Costa Rica Travel Information
Costa Rica is located in Central America, bordered on the north by Nicaragua and Panama to the south. The Pacific Ocean bathes the west coast and the east by the Caribbean coast. Most of the population calls home within its borders with several mountain ranges and a broad central valley. It is a relatively small country at less than 51,000 square kilometers. Numerous mountain ranges usually run N.W S. E. The most important are: the central, Talamanca, Tilarán, and Guanacaste. It is this contrast between the mountains and the beach that gives Costa Rica it is numerous and varied.
The wet season is also known as the green season (which sounds a little better), and the dry season is also called summer, as Costa Rica is north of Ecuador is merely wrong! The dry season is precisely what it says it is, but the rainy season is not necessary to deter visitors too; The rains can be substantial, but they are usually only short-lived and typically arrive at the same time every day.
In San Jose, for example, mornings generally are lovely, with the cloud coming early in the afternoon. An hour or so of heavy rain, usually accompanied by thunderstorms, is followed by brightening skies and dry nights.
Driving in Costa Rica
Driving in Costa Rica is not for the faint of heart. It has one of the highest rates in the world of accidents, and watching the traffic whiz around San Jose for a few minutes will show you why.
Most drivers pay little or no attention to the rules of the road, and many seem to have adopted their own standards. Stoplights hang over the center of the road, but many drivers seem to believe that they are leftover Christmas decorations, and rarely do buses, taxis, and motorcycles apply.
Drivers may change lanes without warning and usually without any signaling. Unique in the world, it is quite common to join a roundabout in the left lane to turn right, especially if the left lane has a shorter tail, and of course, the opposite is also exact.
There are many one-way streets in the capital, and while downtown San Jose is generally respected, these are only a few blocks subject to local interpretation. Indeed, there are roads where most traffic goes down the wrong path.
The only way to survive this is to drive defensively. If you leave a gap of more than a few inches of distance between you and the car in front, someone will fill it, but it is safer to put up with this. They are frustrated because the driver can before doing several different things: They stop, park, turn, or slower to respond to your cell phone, and this is almost certain to be without the use of signals.
And a final word of warning signs, traffic information, and route signs are few and far between.
And where they did exist, they were usually right at the junction (instead of giving any warning) so that traffic moves from left or right at the last moment. Potholes are common, and some are impressive. Drivers swerve to miss the worst of them, adding to the unpredictability of the driver ahead.
On the outskirts of San José, driving is a little more civilized, but the road quality may vary. Always allow enough time for any trip, such as very short routes shown on the map may take a long time, especially if you are stuck behind a long line of trucks moving very slowly. Overtaking opportunities are few and far between, but please do not be tempted to follow the example of local drivers and overtake on blind corners.
Warnings about driving in Costa Rica can be fun, and there are many car rental companies. Do not try to get a good road map (confusing) and ask about the planned route.
As mentioned above, the distances of a few inches on the map can last from a few minutes to a few hours. Having a rental car allows you to set your own pace, gives you access to many places that are off the beaten track, and will enable you to enjoy some of the most beautiful views anywhere in the world. A final warning; use a car rental company reputed to reserve your car. If in doubt, consult.
Visitors require no vaccines (vaccines) from North America or Europe, but it is always better to be up to date with their vaccinations before traveling to a foreign country. Tap water is safe in all areas, but if you have a delicate constitution, you may want to stick to bottled water when outside of the main areas of the city.
Health services in Costa Rica are generally of a very high standard, and many private hospitals in the Central Valley offer world-class services. Costa Rica is quickly gaining a reputation as a destination for dental surgery and aesthetics, as costs are significantly cheaper than elsewhere.
Most of these services are of excellent quality and value, but always worth being careful in the selection. We have excellent contacts in the dental field and are willing to investigate any plastic surgeon you are considering.
If you head to the jungle areas, especially on the Caribbean side, it is a wise precaution to have an effective insect repellent. Mosquito bites are uncomfortable and sporadic cases of malaria and dengue.
The electrical system in use in Costa Rica is 110v and uses two end caps. In general, electrical supplies are right, but there are areas (Quepos Manuel Antonio, in particular) where demand far exceeds the amount, leading to frequent power cuts.
Currency and credit cards
The local currency is the colon, although usually only be heard in plural: colones. In September 2018, the exchange rate was around ¢ 570.00 colones per US dollar. The notes come in 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 and 10,000, 20,000, and 50,000 new denominations.
The dollars are widely accepted, but not universally, and are the best in smaller denominations. Many places refuse $ 50 and $ 100 bills. It is easy to exchange some for the local currency at any bank, and exchange rates are usually very competitive.
Avoid change at the airport in San Jose, where rates are not as good. You will need your passport to complete the transaction. Many banks are announcing the euro exchange rates but may have little experience with them. Other currencies will be challenging to change and may require a visit to the bank branch manager.
Master Cards and visas are widely accepted but note that banks in Costa Rica charge high processing fees. Some stores have an additional fee of between 3% and 5% for using a credit card charge, so it is usually worth a visit to the machine’s local ATM before leaving the hotel.
Moreover, the book by Samantha Tours where no fee credit card charged. In smaller stores, it is often easy to negotiate a discount for cash payments. This is not a problem of the “black economy,” only high bank charges.
With 25% of the national territory protected as national parkland, combined with its various microclimates, Costa Rica has an incredible variety of mammals, birds, insects, and plants that offer its visitors.
The term ecotourism is efficiently used but very difficult to define. In its most general sense, it describes tourism that takes visitors to an area to enjoy the natural beauty of the field while having little or no impact on the environment.
Easier said than done! Traditionally most hotels in Costa Rica are pretty small, with 10 to 30 rooms. For these destinations, it is relatively easy to maintain a low impact on the environment while providing guests with all the amenities expected in a modern hotel.
In recent years there has been rapid growth in the tourism sector, and at peak times, there is nearly 100% occupancy. This has been addressed by building many large hotel complexes focused on the northern beaches of Guanacaste.
These complexes are independent and primarily all-inclusive, so the benefit to local communities is minimal. There is also growing concern about the impact these hotels have on local water resources, and waste disposal of these hotels may be less than perfect.
Local health boards have recently been active in action against hotels with waste disposal standards. They have taken the unprecedented step of closing a significant hotel until the necessary improvements are completed.
For more ecotourism, we at Samantha Tours offer community-based vacation packages; small groups of people organize these (often women’s groups) to give visitors a vacation where they will learn about the community and give something back to the community.
We have recently launched tour packages where guests can stay with local Indian families in India Talamanca Reserve. We at Samantha Tours hotels try to promote environmentally friendly.
Costa Rica is home to some 850 species of birds, more than North America. You will probably see some different species during their stay without making any serious effort. Still, for those interested in learning more, there are several tours available with experienced guides who will help you to see many more birds than they would alone.
It would be impossible to list all types of birds that can be seen, but to whet your appetite is a selection of the most common or most important species. Near the water, with a large selection of frigates, pelicans, cormorants, darters herons, egrets, spoonbills, ibis, storks, sandpipers, Jacanas, and a variety of ducks and gulls.
There are also six varieties of kingfishers and several momotos a close relatives. Parrots, macaws, toucans, and parakeets can all be found. Birds of prey are represented by owls, osprey, kites, hawks, owls, hawks, and eagles. There are many types of vultures often seen by the roadside.
And finally, the quetzal, although challenging to achieve, can be found in the higher elevations of the Cordillera de Talamanca, Monteverde, and Braulio Carrillo National Pak.
Costa Rica occupies part of the narrow strip of land between North and South America. He is fortunate to have a fantastic variety of mammals, including o opossums, anteaters, sloths, armadillos, four species of monkeys, raccoons, coatis, peccaries mantillas (known as javelins in the US), deer, tapirs, agoutis, and bales. Rarely seen by visitors (or locals, for that matter) are a series of big cats such as jaguars, ocelots, ocelots, pumas, ocelots, and jaguars. There are over 100 species of bats in Costa Rica. They can be seen and heard across the country from the deserted gardens in the city center islands.
Crime and safety
Costa Rica is one of the safest counties in Central and South America, but the crime rate is alarmingly high and growing yearly. Most of these are crimes of opportunity or pickpockets, and violent crime remains a minority. As a visitor, it stands out from the local population and therefore is a target. There is a common belief that all tourists should be wealthy. Here are some safety tips: Leave your passport and other valuables in the hotel safe.
Many hotels photocopy passports for you, and you should take the photograph page and the page that contains the entry stamp with you at all times. You are only likely to need your full passport when the currency is changed in a bank or rent a car. If you’re renting a car, always lock it and not leave valuables in the car (or, if necessary, leave them out of sight).
Always park in a lot or an area with a “vigilante.” These guards will take care of your car for a couple of hundred colones per hour. Avoid wearing expensive jewelry when walking around San Jose. In San Jose, in particular, there are some areas where you should not walk around at night. Use a taxi, which is plentiful and cheap.
Please note that the licensed taxis are all yellow triangles and must have a working meter (Maria in Spanish). If in doubt, ask the driver to “put the maria, please.” If he says he’s not running for a quote before you start your trip. Carry only the amount of cash as their expected use and distribute it in different pockets.