For many wanderlusts, globetrotters, and lovers of Costa Rica, the image that comes to mind of this amazing little country in Central America is a tropical beach embraced by rainforest, the lush mountains dotted with volcanoes and wildlife left, right, and center. The image is a perfect one of course and much more beautiful in real life. What is probably not in the image are the northern lowlands. Discovering the Northern Lowlands of Costa Rica: Beyond Arenal!
Large stretches of moisture-laden plains that are just waiting to be explored.
As Costa Rica continues to open its borders to tourists from all over the world, it is the perfect time to start exploring new destinations with certain characteristics that favor the new way of doing travel. International flights into Costa Rica rebegan on the 1st of August and the list of authorized countries and US states continue to grow as Costa Rica resumes activities that were once restricted or closed.
So, whether you fly into the Juan Santamaria International Airport in the Central Valley or the Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia, Guanacaste, the Northern Lowlands Region is a few hours away. This means a visit can be combined with many other attractions during your stay in beautiful Costa Rica and it will be an amazing contrast to the beaches and the mountains.
Where is the Northern Lowland Region exactly?
This understated region is located on the “back” side of the Guanacaste and Central Valley Volcanic mountain ranges and extends up to the border with Nicaragua and to the northern Caribbean coastline. These extensive plains are cut by several impressive rivers that maintain the wetlands and agricultural activity as they make their way north into the San Juan River and the sea.
This is the land of the swamps, seasonal lakes, wetlands, and water canals that are magnets for wildlife, birds, and postcard landscapes. It is also home to several very important natural reserves and protected lands that ensure a safe place of stay for the migratory birds and other species. It also means that wildlife lovers can visit this area and bask in its beauty and biodiversity.
What National Parks can I visit?
National Parks and protected areas cover nearly 25% of Costa Rica´s land territory which is pretty impressive. So, wherever your travels take you, there will be a protected piece of land nearby so take your pick!
The Northern Lowlands has it´s share of visit-worthy national parks that vary in highlights.
Caño Negro Wetlands
One of Costa Rica’s best-hidden treasures without a doubt!
These wetlands are the perfect place for bird and wildlife observation in the serenity of a boat ride that will take you through marshes, seasonal lakes and is considered one of the best wetlands IN THE WORLD.
It is also a Ramsar world protected area so while off the beaten track, it is well worth the visit up north. This is where you will see a number of rare plants, birds, and animal species too.
If you like the sound of this nature adventure, you can do a day trip but to truly appreciate the sights and sounds of this little gem of a nature reserve, stay the night at the Enchanting Hotel´s, Hacienda Caño Negro! It is a wildlife sanctuary nestled into a working farm with beautiful accommodation options and an amazing restaurant.
One of Costa Rica´s iconic national parks and areas for the true-blue nature lovers. Located on the Caribbean Coast and only reachable by water or air, this wildlife outpost is surely one of the world’s most beautiful corners.
The rainforest-laden water canals snake their way over the coastal lowlands before reaching the wild open coastline and are home to an incredible assortment of mammals, birds, reptiles including up to four sea-turtles for their nesting grounds.
The Manatus Costa Rica Hotel is Tortuguero´s best hotel and boasts the best gourmet restaurant on the waterway and rainforest-chic rooms. A must stay lodge.
So, where is Arenal in all this?
A true Costa Rican natural iconic landmark and the gateway to the Northern Lowlands.
The Arenal Volcano and its small town of La Fortuna is the perfect introduction to this beautiful region. Thanks to its sheer beauty and the endless possibilities it offers for adventure and close to nature experiences, travelers don´t always look beyond it for an additional injection of nature.
The area around the Arenal Volcano is a true adventure wonderland. So much so, it was named the best place for adventure experiences in the world so come prepared. From skywalks through the rainforest to tubing down a river, to rappelling to ziplining, there is something for everyone.
And let´s not forget the hot thermal springs that are the perfect way to relax after a day of adventure exercise.
A short drive from the Arenal hotspot you will find the Tilajari Hotel, which offers an alternative stay but always within reach of the action. Alternate hiking with some tennis or horseback riding with a swim at the semi-Olympic pool. All in the beauty of nature.
The Northern Lowlands of Costa Rica is vast and diverse in what it offers to travelers and explorers. The mixture of landscapes is a welcoming surprise, and it is a nature lover’s paradise. And don´t forget to stay in the best places on the plains. They are Enchanting!