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Costa Rica: Beauty and Variety

Costa Rica may look small, but it conceals mysterious cloud forests, quiet beaches and extraordinary wildlife. Take a trip to its most remarkable destinations with Carolina A. Miranda in this excerpt from Lonely Planet Traveller.

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca: best for food

The cuisine of Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast mixes island spice with Central American heartiness. One of the most beloved dishes is the steamy soup rondón, an exquisite coconut milk concoction studded with cassava, green bananas, fish and shrimp, and laced with blazing Scotch bonnet chilli peppers. Puerto Viejo has grown into a popular seaside destination, but the area holds on to its roots. Taste the Caribbean at Restaurante Elena Brown, on the eastern road out of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.

La Fortuna: best for adventure

For centuries, no-one in La Fortuna knew that a volcano loomed over their town. Farmers who lived in the area referred to the towering peak simply as Cerro Arenal – Arenal Hill. The misnomer didn’t become apparent until the ‘hill’ suddenly rumbled into life.

When Arenal began putting on its regular pyrotechnic displays in the late 1960s, the area drew the attention of international volcanologists as well as thrill-seeking travellers. Seeing lava flows today depends on the volcano’s daily moods, and a lack of clouds around the summit. However, Arenal’s activities have also turned La Fortuna into a centre for outdoor adventure, with trails that range from wheelchair-friendly to a four-hour hike up to the crater lake of Arenal’s dormant neighbour, Volcán Chato.

To the east, the churning rapids of the Balsa and Toro Rivers deliver heartpumping white-water rafting. To the south, in a narrow mountain canyon, hikers abseil down cliffs and waterfalls, and to the west, visitors soak away aches and pains earned in more energetic pursuits in a series of steamy hot springs…

Read more: Lonely Planet

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