Costa Rica

A colourful oasis of emerald rainforests, towering volcanic peaks and unique wildlife, the beauty of Costa Rica will amaze you. From surfing its famed Pacific Coast breaks to the mountain ranges, it is a fascinating destination. Enjoy a bird’s eye view of the Monteverde cloud forests and travel east to the warm waters of the Caribbean where turtle hatchlings make their way by moonlight to the sea.

When to Visit

The dry season from December through to April is the best time to visit Costa Rica, and the beginning of the rainy season can be a wonderful time to travel to avoid the touris crowds. In Panama, mid-December to mid-April are the driest months best for hiking, rafting and diving.

Highlights

TORTUGUERO It is a true paradise where there are no cars on the streets and nature literally bursts into the village. On one side of the village, rivers and waterways beckon you to paddle deep into the jungle, while on the other side, a Caribbean beach welcomes thousands of sea turtles each year.

ARENAL VOLCANO Sitting within Costa Rica’s fertile northern lowlands, the Arenal Volcano is tall and imposing with a reputation that precedes it. Its perfect symmetrical shape makes it a photographer’s dream and, until recently, it was Costa Rica’s most active volcano.

MONTEVERDE CLOUD FOREST RESERVE The reserve will astound you with its beauty and amazing biodiversity. Wind sculpted woodlands give way to rainforests where tall trees rise high into the sky. The climate of the Cloud Forest has helped shape an amazing set of creatures that call the reserve home, from the jaguar and Baird’s tapir to the famously resplendent quetzal.

SELVATURA CANOPY Selvatura Canopy is a network of suspension bridges and trails built deep within the primary cloud forest. It’s cables and platforms are built into the cloud forest rather than above it, allowing you to feel truly immersed within the forested environment. In total, there are 15 cables and 18 viewing platforms that stretch over three kilometres, the longest cable length of any canopy excursion in Costa Rica.

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Useful Information

Visa's

Official travel advice regarding visas is available by calling 04 439 8000 or visiting their website www.safetravel.govt.nz

Customs

Costa Ricans consider themselves "cultured" and polite. Children, parents, and age-mates are often addressed in the formal second-person. Men greet each other with a handshake, while women greet female and male friends and relatives with a kiss. Dating and courtship, once highly ritualized, are approaching U.S. patterns. Much socializing goes on in restaurants and bars. Malicious gossip is common and a source of both delight and apprehension.

Health

The following information is intended as a guide only and in no way should it be used as a substitute for professional medical advice relative to a travellers individual needs and vaccination history. No guarantee is made as to its accuracy or thoroughness. For further information, please contact The Travel Doctor on (+64) 9 373 3531. Vaccination against Hepatitis A is recommended for all travellers to Costa Rica. Vaccination against Hepatitis B and Influenza should also be considered, while persons staying in Costa Rica for extended periods or visiting certain regions may require immunisation against Tuberculosis or Rabies. Travellers to Costa Rica should have had a Tetanus and Diphtheria booster dose within the last 10 years. Travellers under the age of 30 years should have their Measles, Mumps and Rubella immunisation complete. Those over 30 years are most likely to have long term immunity from previous exposure as a child. Chickenpox vaccination should be considered by those in high risk groups (adults and adolescents without previous exposure). The risk of Malaria exists in Costa Rica, thus antimalarial drugs and insect avoidance measures may be needed. Food and water precautions are also advised. Please consult a medical practitioner or contact The Travel Doctor for your specific risk to these preventable diseases and the appropriate avoidance measures. New Zealanders travelling to Costa Rica should also ensure that they have adequate travel insurance to cover the length of their stay.

Electricity

Electrical Plug type: Japan|USA Voltage: 110-120 volts Modem: USA Source: Korjo Travel Products. To purchase electrical adapters, or for further information, please go to www.korjo.com.au.

Communications

Country Code for Costa Rica: +506 Offical Travel Advice: Visit www.safetravel.govt.nz Emergency Services: 911 Police - 117 Police (outside cities) - 127 Fire - 118 Traffic Police - 222 9330 The emergency services may not always have English speaking staff. In this case, you should have a local call on your behalf or contact the Canadian Embassy.

Shopping

There are plenty of opportunities to get your shopping fix in Costa Rica. Modern malls, classic boutique stores, local street vendors and little shops tucked in and around the villages across the country are all waiting for your shopping dollars.  A few quick tips, comfortable shoes and a pocket full of money will get you ready for a fantastic shopping experience in Costa Rica. Outside of the larger cities, your shopping playground consists of boutique, specialty, souvenir and local variety shops. Don't be fooled when passing through a village that appears to have little or no shops off the main road. The terrain and land ownership often force these smaller shops to be off the beaten path.

Tipping

Gratuities are a normal and expected part of the income for anyone employed in the service sector of the tourism industry.  The service tax of 10% still gets added to restaurant bills but it's sort of the minimum wage part of the wait staff's pay.  Envelopes for housekeeping gratuities have appeared on nightstands at many hotels and we've even seen tip jars on the counter of ice cream shops. Tipping is never mandatory (except for the 10% already included in your restaurant tab) but if your guide, instructor, driver or service staff made your stay particularily enjoyable consider giving them a gratuity.

Getting around

Costa Rica’s public bus system is excellent, cheap and quite frequent, even in remote areas. Taxis regularly do long- as well as short-distance trips and are a fairly inexpensive alternative to the bus, at least if you’re travelling in a group. Car rental is more common here than in the rest of Central America, but is fairly expensive and driving can be quite a hair-raising experience, with precipitous drops in the highlands and potholed roads just about everywhere else.Domestic airlines are reasonably economical and can be quite a time-saver, especially since Costa Rica’s difficult terrain makes driving distances longer than they appear on the map. A number of tour operators in San José organize individual itineraries and packages with transport included, well worth checking out before making any decisions about heading out on your own.

Language

Spanish

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