We are fresh off yet another Southern Explorations scouting mission! This time we are coming off an in-depth exploration of Costa Rica’s most underappreciated and underexplored regions, all with the goal of crafting some new custom trips and itineraries through the rugged and rain-forested country. The thing is, most tourism activities have only scratched the surface of what’s actually out there in...
The history of Costa Rica is truly unique in Latin America. We think that makes it one of the most compelling Southern Explorations destinations for you to consider. You see, it all starts in Pre-Columbian times, of course, as the foundation of individuality always goes back to the beginning. The first of Costa Rica’s nomadic hunter-gatherer groups arrived in the country some 10,000 to 7,000 years BC when...
Easter egg hunts. It's a tradition dating back hundreds of years. The idea of searching for vibrant, colorful treats hidden away from sight has delighted children and adults alike for centuries.It’s a concept we’re very familiar with at Southern Explorations because it's the idea behind each one of our Latin America travel experiences. The destinations we explore are packed with travel Easter...
 Trip Advisor is one of the best-known and trusted travel resources worldwide, and every year they turn to millions of travelers to vote on the best of the best for the Travelers’ Choice Awards. We weren’t surprised to see many of our favorite Latin American destinations grab the spotlight for must-see landmarks, destinations, beaches, restaurants, and destinations on the rise in the 2016 Award...
Beaches In Costa Rica and PanamaIn neighboring Costa Rica and Panama, many folks opt for the heavenly beaches, but if you enjoy active vacations, even in paradise, you’ll find whitewater to raft, dive sites to explore, rainforests to hike and plenty of waves to surf. On both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, some accommodations are all-inclusive, offering oceanfront infinity pools, delicious cuisine and rental...
What Is A Multisport Adventure Trip?
As the name implies, multisport itineraries are active and most days are spent on one or more excursions that require at least moderate exertion. They usually involve a combination of different activities rather than focusing on just one. For many outings, guides transport passengers from their hotel to a trailhead or put-in at a river for a whitewater rafting trip. On others,...
SOUTHERN EXPLORATIONS 10 YEARS OLD AND GROWING!2015 marks Southern Explorations’ 10th year in business. What started as a two-person operation in a garage has grown into a company with destination coordinators in several countries, customers from throughout the world and awards from the national travel media for our authentic trips and sustainability values. Southern Explorations has become one of the leaders...
Manuel Antonio National ParkThe 4,000 acres of Manuel Antonio National Park are comprised of rainforests, picturesque beaches and beyond, seasonal habitat for migrating humpbacks and year-round protection for various dolphin species. For visitors who travel here during their Costa Rica tours, it will be easy to see why the park has become so popular since its designation in 1972. Though the government imposes...
Costa Rica Whales Pilot whales are plentiful on both coasts and are usually seen at the beginning and end of the year. Visitors are most likely to see Bryde’s whales during travel to Costa Rica between January and April. Orcas, seis and sometimes blue whales from the north also pass through the waters of Costa Rica. To learn where humpback whales and dolphins are found in Costa Rica, see our articles on these...
Costa Rica Green TurtlesWhen you travel to Costa Rica, you may hear the green turtle species referred to by one of two names, the Pacific the green turtle and the black sea turtle. Measuring up to four feet and several hundred pounds at adulthood, it is one of the largest of the sea turtle species. Unlike the other species of marine turtles, the green turtle is mostly vegetarian, subsisting mainly on a diet of sea...
Reading about and preparing for your adventure is half the fun. For more book suggestions go to Costa Rica
Some of the protected lands are held publicly, some privately. The government also holds the coastline in the public domain to prevent private development. Within the borders of some protected areas, the government does allow a range of private activities, from farming to eco-lodgings. Costa Rica can count among its assets, twelve RAMSAR wetlands and two UNESCO-designated biospheres.In 1998, Costa Rica divided the...
As part of an ongoing research effort, INBio conducts extensive inventorying and monitoring programs, collecting data about Costa Rica’s flora and fauna at various locations to share with government and other entities. The organization helps formalize agreements for the use of species that represent economic potential in medicine. INBio has also joined international conservation efforts to preserve...
The organization operates three biological stations in Costa Rica. The 3,700-acre Selva Biological Station is located north of Braulio Carrillo National Park and south of the city of Puerto Viejo Sarapiqui, about forty miles from Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. Established in 1954, this bio-diverse area provides habitat to most of the country’s butterfly species as well as half of its mammal and bird...
By the time scientists began counting, the number of green turtles arriving on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast had dwindled to just 3,000, and there were more here than anywhere else. Efforts to re-populate the coasts have been very successful. Today, many more visitors who travel to Costa Rica will see the species, when about 20,000 of the species come to shore to nest. Thanks to the efforts of Carr and others,...
Zip Lines are comprised of steel cables strung between two towers or trees, in segments of varying lengths. Most zip line tours include several. Given helmets and gloves, riders are strapped into a climbing harness that is attached to the pulley and to the cable. Gravity does the rest. Adults zip alone; children ride tandem with a trained guide. Too little or too much weight slows the rider’s speed. Depending...
Costa Rica contains twenty-six national parks for the enjoyment of visitors on Costa Rica tours and residents alike. Eight are located along the country’s two picturesque coasts, six on its 631-mile Pacific coast and two on its 132-mile Caribbean coast, protecting endangered species from humpback whales to leatherback turtles. The eighteen interior national parks represent a variety of ecosystems. The...
Santa Rosa National ParkNamed to commemorate an 1856 battle against American intruders, this 92,000-acre national park encompasses much of the Santa Elena Peninsula near Costa Rica’s border with Nicaragua. The area became a national park in 1971 to protect some of the world’s remaining tropical dry forest, with its current boundaries established in 1993. It adjoins inland Guanacaste National Park....
Manuel Antonio National ParkThe 4,000 acres of Manuel Antonio National Park is comprised of rainforests, picturesque beaches and beyond, seasonal habitat for migrating humpbacks and year-round protection for various dolphin species. For visitors who travel here during their Costa Rica tours, it will be easy to see why the park has become so popular since its designation in 1972. Though the government imposes daily...
Palo Verde National ParkThough not technically on the peninsula, Palo Verde National Park borders it on the northern end. The region’s ecosystems of forests and estuaries make this 46,000-acre park a haven for birders on Costa Rica tours who come here to hike the trails, observing migrating species. The Organization for Tropical Studies researches the forests, wetlands and waterfowl in the area. Wildlife and...
Barbilla National ParkProtected since 1982, first as a biological reserve and designated a national park in 1998, Barbilla is the smallest and the least visited of the region’s national parks. The 29,500-acre park is located on the Caribbean side of the Talamanca range and contains mostly lowland tropical rainforests. Providing important habitat to some of the country’s most endangered species, including...
Tapanti-Macizo Cerro de la Muerte National ParkTwenty-six miles from San Jose, this park is located in the Talamanca Mountains of Cartargo Province. It was established in 1982 as a wildlife refuge, became a national park in 1994 and was enlarged a few years later to its current size of 144,000 acres. The park, along with Chirripo National Park, Rio Macho Forest Reserve, Los Santos Forest Reserve, Paramo Wildlife...
Turrialba Volcano National ParkFar fewer visitors who travel to Costa Rica visit this park than the country’s others. Those who do will find 3,900 acres of scenic forests for guided hiking and moderate temperatures to their liking. Located only forty miles east of San Jose in Cartago Province, the Turrialba Volcano National Park was established in 1955. Though three craters are considered active, none have...
Tortuguero National ParkVisitors love to watch turtles during their travel to Costa Rica which makes Tortuguero National Park the region’s most popular destination. Named for the wildlife it is helping to save, the park provides habitat for three of the country’s four species of marine turtles. Each year, green turtles, leatherbacks and hawksbills come to nest on the park’s black sand beach,...
Pilot whales are plentiful on both coasts and are usually seen at the beginning and end of the year. Visitors are most likely to see Bryde’s whales during travel to Costa Rica between January and April. Orcas, seis and sometimes blue whales from the north also pass through the waters of Costa Rica. To learn where humpback whales and dolphins are found in Costa Rica, see our articles on these species. Several...
When people think of whale sounds, it is usually the humpbacks they have in mind. The humpback’s songs are the most complex of any of any whale species and longer, lasting twenty to thirty minutes. Humpback males sing, scientists believe, as a mating ritual, but where those sounds come from is not fully understood, since the species has no vocal cords and does not appear to open its mouth or exhale while...
Most of the locations where dolphins frolic are along Costa Rica’s Pacific coast as far north as the Gulf of Papagayo in the protected waters of Santa Rosa National Park and beyond. Though Cocos Island National Park is not exactly on the beaten path for most visitors who travel to Costa Rica, the waters that surround it are home to a group of bottlenose dolphins. Since baby bottlenoses spend their first three...
Marine Turtles Once abundant, only seven species of marine turtles remain. Four of these, from the largest to the smallest, travel to Costa Rica to nest every year, the leatherback, the green turtle, the hawksbill and the olive ridley. The turtle species that nest here all do so at night, crawling onto a safe spot on the beach and using their back flippers to dig and cover the hole where they deposit their eggs. The...
New World MonkeysNo environmental issue is more important to the survival of Costa Rica’s monkeys than retaining its forests. The monkey species are all tree dwellers, inhabiting protected and unprotected areas of Costa Rica’s forests. The spider and the howler are the largest of Costa Rica’s monkeys. The smallest and least likely to be spotted during travel to Costa Rica is the Central American...