Southern Costa Rica Attractions
Inland southern Costa Rica is dominated by the Cordillera de Talamanca mountain range. The area is of specific interest to climbers, as several mountains over 3,000m/9,840ft are found in the region. Chirripó Mountain (3,820m/12,530ft) is Costa Rica's highest peak and is one of the country's top attractions. This region covers parts of both the Puntarenas and San José provinces.National parks and biological reserves are the major attractions in this region. The largest population of indigenous peoples are found in southern Costa Rica, and there are several indigenous reserves. Also found here is the largest national protected area, La Amistad International Park, which continues across the Panamanian border.
Parque Internacional La Amistad
La Amistad is the largest single protected area in Costa Rica. It is an international park because it continues across the Panama border, where it is separately managed. La Amistad is combined with several biological and indigenous reserves and Chirripó National Park forming a protected zone called the Amistad-Talamanca Regional Conservation Unit (RCU). In 1982, the area was declared a biosphere by UNESCO and designated as a World Heritage Site.The strictly protected core area covers 250,000ha/617,500ac. Surrounding the core is a highly controlled buffer zone covering an additional 340,000ha/839,800ac. The remote area is of great interest because there are a variety of tropical habitats within it, ranging from rainforest to desert páramo. These areas are joined by an additional 440,000ha/1,086,800ac in Panama.Nine of Costa Rica's 12 Holdridge Life Zones are represented in the reserve, which is home to several species of wildlife. Many common mammals as well as jaguars, pumas, giant anteaters, ocelots and the nation's largest population of Baird's tapirs are present in the reserve. 500 bird species, 115 species of fish and 215 species of amphibians have been recorded.The rugged terrain of Amistad includes many of the thickly forested slopes of the Cordillera de Talamanca. Many of the mountains reach over 3,000m/9,840ft in elevation. There is almost no development within the park, and hiking is difficult. The area is so remote that visitation is very low, and Amistad is only for the very adventurous and experienced wilderness travellers.
Durika Biological Reserve & Anael Farm
Situated on the flanks of Durika Mountain in the Cordillera de Talamanca, this private biological reserve covers 8,500ha/1,729ac. Hiking and birding are the main activities at Durika, and several excursions are offered from the reserve. Waterfalls are in the area. Classes are offered in yoga, meditation and vegetarian cooking. Visitors may also participate in the communitary labors, from gardening, goats, medicinal plants and other sustainability programs.Many adventurous travellers choose to stay at the Durika Biological Reserve. On the grounds is the Finca Aneal, an independent community of individuals committed to conservation and sustainable living. The reserve opened to tourism in 1992 and lies within the boundaries of the UNESCO's La Amistad Biosphere Reserve.
Cerro de la Muerte (Death Mountain) reaches 3,451m/11,319ft and can be seen while following the Interamericana Highway. The highest point on the steep, narrow, winding road reaches 3,330m/10,922ft, and this area is known as one of the most dangerous stretches of highway in the country since it is often shrouded in mist.The type of habitat seen here is more akin to what travellers may see in the Andes mountains of Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. The terrain is the northernmost extent of a highland shrub and tussock grass páramo habitat. Careful observers will spot several species of highland birds in the area.
Situated in the Cordillera de Talamanca, the Genesis II nature reserve is 2,360m/7,740ft above sea level. Genesis II covers 38ha/94ac, most of which is tropical montane rainforest. This type of forest features evergreen and oak species and is more commonly known as "cloud forest". The area is excellent for spotting highland bird species.Approximately 200 species of birds inhabit this region, as does the tropical red squirrel. Genesis II offers 20km/12.4mi of hiking trails; some trails better maintained than others. There is a treetop access system at the reserve, and high elevation makes for cooler weather at Genesis II.
San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica
Situated in the Savegre River valley, this small, spread out community features cloud forests, cool mountain air and excellent birding opportunities. San Gerardo de Dota lies on the western slopes of Cerro de Muerte (Death Mountain) and is known for being one of the best places in the country to spot the national bird, the quetzal.The crisp climate is good for farming plums and apples, and many families are involved in the farming profession. Apart from wildlife observation, horseback riding and fishing in the Savegre River are popular activities. Trout are abundant in the river, which is good for both fly and lure fishing.
Avalon Private Reserve
Covering 150ha/370ac of cloud forest, this nature reserve offers observation of several high-altitude bird species such as bellbirds, trogons, and quetzals. The scenic area and vistas of the mountains and the southern region of Costa Rica can be seen from hiking trails.
Neily, Costa Rica
Nicknamed "Villa" by locals, this pleasant small town is hot and humid at only 50m/164ft above sea level. The Coto Colorado valley just south of the town has many African oil-palm and banana plantations, and Neily is the commercial center of the industries. The town is a transport hub for southern Costa Rica.
Buenos Aires, Costa Rica
This small village is in the center of an important pineapple-growing region. Simple services are found in the village, which features a disco and an attractive tree-filled plaza. A few accommodations and restaurants can be found in Buenos Aires.