‘Pura Vida’ ’is the national expression of Costa Ricans, a catch-all phrase that can mean anything from ‘hello’ to ‘that’s awesome’. Its literal translation is Pure Life, a term that captures the essence of this, the world’s greenest – and happiest – country; small but bursting at the seams with life.
Here we distil Costa Rica’s limitless opportunities for discovery into five reasons that make it the essential destination for adventure travel. Escape the mundane this winter and join Gapforce on its 4-week Costa Rica Adventure to get to grips with pura vida for yourself.
National parks make up more than 10% of Costa Rica’s territory, preserving a mind-boggling array of landscapes – cloud forest; jungle; wetland; mangroves; caves; volcanoes and beaches. Snow is just about the only thing you won’t find here. Whether marvelling at the unparalleled plant diversity in the Monteverde cloud forest, hiking on the flanks of Arenal, the country’s largest volcano or relaxing on the beach (of which Costa Rica has some of the best in the world), you’re bound to be presented with a sight you’ve never seen.
Costa Rica guards some of the healthiest animal habitats to be found anywhere. In fact, it hosts 5% of the world’s biodiversity, From the rare and mystical like the jaguar to the downright cute and fuzzy like the three-toed sloth, this tropical paradise teems with untold numbers of species. Among other things it’s the hummingbird capital of the world and an important haven of hope for struggling species like sea turtles and great green macaws.
There’s no shortage of entertainment for the thrill-seeker. Gaining a monkey’s-eye-view of the rainforest on a canopy tour; making like a bird on a high-speed zipline or screaming down some of the world’s best runs for white water rafting are just some of the activities on offer. With Gapforce, you can go where few tourists get to tread – deep into the rainforest for a taste of jungle survival.
If you’re anything like the author, this will be reason enough for a stay, For Ticos (slang for Costa Rican nationals), food has to be fresh and it has to have flavour, blending the best of Latin American and Caribbean cuisines. You don’t know what a hearty breakfast is until you’ve tried gallo pinto (refried rice and beans) with scrambled eggs, washed down by a large cup of coffee which is widely acclaimed as – you guessed it – some of the best in the world. Those last four words seem to come up a lot in reference to Costa Rica.
The Happy Planet Index rates Costa Rica the most satisfying place on Earth to live, based on the wellbeing and low environmental impact of its people. By comparison, the UK ranks 34th. Costa Rica has no standing army, a higher life expectancy than the United States, and an impressive rate of literacy. All this is reflected in the easy-going friendliness that characterises Costa Rican people, who, as long as you return their smiles, will invariably welcome you to paradise with their unique greeting, ‘Pura Vida’.
Think Costa Rica sounds like the place for you? Introducing the Costa Rica Adventure travel program at Gapforce. We pack the best sights and sensations in the country into one four-week adventure, all managed by Gapforce’s seasoned expedition leaders. Highlights include ziplining though the Monteverde cloud forest; getting active in the Arenal National Park; volunteering on a vital turtle conservation project; getting a taste of rainforest living; and soaking up some sun on Caribbean beaches.
To find out more about this program, visit Gapforce website for dates, prices and availability.