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TRAVEL GUIDE



About Costa Rica:

Costa Rica's country motto is "Pura Vida" or " Pure Life" because local Costa Ricans or "Ticos" are known for their love of life and are considered to be the "Happiest" people in the world according to the Happy Planet Index.This phrase is used as everything from greetings and salutations to synonyms for awesome, great and relax. Pura Vida is the law of the land and simply put, Pura Vida the Costa Rican way of life.

Costa Rica is a natural paradise with lush rain forests, active volcanoes, pristine rivers, tropical waterfalls, white sandy beaches, amazing sunsets, 20 national parks, eight biological reserves, scenic mountains and truly breathtaking beauty. Costa Rica has a land and water area of about 51,000 square kilometers and is the approximate size of West Virginia in the United States.

As one of the planets most biologically dense countries, Costa Rican tropical forests have over 500,000 species of wildlife, including 1,500 tree species and a reported 854 species of birds. It is home to four species of monkey, 2 types of sloths, armadillos, wild cats like jaguars, tapirs and hundreds of beautiful butterflies and represents close to 4.5% of the total species on Earth.

Costa Rica is a long time democratic nation and abolished their army completely in 1948. Even the smallest towns have electricity, drinkable water, telephone service, public clinics and free compulsory education through high school. Costa Rica boasts one of the highest literacy rates (96%) in the Western Hemisphere and posses a good government run health care system. Costa Ricans also accounted for the second highest life expectancy (78) of the new world and the highest life satisfaction rate in the world. It is also considered to be one of the most stable nations of Latin America, which in a large part is due to the high standard of living and quality education. Costa Rica is also on track to become the first carbon-neutral country, with 99% of the country's energy needs meet through a combination of geothermal, hydroelectric, and wind power.

San Jose, which sits in the Central Valley, is the capital and bustling economic, geographical and political center of Costa Rica. It has a very pleasant climate year-round, and is working on improving its tourism appeal.

San Jose is in the process of vast redevelopment with new, delicious restaurants, upscale hotels and other venues popping up almost daily.

Most travelers spend very little time in the Capital and choose to explore the many unique areas and different climate zones of the country including the Northern Zone, Central Valley, North Caribbean, South Caribbean, North Pacific, Central Pacific and the South Pacific, each of which are distinct and represent a variety of local micro-climates -- from the rain forests near the Arenal Volcano to the cloud forests of Monteverde, the low dry forests and deserts of Guanacaste, to the gorgeous beaches on both coasts. Let us show you our favorite parts of Costa Rica!

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Map of Costa Rica

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When to Go to Costa Rica

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Weather in Costa Rica

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Tipping, Taxes and "Tejas"

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Costa Rica Activities with Desafio Adventure Company

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I am a kayaker. Can I kayak a rafting trip?

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Costa Rica Volcanoes

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Monteverde Cloud Forests

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Which Beaches should we visit?

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When and where to see turtles and dolphins?

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Costa Rica National Parks

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Requirements to come to Costa Rica

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How to get to Costa Rica?

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Helpful Flight Tips

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General Travel Information

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Five Tips for Choosing the Best Adventure Travel Company

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Handy Tools for Travelers

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Travel Med Kit

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Where to Eat in Costa Rica?

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Secret Recipes for Our Famous Home-Cooked Meals


Desafio Logo Map of Costa Rica

Map of Costa Rica


Desafio Logo When to Go to Costa Rica

Any time is a great time to visit Costa Rica! Just remember that Costa Rica is a tropical country with a wide-variety of micro-climates so you are bound to find experience a wide-array of weather conditions while you are here -- from hot and sunny to chilly, misty and rainy. Late December to mid-April is typically considered the dry season, but also the most-crowded and expensive time to visit Costa Rica. The rainy season means there are occasional afternoon tropical showers, but since many of the activities you can enjoy in Costa Rica involve getting wet - like whitewater rafting, canyoneering, etc. - it's even more fun doing these activities in the warm tropical rain!!

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Desafio Logo Weather in Costa Rica:

Weather near the Arenal Volcano and throughout Costa Rica is pretty consistent throughout the year. It's rather hot and tropical with an occasional cold front form the north from time to time. We experience the weather phenomena of "El Nino" and "La Nina" and tend to have rainier weather during "El Nino" meanwhile the other side of world like Australia is experiencing "La Nina" and drought conditions. As long as you have sunscreen and rain gear, you're all set to travel in Costa Rica!

Here's 2014's monthly temperature averages near the Arenal Volcano:

Month

High

Low

Apr

83F

65F

May

81F

65F

Jun

80F

65F

Jul

80F

65F

Aug

80F

64F

Sep

79F

63F

Oct

78F

62F

Nov

80F

64F

Dec

80F

65F

Jan

80F

64F

Feb

82F

66F

Mar

80F

64F

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Desafio LogoTipping, Taxes and "Tejas"

One of the many questions people have before coming to Costa Rica is "Can I use US dollars in Costa Rica?" Yes, you can. You will be able to use your greenbacks pretty much anywhere, although $100 bills are sometimes not accepted in smaller businesses like corner stores, etc. It's better to bring mostly dollar bills, fives, tens and 20s and you will receive change in Costa Rican colones.

The exchange rate for Costa Rican currency is generally 500 colones to the US dollar. A good way that I use to do the calculation is multiplying the cost of an item by "2" and removing 3 "zeros." So, if you're buying a bottle of water for 1,000 colones, multiply by 2 and take off the zeros -- the bottle of water costs $2.00.

And for history buffs, the word colones comes from Christopher Columbus who first discovered the Limon area of the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica (the Spanish translation of Christopher Columbus is Cristobál Colón.) And you may hear the slang word "Tejas" when referring to money -- this is the term for 100 colones. So "cinco tejas" is 500 colones. You may also hear the term "un rojo" for 1,000 colones because the color of the 1,000 colones bill is red and "un tucán" referring to the 5,000 colón-note because there is a toucan on the bill.

And now for tipping in Costa Rica. Small bills are better to have while tipping individual guides (such as raft guides, naturalist guides, etc.) There is no defined amount for tipping and guides from Desafío have very competitive salaries and we give them all of the benefits according to Costa Rican law such as health insurance and vacation pay. However, if you think your driver or guide did an exceptional job, they always appreciate getting a few dollar tip for their service.

In addition, all restaurants in Costa Rica add on an obligatory 10% service tax which is used as the tip for the wait staff, so it is not necessary to add on a tip to your restaurant bill, unless you felt you received service that was above and beyond the norm.

Credit cards such as VISA, MasterCard and AmEx are accepted in just about every location (restaurants, super markets, hotels, etc.) There are ATMs in the major tourism destinations where you can receive dollars or Costa Rican colones, but you will likely be charged an international bank fee for the use of your credit and debit cards.

Costa Rica charges a $29.00 per person departure tax at the airport when you leave the country. You can pay in US Dollars, Colones or credit card (again there may be fees when using a credit card).


Desafio Logo Costa Rica Activities with Desafio Adventure Company

Desafio Adventure Company is a one-stop-shop for adventure with several centers of operation throughout Costa Rica, including the Arenal Volcano, Monteverde, Playa Samara, Guanacaste and San Jose. We operate a wide-range of our own activities such as whitewater rafting, kayaking, canyoneering, horseback riding, hiking, biking, guided bird-tours, hot springs, stand up paddling, snorkeling and boating tours. We work with other excellent, high-quality outfitters throughout the country to get you set up for activities such as zip line tours, scuba diving, fishing, surfing, and much more. Top


Desafio Logo I am a kayaker, can I kayak a rafting trip?

We typically do not allow kayakers to kayak alone as part of our normal rafting tours because unfortunately we've had situations where kayakers have claimed to be capable of running our rivers, but they find our rivers are very different than what they are used to. Our rivers are very continuous with steep gradients and limited eddies and are very technical. Some visiting kayakers have had problems navigating safely.

For that reason, we have to be rather strict about whom we permit to kayak with us during a rafting trip. We would appreciate if you come to our office the day before the tour (hopefully before 8:30am or between 4pm and 5pm) when our head guide for our river operations is available.

He will give you an evaluation about your skills and abilities and tell you about the river. If he believes he will be able to handle you on the trip (i.e. if we have enough space and perhaps an extra kayaker to keep an eye on you) we will confirm you for the trip and try to fit you for a kayak, if there is one available.

On another note, equipment is very expensive to acquire down here, so we do not have many kayaks available, nor spray skirts and paddles. It's much better if you bring your own.

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Desafio Logo Costa Rica Volcanoes

There are so many fascinating things to visit in Costa Rica, but don't miss out on getting up close and personal with at least one of Costa Rica's volcanoes during your vacation.

Costa Rica has three mountain ranges that dissect the country creating its own "ring of fire" with over 100 volcanic cones, eight of which are considered Costa Rica's major volcanoes: Arenal, Poas, Orosi, Irazu, Turrialba, Miravalles, Tenorio and Rincon de la Vieja.

The Arenal Volcano is one of most-iconic volcanoes in the world and a popular destination for adventure travelers for rafting, hiking, canyoning, biking and much more. The Arenal Volcano area also offers amazing geothermal hot springs at many of the local resorts and hotels nearby.

Another important stop on your Costa Rica volcano-visiting vacation is the Poas Volcano National Park -- home to one of the largest volcanic crater lakes in the world. Our Adventure Connection will take you on a and easy-going hike to this spectacular volcano, as well as see the sites near by such as a coffee plantation and the famous La Paz Waterfall!

The Orosi and Irazu Volcanoes can also be spotted as day-tours from San Jose. The Orosi Volcano is near the colonial town of Cartago and has a few steamy thermal resorts tucked away near the lush national reserve of Tapanti. The Irazu Volcano has a remarkable emerald-green crater lagoon. The Turrialba Volcano area is one of the biggest comeback stories for Costa Rican tourism. This Turrialba region used to be THE place to visit for rafting over 20 years ago due to its proximity to the Pacuare River. The Turrialba Volcano has recently been giving off impressive rumbles, making it on to the volcano-viewer's vacation radar once again!

When you're in the Guanacaste area, you'll spot the majestic Miravalles and Tenorio Volcanoes off in the distance. The Miravalles Volcano is an important source of geothermic electricity for Costa Rica and also feeds a series of its own hot springs resorts nearby. And if you're looking for a volcano that reminds you of Yellowstone in the United States, then Rincon de la Vieja in Guanacaste will astound you! Rincon de la Vieja is located in the northwestern part of Guanacaste and is made up of a series of 9 eruptive craters along the ridge. If youɽ like to hike here, be sure to check in with the Rincon de la Vieja National Park Rangers. This Costa Rican volcano has colorful sulfur geysers and lava mud pools - you'll feel like you're hiking on the moon surrounded by such out-of-this-world geological features.

The highest point in Costa Rica is not in fact a volcano, but a mountain called Cerro Chirripo, which rises to a chilly 3,810 meters above sea level (12,500 ft).

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Desafio Logo Cloud Forests of Costa Rica

One of Costa Rica's most-popular tourist destinations is Monteverde. The origin of Monteverde's tourist fame is the pristine cloud forest, home to the Resplendent Quetzal and Bellbird and hundreds of other birds, mammals and plant species. Trees are heavy with bromeliads, orchids, hanging moss and vines, characteristic of the dense, rainy climate found there.

For your convenience, Desafio Adventure Company has an office in Monteverde to help organize tours to the Monteverde Reserve or Santa Elena Reserve, as well as canopy tours, hanging bridges over the treetops, coffee tours, gallery exhibits, and much more!

But Monteverde is not the only place in Costa Rica to find what we call "horizontal rain." There are cloud forests in the mountains above the town of San Ramon called the Los Angeles Cloud Forest home to the hotel Villa Blanca, as well as in San Gerardo de Dota in the South-Central region of Costa Rica.

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Desafio Logo Which Beaches should we visit?

Costa Rica, as its name implies, has some of the most-beautiful coastline in the world. There is almost 800 miles of beaches to choose from! Costa Rica's beaches are perfect for swimming, surfing, stand up paddling, kayaking or relaxing with a pina colada in hand and much more. Both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts have a mixture of luxury beach side resorts in popular tourist zones to the more, obscure, Robinson Crusoe-style lodges on deserted beaches.

Many people ask us what our favorite beaches are. Hands-down we like Playa Samara on the Pacific Coast. Playa Samara is famous for its beautiful, white sandy beaches, romantic sunsets, active local community and laid-back "old fishing village" feeling.

However, many people like Manuel Antonio, Tamarindo, Montezuma, Jaco and other beaches on the Pacific side and places like Tortuguero and Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean side.

Let us help you out, should you have any questions!

Here's a photo of the pristine and beautiful Playa Carrillo beach:


Playa Carrillo
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Desafio Logo When and where to see turtles and dolphins?

For us, one of the best places to see turtles is on the Pacific Coast at Camaronal or Ostional Reserves. If you stay in the Playa Samara area, here's a list of the turtles you will be most-likely to see - and keep an eye out on our FaceBook page when we announce an "arribada" or mass arrival of turtles to one of those beaches:

OLIVE RIDLEY TURTLE (Lepidochelys olivacea)

Size: his is the smallest species, adults only 70cm long.
Weight: 40-50 Kg.
Average eggs per nest: 110
General Characteristics: Almost round body with 5 to 9 lateral scutes, dark green color, with two pairs of prefrontal scales and two claws in each forelimb. In Costa Rica, it nests along the pacific Coast, mainly from July to February. At Ostional and Nancite beaches massive nesting (arribadas) of this species occurs, where even more than 100,000 females can nest in one single night; for about 2 to 5 nights each month.

LOGGERHEAD TURTLE (Caretta caretta)

Size: Adults 120 cm long.
Weight: 180 kg.
Average eggs per nest: 112
General Characteristics: The head looks big, proportional to the rest of the body, giving it the common name of big-headed turtle in Costa Rica. Reddish-brown carapace with 5 lateral scutes, plastron is creme colored. A few nests have been documented in the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica between the months of May and August.

HAWKSBILL TURTLE (Eretmochelys imbricata)

SIZE: Adults 80 cm long.
Average eggs per nest: 155
General Characteristics: The common name comes from the mouth which looks like the bill of a hawk. The end of the carapace is serrated and the plates of the carapace are imbricated. It has 2 pairs of prefrontal scales. This is one of the most exploited species by humans. They are captured for their meat, eggs, skin, but mainly for their shell, which is used to produce jewelry and other products like combs and frames for glasses. In Costa Rica it nests mainly in the Caribbean (although also in the Pacific) coast between the months of May and November.

GREEN TURTLE (Chelonia mydas)

Size: Adults 100 to 140 cm long.
Average eggs per nest: 110
General Characteristics: Oval body with variable color and four lateral scutes. One pair of prefrontal scales. In Costa Rica it nests mainly from June to October, constituting the largest nesting colony of the Atlantic coast.

LEATHERBACK TURTLE (Dermochelys coriacea)

Size: It can get to be 2m long
Weight: Up to 600 kg .
Average eggs per nest: 110
General Characteristics: Dark blue color with white spots. Hind limbs very elongated.
In Costa Rica this species nests on both coasts; on the Caribbean side they nest between March and July along most of the coast. On the Pacific side they nest between September and March, mainly in Playa Grande.

Our SEAFARI DOLPHIN tour at Playa Samara is available all year and chances are good you will see a vivacious Bottle-Nosed Dolphin or more as they play around our Samara Explorer catamaran boat. And sometimes Humpback whales are en route from the North Pacific and can be spotted of the coast between December to April.

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Desafio Logo Costa Rica National Parks

Costa Rica is famous for its world-class national park system. There are approximately three dozen natural areas composed of national parks, biological reserves, wildlife refuges, monuments and recreational zones. Following are a few you may want to consider visiting on your vacation in Costa Rica:

Arenal National Park - This park has both cloud forest and premontane tropical forest. The giant volcano was recently active and rumbled and erupted with spectacular displays of vapor and lava. It is now dormant, but a beautiful sight to see looming over the town of La Fortuna.

Corcovado National Park - Puntarenas Province on Osa Peninsula - Pacific tropical rainforest - a wonderland of virgin rainforest, unspoiled beaches, jungle-thick riverbanks and exotic wildlife. Home to many large mammals, the jaguar, tapir, ocelot, peccaries, crocodiles, scarlet macaws and giant anteaters. Conditions are hot and humid and considered the "last-frontier" of Costa Rica with a series of luxurious eco-lodges available.

Guanacaste National Park - Guanacaste Province - Ranges widely from tropical dry forest to cloud forest. Large felines as well as 300 species of birds and 5000 species of butterflies.

Manuel Antonio National Park - Puntarenas Province - south of San Jose and Quepos - Beautiful land with palm lined beaches and titi monkeys - almost a quarter million travelers a year - endangered squirrel monkeys.

Tortuguero National Park - Limon Province on Caribbean coast north of Limon - Tropical lowland park lying across a system of natural lakes - Accessible only by boat.

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Desafio Logo Requirements to Enter Costa Rica

A passport is required for entrance Costa Rica. Visas are not required for U.S. or Canadian citizens. No immunizations are currently required nor recommended. Citizens of other countries should consult the Costa Rican consulate in their country for entry requirements

Get in touch with us today and start making reservations for the most-thrilling vacation of a lifetime in this tropical paradise of Costa Rica!

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Desafio Logo How to Get to Costa Rica?

We have two international airports in Costa Rica: Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose (SJO) or Liberia (LIR) on the Pacific coast of Guanacaste. Both are centrally-located and equidistant to the Arenal Volcano.

The following airlines currently fly to Costa Rica from the United States:

Frontier Airlines

American Airlines Daily flights from Los Angeles, Miami, JFK in New York, and Dallas-Fort Worth.

America West Daily direct flight from Phoenix.

Continental Flights daily from Houston and Newark.

Delta Two daily flights from Atlanta.

United Airlines Daily flights direct from Washington, D.C., and from Los Angeles, and biweekly flights from Chicago O'Hare to Liberia.

US Airways Direct flights from Charlotte, S.C.

Grupo Taca Direct flights or connections to and from Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, New Orleans, New York, Miami, and Washington.

Spirit Airlines Flights to San Jose Costa Rica

JetBlue Flights to San Jose and Liberia Costa Rica

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Desafio Logo Helpful Flight Tips

We would like to give you some helpful hints on how to handle a possible change in your flight so you don't miss out on your fun a and exciting trip to Costa Rica to visit us.

In general, airlines try to accommodate bumped passengers with compatible schedules. Airline computers automatically reroute clients and/or will offer refunds if necessary.

Considering so many flight cancellations, most travelers still don't realize their flights may not be waiting for them at the airport and should should be prepared. Here are some helpful tips:

  1. Call ahead to your airline to confirm your flight and come to the airport early. Bring your printed itinerary, reservation code and keep your cellular phone charged.
  2. Know your rights. Read the airline's " Contract of Carriage" policy. Copies are usually available online or at the ticket counter.
  3. Make sure you have an assigned seat. If not, you will likely be a candidate for not getting on the flight.
  4. Get to know alternative routes. For example, for flights from the United States on American Airlines to Costa Rica, clients can get routed through Dallas, Miami or L.A. Try to be flexible in case you get bumped and it's easier if you present itinerary options to your ticketing agent.
  5. In case you loose your bags, it's a good idea to have a basic change of clothes in your carry on. If not, there are many affordable shopping opportunities in Costa Rica and airlines have been excellent in getting client luggage to your exact location within the first couple of days of your vacation. Plus Desafio has offices in La Fortuna and Monteverde and can easily help you get your luggage fast and efficiently.

Check out great flight options with the airlines above and we'll take care of you from there -- we'll pick you up at the airport and show you an excellent time on your vacation in Costa Rica!

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Desafio Logo General Travel Information

See how your currency is doing against the Costa Rican colones before coming to Costa Rica. Most places will take US dollars, but they often don't have much change, so smaller bills are best (most establishments will not take $100 bills.) It is a good idea to get some colones (the local currency), just in case.

By law, businesses in Costa Rica are not allowed to charge extra if you use a credit card but they sometimes will give a discount if you pay in cash. We recommend you get colones once you are here.

Most places here will give you your change in colones when you pay in dollars so that is one way to get colones. If need be, you can also go to an ATM (most ATMs will let you choose colones or dollars). Please keep in mind, however, that your bank may charge you extra for ATM withdrawals in Costa Rica so check with them first to see how much it would be.

If you want, the driver who brings you from the airport to La Fortuna on the day you arrive can stop at a cash machine along the way. You can also bring travelers checks but usually banks are the only place you can cash them which in most cases means standing in line for a long time, so they are probably not your best choice.


How's the Weather in Costa Rica?:
Want to see how beautiful the weather is here in Costa Rica? We tend to have a lot of what we call "liquid sunshine" -- light tropical rain showers in the afternoons, but for most of our adventures like rafting and canyoneering, you get wet anyway so the rain is not a problem. We like to know if there are any storms brewing and have the following weather website bookmarked, in case, you, too would like to be an amateur weather forecaster, just like us! Weather.com

Learn Spanish:
Get a jump start on learning Spanish before coming to Costa Rica. Spanish is the official language of Costa Rica, but we have a highly-educated public and the majority of the people working in tourism have a good level of English. But it's also great to practice your Spanish while you're here! If you would like to take Spanish lessons in an immersed, homestay environment, we recommend Intercultura in Samara.

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Desafio Logo Five Tips for Choosing the Best Adventure Travel Company

Planning a trip to a foreign country can be very daunting and adventure travel is one of the fastest-growing segments of the travel industry. Many more tourists are exploring exotic regions such as jungles, going mountain climbing and bungee jumping and much more! Adventure travel companies help tourists go on physical excursions, have cultural interactions and commune with nature.



Tourists who want make the most out of their trip should seek outfitters that will be able to provide itineraries that are both fun and safe. If you plan to do adventure activities along the way, we recommend the following advice for this important process:
1) Research if the travel company has proper government accreditations and insurance
2) Learn more about the geography and other aspects of your travel destination
3) Set a budget and compare the special offers and vacation packages offered


We look forward to helping you plan your adventure vacation to Costa Rica!



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Desafio Logo Handy Tools for Travelers

Trip Advisor Logo is one of the internet's handiest tools for the best inside info on travel.
Foodors Choice Travel Experiences.
Frommers Travel Experts.
ICT No Artificial Ingredients, The official site of Costa Rica.
Living abroad in Costa Rica The author of Living Abroad in Costa Rica, Erin Van Rheenen began her career as a serial relocater at age three, when her parents moved the family from Portland, Oregon, to Lagos, Nigeria. www.LivingAbroadinCostaRica.com.
Lonely Planet The world's best guidebooks, travel advice and information.

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Desafio Logo The Essential Travel Med Kit When Visiting Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a very safe country to visit. There is reasonably very little crime and if you decide to do adventure activities, Costa Rica is famous for having responsible and safe outfitters. However, you just never know when you might scrape your knee, get a mosquito bite or more. It is always best to be prepared. You can find the following items at any pharmacy in Costa Rica, but you might want to come prepared before you come:
Prepackaged antiseptic towelettes, bandages, and topical antibiotics. The more you're out and about, the more likely you are to get a few scrapes. There's no sense letting a minor scratch develop into a major infection, especially if you're traveling to a remote area.
Flashlight. Although not necessarily a medical supply, a flashlight is necessary for many situations, from unlighted city streets to midnight trips to the bathroom in jungle resorts that run on generators.
Pepto-Bismol and Imodium. Rich food or bad food can give you stomach troubles. Plan for them by bringing these tablets along.
Moleskin. Although not lifesaving, this adhesive padding can be the key to preventing the activity-limiting blisters that are likely to develop as you trek from site to site.
Sunscreen. A sunburn is not only annoying but also cancer-causing. It can also hamper your skin's ability to perspire, which is essential for preventing your body from overheating in hot climates.
Motion-sickness remedies. Dramamine tablets and Scopamine patches can relieve a lot of discomfort if the boat crossing is rougher than expected or the bus ride is wickedly bumpy.
Thermometer in a sturdy case. The best way to assess whether you have an infection needing a doctor's care is to take your temperature to see if you have a fever.
Pain relievers. Such pain relievers as Ibuprofen (Tylenol or Advil) can come in handy for treating headaches, joint pain, and fever.
Hydrocortisone 1% ointment or cream. The alien bacteria you may encounter when you go swimming in the sea or other natural bodies of water can trigger itching or a rash, which this cream can counter. It can also help relieve those unbearable symptoms of a poison ivy rash.
Allergy medicine. If you are an allergy sufferer, take along some antihistamines: your allergies may not be acting up at home prior to departure, but changes in altitude and a different climate at your destination may trigger even an occasional allergy. Of course, if you have food allergies, reactions to bee stings, or other specific conditions requiring medications, make sure you have an ample supply before you hit the road.
Special ointments. If you are a woman prone to yeast infections, over-the-counter creams for these infections, such as Monistat, should also be in your medical kit. And if you are a person who suffers from athlete's foot or jock itch, don't forget an antifungal cream.
Repellents. A mosquito repellent containing DEET (N,N-diethylmetatoluamide) is especially critical if you are traveling to tropical areas where malaria, yellow fever, dengue, and other mosquito-borne diseases are likely to lurk. Skin-So-Soft and Naturapel are two DEET-free repellants for areas without malaria. Depending upon your lodging conditions, you may want to bring mosquito coils and a mosquito net for sleeping; you could even take it a step further and have the netting dipped in insecticide.
Condoms. These can be lifesaving, no matter where you travel -- and they may not be available everywhere.

Also remember to take stock of your health. Get a checkup, discuss your travel plans with your doctor, and look into your last batch of shots, including your MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella immunization) and tetanus. Make a list of any medical issues that might affect your plans, anything from serious conditions like asthma and high blood pressure to minor complaints like tennis elbow or foot calluses. Create a "health" checklist with such things as medications, ice packs, and so on. Iron out ways to cope with your health needs on the road, like having your prescriptions called into a pharmacy in your destination.

Consult a travel-medicine expert. These doctors know all about things like which vaccinations are truly necessary for a given trip and which antimalarial drug is best for a given destination. They can also advise you on items to pack in a travel medical kit. The International Society of Travel Medicine has a list of practitioners and clinics around the world.

Finally, every traveler should create a Traveler Kit which with two clear vinyl zipper bags, alcohol hand sanitizer, Imodium, Neosporin, duct tape, tissue paper in TSA-approved sizes.

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Desafio Logo Where to Eat in Costa Rica?

After you finish a tour with Desafio Adventure Company and eat one of our yummy meals in the Desafio Lost Canyon Cafe, you'll be longing for more!!

Costa Rica is perhaps not known for its gourmet cuisine, but we do have delicious, excellent, all-natural foods here and some fun, cheap eats.

Here is our list of Top Eats you may want to keep in mind when you come visit us in Costa Rica - be sure to let us know if you find some new and delicious places to eat:

Top Eats in Costa Rica:

  • Cafe Mediterraneo in La Fortuna
  • Soda Viquez in La Fortuna
  • Benedictus Steak House in La Fortuna
  • Coco's Mexican Restaurant in Playa Samara
  • El Lagarto in Playa Samara
  • Tin Jo in San Jose
  • Taj Mahal in San Jose
  • Lola's in Playa Negra
  • Bread & Chocolate in Puerto Viejo
  • KOKi Beach in Puerto Viejo

If you have a group and would like to schedule an additional meal at one of our Desafio lunch locations, please let us know! If you would like us to create an itinerary with all meals included,please let us know and we can help organize your meal plan included.Otherwise, it's part of the adventure to go out and explore new and

interesting places to try different cuisine in Costa Rica.

Good eating!! No artificial ingredients COSTA RICA!

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Money Matters

Costa Rica is fairly "dollarized" roughly 500 colones to the US$1. You can use dollars anyplace. I recommend making your first pyrchase at one of our little grocery stores called pulperías and they will likely give you back change in colones and often in US (except US coins.) Many places won't take big bills like $50s and $100s so better to have $20s. You can use your credit card and debit card in most places and ATMs abound, just be sure to tell your bank first you'll be in Costa Rica (the ATMs and your own bank will likely charge a fee for taking out money.) So, a good way to think of it is take a $20 and it's worth about the same as a Costa Rican green 10,000 colones bank note. A $10 is a little smaller yellow 5,000 colones bank note. $4 is our blue 2,000 colones note. $2 dollar is a red 1,000. And $1 is a big 500 colones coin (a little larger in size than a quarter.) You'll get used to it. A Costa Rican beer? About 1,000 colones! A delicious cup of Costa Rican coffee? Generally free or about 500 colones.

Desafio Logo Secret Recipes for Our Famous Home-Cooked Meals

One of the many things that sets Desafio Adventure Company apart is our attention to detail for our home-cooked meals. We strive to only use the freshest ingredients right from our garden and our cooks have been trained to incorporate healthy cooking techniques for all of our delicious meals.

We go beyond the usual "Casado" (Married Meal,) the usual rice and beans and a choice of meat and Gallo Pinto (beans and rice instead of rice and beans!)

You might have a chance to try the following yummy recipes after a fun day of rafting or canyoneering with us or maybe try these secret recipes at home, too!:

Famous Picadillo de Platano
(Zesty Plantain Appetizer)

What you'll need:

Bananas
  • 2 medium-sized green plantains diced into cubes
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 medium onion minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup red bell pepper diced
  • 5 medium sized mushrooms, diced
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 small tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons Costa Rica "Salsa Lizano" (if you can't find it back home, you can almost get a similar flavor with 3 tablespoons fresh tamarindo and dash of soy sauce) salt & pepper to taste

Here's how to make it:
Green plantain: Be sure that the green plantains have been refrigerated overnight to make them easier to peel. To peel them, cut it along one side lengthwise. Loosen the skin with the knife. Using your thumb, peel the skin off. Dice the plantains into cubes. Let them soak while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Add the onions, garlic peppers and cilantro in a large saute pan at medium heat. Saute for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the blended tomatoes, Salsa Lizano, plantains (drained) and salt/pepper.

Stir this until the plantains are well-seasoned. Add the mushrooms and 1 cup of water. Cook covered over low or medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. This healthy appetizer serves 4.


Here is the menu and recipes for the delicious foods we serve on our Lost Canyon Adventures canyoneering tours. Hope you enjoy them and that you'll try to make them yourself when you return home! Happy eating!

Black Beans Cabbage Salad Chicken in Sauce Gallo Pinto
Picadillo Pico de Gallo White Rice Yuca

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