How to prepare for hiking in Costa Rica
Costa Rica claims some of the best hiking and eco-exploration prospects on earth. With its profusion of vegetation and wildlife, there is an endless amount of discovery and excitement for explorers hiking through the Costa Rica rainforests.
Here are a few tips, tricks and tools you can use to prepare for the best hiking experience possible in Costa Rica.
Get ready for anything.
You’ll be blown away by the bounty of microclimates Costa Rica has to offer, with its rapid fluctuations in weather; typically, from one moment to the next. Think “layers” when you pack your bags for this eco-vacation; hiking pants that zip down into shorts, water proof hiking shoes, and a light jacket that can be bundled down into a tiny space for storage are the way to go.
Whatever your vacation luggage is (backpacker’s gear or old school suitcase), it’s a good idea to bring along a lightweight backpack for exploring; most hiking trails in Costa Rica are moderate to difficult, so you won’t be lugging all your gear along with you. Plan to leave the bulk of your stuff behind at the hotel and pack light, with essentials only, for hiking and other excursions.
Be Aware of Your Environmental Impact.
Insensible hikers sometimes accidentally devastate the environments they are privileged to enjoy. The rich green forests of Costa Rica are fragile; thus, it is vital that you are conscious and aware of your impact on the natural surroundings in which you are a guest.
The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics offers a set of guidelines for low-impact hiking: “Leave nothing but footprints. Take nothing but photos. Kill nothing but time. Keep nothing but memories.”
Remember that (for the most part) the animals who live in the forest are not accustomed to people or people-food. Don’t feed them and certainly don’t remove them from their homes. Observe quietly from a distance; never engage with them, touch them, or bother their home or nest.
You may not see any signs posted with rules or regulations, but always assume that a firm guideline for dealing with trash or food: don’t leave any of it behind.
Always adhere to the rules and regulations of the area and, if none are given, just err on the side of good sense and care. Stay on the trail. Don’t build fires or even smoke cigarettes in the forest, and finally follow good hiker’s etiquette.
· Be conscious of noise pollution. Most hikers are out to enjoy nature; they won’t appreciate listening your loud, boisterous conversation, music, or efforts at creating echoes in the forest by whooping and yelling. The same goes for your cell phone; leave it tucked in your backpack, on silence, and take it out only for emergencies and photos.
· If you are hiking in a group, give the right of way to single or couple hikers. Also, it’s customary to give way to uphill hikers if you’re on your way down.
· Always stay on established trails.
· Say hello! But, don’t engage in uninvited conversation. A smile, a nod, and a brief: “hey,” “hola,” “buenas,” or “enjoy” will do nicely.
Costa Rica is teeming with lush, green cloud forests, rainforests, and even dry forests to explore. Monteverde Biological Reserve, Irazú Volcano, Chirripó, Caraca National Park, and Manual Antonio National Park are some of our favorites, just to name a few. Pack right for the trails and bring along a conscientious nature; between those two things you’ll find your eco-exploration experience to be nothing but pure delight.