Backpacking Costa Rica: Why this destination should be at the top of your travel plans

Flanked by the Pacific to its west and the Caribbean Sea to its east, Costa Rica is a rugged and beautiful gem in the heart of Central America. Roughly a quarter of the country is covered by dense and protected jungle, teeming with wildlife from howler monkeys to jaguar. Although the capital San Jose is well known for its array of museums and culture, Costa Rica is most famous for its beaches, volcanoes and biodiversity. The country accounts for as little as 0.03% of the earth’s surface yet contains nearly 6% of the world’s biodiversity. The Osa Peninsula, in Costa Rica’s remote and tourist free southwest corner, accounts for an astonishing 2.5% of global biodiversity despite covering an area of just 700 square miles. Named as “the most biologically intense place on the planet”, it is often regarded as a ‘sacred’ area in need of conservation and protection.

Whether you plan to discover isolated beaches or enjoy the local cuisine, you won’t be short of ways to satisfy your adventurous side. The only limitation is your return flight!

Best things to do in Costa Rica

Although such a small country, Costa Rica has ample opportunities for adventure. It truly punches above its weight, making it a genuine playground for exploration and pleasure.


If you’re looking for some inspiration, there’s no better place to start than by visiting Arenal and checking out the iconic and perfectly shaped conical volcano. The area surrounding Arenal has trails to wander, waterfalls to admire and hot springs to relax in. A true adventurers paradise.

Fancy something slightly more action packed? Why not join a white-water rafting trip and paddle down one of Costa Rica’s wide and panoramic rivers? These rivers, stemming from volcanic mountain ranges and winding down to the Pacific and Caribbean, produce world-class white-water rapids and some stunning scenery. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing paddle down the river, enjoying the wildlife and serenity, or wanting to push yourself down some harder graded rapids, there’s a trip out there for you. All you need to do is grab a trusty helmet and life-jacket and prepare to get a little wet!

Building a traditional raft – with some help from our Bribri guide


How about a bit of Central American culture? Costa Rica has several native indigenous tribes located throughout the country. Many of these tribes remain isolated and have maintained their ancient cultures. Living in remote locations and in most cases living off the land, these tribes offer a unique insight into the past and it is important that their way of life is understood and protected. Many of these tribes farm and sell a raw seed from the cacao tree that, as the name suggests, produces chocolate! Once used as a currency in ancient civilisations, the cacao plant is revered by the tribe and has special cultural and tribal significance. In the southeast corner of Costa Rica, near Puerto Viejo, and in an area known as the Kéköldi Indigenous Reserve, one Bribri tribe has opened the doors to its jungle home and offers chocolate tours of its farms and village. If you are interested in learning more about these amazing people, how they live and maybe even trying some chocolate, then these tours are a must!

Making Chocolate!

Best time to go to Costa Rica

Costa Rica has several distinct micro-climates, meaning the weather and climate can vary tremendously depending on the season and location. It may be flooding in one valley and bone dry in another. The rainy season often ends in December, but the jungles remain green and lush well into the new year whist the beaches continue to be bathed in golden sunshine. There is slightly more rain in Costa Rica during the summer (June & July) but less tourists so everything feels a little less busy.

In short, there really is no bad time to travel to Costa Rica, it just depends on what you want to experience and how you envisage your trip panning out. Remember, one of the gems of Costa Rica is its rainforests, and, guess what – it rains in the jungle!

Puerto Viejo

Puerto Viejo

Preparing your Costa Rica Itinerary

Planning the itinerary of a trip can at times be brilliant, as you look forward to your adventures, but can also be quite tricky, with the duration of your trip, knowing where to start and packing in as much as possible being common headaches. Gapforce is here to help. If you’re dead set on visiting Costa Rica, but haven’t planned a trip before, why not check out our Costa Rica Adventure. A four-week adventure led by our qualified Expedition Leaders, this trip offers you all that Costa Rica has to offer, from golden surf beaches to dense, tropical rainforest, with a packed itinerary pre-planned and ready to go. All you need to do is book a place and let the adventure begin!

If you’d like to learn more about this exciting program then check out the program page linked above or email the team on



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