Tuesday, March 29, 2005

National Park Cahuita: natural paradise

The Cahuita National Park, located in the Caribbean area of the country, became one of the most important natural paradises in the world.

Inside this national park one of the most important biological corridors in the country highlights.
Also, Cahuita has one from the most important coralline reefs to world level.

But, the natural scenario of Cahuita doesn't finish there, because few kilometers later are Puerto Vargas, a beach of white sand, where the tourist besides delighting of the climate that characterizes the Caribbean enjoys a place full with tranquility.

This Park National, with more than 100 hectares of virgin forest, has tours organized by the same neighbors of Cahuita who invite the tourists to know one of the most beautiful natural sanctuaries in the country while offering the best prices.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Costa Rica's Indie Circuit

Central America's hottest eco-ticket—for less.

By Cliff Ransom

You won't be half an hour in Costa Rica before you hear someone say, "Pura vida."
To Ticos, as Costa Ricans call themselves, the expression is "hello," "good-bye," and "I'm fine" all in one. It also sums up the country's biological diversity: In an area the size of West Virginia, Costa Rica houses an outlandish proportion of the world's plant and animal species.

WHAT TO DO

The charms of the capital city, San Jose, pale next to just about everything else in Costa Rica, so don't linger upon arrival. Instead, catch a taxi ($4) straight to the Coca-Cola terminal and board a bus ($3.50) bound for the town of La Fortuna and 5,358-foot (1,633-meter) Volcan Arenal, one of the world's most active volcanoes.

The December-to-April dry season is prime time to ply the area's mountain bike trails. On the half-day tour offered by the Arenal Paraiso Resort and Spa ($65; www.arenalparaiso.com), you'll circumnavigate the volcano, dip down to the blue waters of Lake Arenal, and end up at the thundering, 230-foot (70-meter) Fortuna waterfall.

When it's time to move on, the lodge can arrange jeep-and-boat transportation ($25) to Santa Elena, the gateway to the cloud forests of Monteverde. Spend a few hours wandering a hundred feet up among orchids, bromeliads, and butterflies on six suspension bridges at the privately owned Sky-walk facility ($15; ).

The next day, stick closer to the ground on a hike in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve ($12; www.monteverdeinfo.com), where rubber boots are the local fashion. Then grab the 2:30 p.m. bus back to San Jose.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Food and drink in Costa Rica

Food display at Barcelo Hotel in Playa Tambor, Costa Ricaby Infocostarica Staff

Costa Rican cuisine is simple but heavy on oil and some species. Comida tipica or native dishes, rely heavily on rice and beans, the basis of many Costa Rican meals. Home-style cooking predominates. But meals are generally wholesome and reasonably priced. Gallo Pinto, the national dish of fried rice and black beans is particularly served as a breakfast.

Notable is the famed Rice n' Beans of the Caribbean, a Gallo Pinto made in coconut milk, worth trying. Many meals are derivatives, including arroz con pollo or arroz con atun. At lunch Gallo Pinto becomes Casado : rice and beans supplemented with cabbage and tomato salad, fried platains, and meat.

Food staples include beef, chicken, fish and despite of the 1.000+ kilometers of coastline, seafood like shrimp or lobster, is expensive because Costa Rica exports most of its seafood.

Travelers with low budget should stick with the casado on lunch time menus, or 'plato del dia' which is a close cousin of the casado with a common denominator of low price and varied ingredients.

Eating in Costa Rica doesn't present the health problems that plague the unwary traveler elsewhere in Central America so you may eat where the locals eat because that usually means tasty and trustworthy food.

Costa Rica has no national drink, but very popular in the cultural tradition of drinks are Horchata, a cinnamon flavored cornmeal drink, Chan, a slimy drink made of seeds, Linaza, which is popularly used to cure indigestion, and fresco de frutas (fruit punch), which is deliciuos.

And last but not least coffee, Costa Rica’s golden grain. Most of the best coffee is exported, so don't expect the best coffee everywhere you go. Coffee is traditionally served very strong and mixed with hot milk.

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