If you’ve booked a luxury vacation rental home in Costa Rica and you’ve rented a car to get there, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with some of the twists and turns of the road. Driving in a foreign country can be intimidating, especially if all the road signs are in Spanish!
1 – Road Signs – Here’s a handy glossary of common road signs listed alphabetically for easy reference. Print them out and refer to them while you’re on the road.
Alto – Stop
Ceda el Paso – Yield
Derrumbres en la Via – Watch for landslides in the road
Despacio – Slow down
Hombres Trabajando or Trabajos en la Carretera – Men at Work
While Latin America as a whole has experienced marked deforestation, Costa Rica has proved the notable exception, and has sustained and even increased its forest cover, said a climate investigation published in the University of Costa Rica’s weekly Semanario Universidad.
What has led to Costa Rica’s success? The United Nations Organization for Agriculture (FAO) says state support and incentives to preserve forests have played a key role.
Costa Rica’s environmental services payment program (PSA, its initials in Spanish) is one of the most successful environmental public policies in the country’s history, and has been used as a model for other countries.
The country went from having 75 percent forest cover in 1940 to an all time low of 21 percent in 1987, as shown in the infographic included above by Revista Vacío.
Today, more than half of the country is forested and, about 50 percent of forested lands are classified as protected.
The environmental service payment program was formalized in 1997, having morphed out of some similar previous programs. Between 1996 and 2015, investments in forest-related PSA projects in Costa Rica reached US$318 million, according to the FAO.
The program pays for four types of “environmental services” on forested lands. These include carbon capture; water protection for rural, urban or hydroelectric use; protection of biodiversity; and natural scenic beauty or value for tourism and/or scientific purposes. In essence, the program is simple: if you keep the forest on your property, Costa Rica will pay you.
The report in Semanario Universidad found that the environmental service payment program tends to be more effective in areas far from national parks. This appears to be related to the fact that owners of lands near national parks can often find more lucrative uses for their land due to the presence of tourism, and so conserving forest for government payments is not as attractive as in more remote areas.
An important finding for the FAO was that while other Latin American countries cleared forests to make room for agricultural production, Costa Rica was able to increase conservation and sustainable management of forests without jeopardizing their food security. In fact, the FAO found that 70 percent of deforestation in Latin America between 2000 and 2010 occurred to make way for commercial agriculture.
Costa Rica has increased its food security since the 1990s by increasing agricultural productivity and importing food from countries with lower production costs, according to the recent FAO report.
While there continue to be poor, landless and vulnerable rural families suffering from food insecurity, Costa Rica appears to be heading the right way and has found a way to preserve its forest cover while maintaining good levels of food security, said the report.
It’s always a good time to visit Costa Rica, but for the most part you will always hear it is best during the “summer” time, dry season actually is a better term considering it’s always summer in this country; however, traveling to Costa Rica during the green season or rainy season has its advantages.
The green or rainy season in Costa Rica extends from May through December, however when it comes to tourism the “low season” includes the months of May and June and then September, October and November and even the first ten days of December. July and August used to be considered part of the “low season” but for some years now schools in the country schedule their vacation periods through these two months which also coincide with the summer break in the USA.
Here are the 10 reasons to visit Costa Rica during the rainy season:
1. Better Prices: Budget is always important, and the prices for airfare, hotels and tours sky rocket during the high season, so if you are 2. Less Crowds: Some people like crowds, but the majority tries to avoid them. Less crowds translate into better attention, shorter waiting times and more relaxation. 3. Sunny Mornings, Rainy Afternoons: With exceptions of course, rainy season in Costa Rica offers hot sunny morning and afternoon showers, this gives you enough time to enjoy the beach and different tours in the early hours of the day and enjoy your afternoon relaxing with the sound of the rain. 4. Green and greener: Rain makes everything greener and that makes for beautiful views, the rainforests come alive and this draws more wildlife. 5. Caribbean Coast: The Caribbean coast of Costa Rica (Limón) has the best weather during the months of September and October the beaches and National Parks in this area are worth visiting. 6. Whale Watching: If one of your interests is having the opportunity to go on a dolphin and whale watching tour, the rainy season is the perfect time. Although both whales and dolphins can be spotted other times of the year, the humpback whales show up in large numbers as they migrate to warmer waters during the month of September and early October. Marino Ballena National Park even hosts a Whale Watching Festival during this time. 7. Tortuguero: If you want to have the opportunity to witness the nesting of sea turtles, Tortuguero in the Caribbean is the perfect spot, and the green season is an optimal time to catch this amazing phenomenon. White water rafting is also a great option in the area. 8. Playa Grande: This beach in Guanacaste, which is part of the National Park Marino Las Baulas, is another great place to see the arrival of Baula Sea Turtles (Leatherback Sea Turtles). Turtles start arriving the last week of October. 9. Ostional Wildlife Refuge: Located in Guanacaste, Ostional is the site of arrival of thousands of sea turtles. 10. Romance: What can be more romantic than a rainy afternoon in paradise? Planning your honeymoon in Costa Rica during the green season is a fantastic idea.
Other activities like surfing, sport fishing and scuba diving are pretty much good all year round, it all depends too on the area you will be visiting, but likely there will always be a place in Costa Rica where you can find the best conditions for a particular activity no matter the time of the year.
Pack your bug repellent and your raincoat and you’ll be ready to enjoy Costa Rica during the off-season.