Thousands of world travelers enjoy the breathtaking Costa Rica wilderness every year without experiencing any accidents, illnesses, or mishaps, but a little preparation can still go a long way when it comes to rain forest safety and etiquette.
The following tips can help to insure that any visit to the Costa Rica wilderness will remain both safe and ecologically respectful:
- Dress appropriately. Sturdy walking shoes with good arch support, cushioned hiking socks, and breathable layers of lightweight, quick-drying clothing are ideal choices for the Costa Rica wilderness. Cover arms and legs and wear (or bring) a collapsible or crushable hat to keep bugs away.
- Use sunscreen and insect repellent liberally. Choose a sunscreen with a high SPF factor and use it liberally every day whether the sun is out or not. Bug bites are not as much of a problem in Costa Rica as most travelers expect, but preventative use of insect repellent minimizes the risk.
- Stay on the trails, and don’t approach animals or touch them. Costa Rica wilderness parks and rain forests aren’t necessarily dangerous, but they are truly wild. Caiman and crocodile s inhabit some rivers and streams, so don’t swim in unfamiliar waterways. Snakes, spiders, monkeys, and many other forms of wildlife are common and easy to spot, but never approach or touch them, and don’t wander off the trail for any reason.
- Bring a change of clothes. The Costa Rica wilderness is subject to sudden showers, and plenty of mud and mess can appear suddenly, seemingly from out of nowhere. Pack a lightweight change of clothing in a waterproof bag and a fold-up rain poncho as a general precaution.
- Schedule appropriate vaccinations, and check medical insurance coverage. Health care in Costa Rica is excellent and easy to access, especially in San Jose and other major resort destinations, but check with your health insurance carrier before leaving to make sure you have enough coverage out of country. If not, travel medical insurance is available for a modest cost.
- Be sensible about eating and drinking. The food and water in Costa Rica are for the most part quite safe, but be moderate and use common sense. Water in swimming areas can occasionally cause fever or intestinal distress if swallowed. If these symptoms appear, seek medical attention promptly.
- Leave the Costa Rica wilderness as you found it. Don’t throw trash or food on the ground. Don’t remove plant or animal specimens from the wild. If you need a souvenir, buy one or take a photograph.
- Listen to guides and take warnings seriously. Most visitors to the Costa Rica wilderness have never seen a rain forest before. While no one needs to be unduly afraid of anything while on tour, take safety restrictions and professional advice seriously and don’t assume you can handle the terrain yourself if experts advise otherwise.
The Costa Rica wilderness is one of the most gorgeous, biologically diverse ecosystems on the planet. With a little common sense and practical planning, your visit to Costa Rica’s rain forest preserves, coastal beaches, or volcanic national parks scan be safe, enjoyable, and unforgettable.
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