands to continue cultivating medicinal plants and repairs to their access roads and bridges. In general terms, the people of Guatuso preserve their language and have their own unique burial traditions, songs, ways of preparing food and raising children, methods of transporting goods, playing drums and using bows and arrows. They also make hammocks and bags woven out of vegetable fibers.

Celeste Waterfall – Rio Celeste – Costa Rica

Rio Celeste

One of the region’s most stunning tours, the Río Celeste trip cannot be missed. A combination of adventure, nature-watching and geological features, the voyage includes a visit to a place called Teñidero (“Dyer’s Shop”), where the clear waters are naturally “dyed” turquoise-blue, as well as a hike and a tour through the forest leading to the extraordinary Celeste waterfall, which, like the river, offers spectacular scenery.

Marina Zoo Palmera

Located in the Palmera district’s marina, between Ciudad Quesada and Aguas Zarcas, this zoo houses more than 200 species of birds, mammals and reptiles, and develops protection and breeding programs for animals in danger of extinction.

Angel Falls – Central Mountain Range Costa Rica

Ángel Waterfall

This waterfall can be seen from certain parts of the highway (La Isla), and may be visited by following a trail along the banks of the Río Angel on the outskirts of Cariblanco. Though the waterfall is approximately 100 meters, only the upper part is exposed to open air.

Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui river in Costa Rica

Sarapiquí River

Many years ago, when highways did not exist, the only way to journey through Central America was via the Río Sarapiquí. The enchanting scenery along its banks is a delight for those who want to get close to nature. The Sarapiquí runs through 84 kilometers of diverse landscapes, and is a good place to see birds, monkeys, turtles, caimans and more. The river has become a tourist destination for nature- and wildlife-watchers, and allows visits to the Río San Juan, Barra del Colorado and Tortuguero.

Tropical Discovery Tours going to this location: