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Pura Vida! Visiting Costa Rica's National Parks

When a survey last year asked the British public for their ideas for a national motto, the responses were typically British in their irony and wit. Suggestions such as' Unity in individuality ',' Smile! You're on CCTV 'and' Must not Grumble 'were just some of the phrases that the public provided as their expressions of twenty-first century Britain.

If national mottos are anything to go by as a reflection of the country itself, Costa Rica's 'Pura Vida' promises a lot indeed. Literally translated, 'Pura Vida' means 'Pure Life', and certainly seems to express very concisely precisely why Costa Rica has shot to fame in the tourism and Ecotourism industries in the past few years.

Home to twenty-six National Parks (and yet covering only a minuscule 0.1% of the world's total landmass), Costa Rica has managed to protect almost a quarter of its national territory under government legislation – more than any other country in the world – making it a popular destination for the increasing numbers of Ecotourists looking to become more 'one with nature'.

The National Parks themselves are not merely numerous, but also cater for lots of different type of holidaymaker, offering a wide-range of different natural attractions. Whether you wish to see a variety of different creatures in their natural habitats, like the turtle beaches, frog swamps and jaguar rainforests of Tortuguero National Park, or if you wish to snorkel around beautiful coral and crumbling shipwrecks at Cahuita; Costa Rica has it all. From the mountains of Irazu, upon which you can view both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean at once (it really is possible!), To the Volcano at Arenal – one of the few places in the world where you'll cross your fingers and actually hope for a volcanic eruption – the National Parks of Costa Rica offer something for everyone.

As if the vast array of natural sights were not enough, Costa Rica also offers a teeming metropolis in the form of its capital San Jose, a city rife with culture and history. Directly in the middle of Costa Rica, and therefore in easy distance from many of the great National Parks, San Jose is the center of (human!) Activity in the country. The city offers some more conventional tourist attractions, such as the Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica, or National Theater of Costa Rica, which has musical and dramatic performances throughout the week, as well as several museums, such as the Gold Museum, which shows a number of gold artifacts from ancient civilizations. For those who are daunted by the prospect of camping with jaguars at the foot of active volcanoes, there are also many hotels in San Jose offering a safe haven from feline predators!

San Jose, then, offers not only the chance to study the history of this country from man's perspective, but also serves as a great base for those who wish to 'go wild' and witness first-hand the natural history of the best-preserved country on the planet.

Source by Paul Mcindoe

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