Wednesday, 17 October 2012 4:41 PM
The Americas are renowned as the place to go for adventure holidays, with thousands of British trekkers exploring the landscapes of the USA, Canada, Mexico and Peru each year. If you've already seen all those, or just want a destination well off the tourist trail, you should take a look at what Costa Rica has to offer.
This Central American country boasts jungles, mountains, volcanoes and rivers, so is great for almost any type of outdoor activity you can imagine. Throw in exotic wildlife, a cosmopolitan capital city and Caribbean and Pacific coastlines, and you have the perfect mix for an energetic getaway.
Arenal Volcano National Park
The area around Arenal, one of the world's most active volcanoes, is a paradise for intrepid holidaymakers. The rainforest is beautiful and you will discover lakes, waterfalls and hot springs as you explore the park.
A network of trails suitable for hiking and horse riding allow you to navigate your way through the jungle. You can also enjoy fabulous views of the region by taking a zip line tour above the canopy.
If you don't mind getting wet, you could try white water rafting, kayaking on Lake Arenal or abseiling down a waterfall. Round off your days by soothing your aching muscles in one of the hot springs that are the result of geothermal activity in the area.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
This section of the Cordillera de Tilaran mountain range boasts unrivalled biodiversity. Partly as a result of the efforts to preserve the cloud forest in its original state, it provides a habitat for more than 2,500 plant species, 100 different mammals, 400 bird species and 120 types of reptiles and amphibians.
It is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and can be explored on foot, horseback or by strolling on the network of canopy-level suspended walkways. A guided nocturnal hike will give you a chance to see a whole different set of creatures than you do during the day.
Costa Rica does not have the kind of packed seaside resorts you would find in Mexico, but its beaches are every bit as beautiful. Cahuita National Park on the Caribbean coast is a particularly picturesque area, with stretches of white sand fringed by a protected forest. The clean waters are packed with fascinating sights and you can expect to see colourful coral, exotic fish and lobsters if you try scuba diving or snorkelling.
The small town of Samara on the Pacific coast is a great spot for water sports. You can go swimming, surfing and kayaking in the azure sea, before trying some of the local seafood restaurants and traditional bars.
The capital of Costa Rica is a fascinating place, with colonial architecture, busy markets and a selection of museums. You are also likely to drink the best coffee of your life during your time in San Jose, as the local blends are excellent.
Don't miss the fabulous collection of pre-Columbian gold artefacts at the Museo Oro Precolombino or the displays of archaeological finds dating from 500 BC to 800 AD at Museo del Jade Marco Fidel Tristan Castro. Strolling through the orchids at Lankester Botanical Gardens is a relaxing way to spend an afternoon, while it is also worth seeing Ibo Bonilla's bizarre 3 Platonic Solids statue in Justice Square.
To find out about visiting any of these locations, or other Costa Rican destinations such as Rincon de la Vieja National Park and Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Reserve, click here for more details.