Those that don’t come to Costa Rica to surf or hang out on the beach all day usually come to explore the countries amazing jungles and rain forests. Costa Rica has a pretty impressive national park system and natural reserves. These parks can be a great, and very affordable way, to safely explore the jungles of Costa Rica. Many of these parks and reserves only charge an entrance fee for self guided tours. Some of them also offer free or very cheap guided tours of the area as well.
Here are some of the most popular national parks and reserves in Costa Rica:
Arenal Volcano National Park
The Arenal volcano is the most popular volcano in all of Costa Rica. This is true for one simple reason. It is one of the most active volcanoes in the country. It is so active in fact that on clear nights you can see lava spiting out of the top of it! It is truly a site to see. You can visit the park on your own or with a tour guide.
Arenal Waterfall Park
Located in the same city as the Arenal Volcano National park is the Arenal Waterfall Park. This is a cool place to visit and it only cost a few dollars to get in. You can easily hike to the waterfall yourself without a guide. Once you get to the waterfall you can go swimming or just sit and take in the beauty. Beware though, the water is extremely cold!
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Chauita National Park
If you want to do some animal watching while in Costa Rica, the Chauita National Park is a great place to do it. If you visit at the right time of day ( early in the morning) you will see all sorts of animals. Some of the most common are howler monkeys, sloths, iguanas, and toucans. You can visit the aprk on your own or with a guide.
Reserva Biologica Carara
This is another great park to visit if you want to do some serious animal watching. The park has two main trails that wind through a variety of terrain and ecosystems. As a result of walking through so many different types of terrain, you will see a wide variety of animals. This reserve is especially cool if you are into bird watching. but birds aside, there are a tons of different animals in the reserve.
La Paz Waterfall Gardens
The Lapaz Waterfall Gardens is privately owned and a little more commercial than the other parks on this list. because of this, the admission fee is much higher than the national parks and reserves. But, it is money well spent. The park features a very impressive aviary and butterfly garden. You can also hand feed humming birds, see wild cats, and hike the waterfall trail which passes by 3 very large waterfalls.