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Introducing Parque Internacional La Amistad

The 4070-sq-km Parque Internacional La Amistad is an enormous patch of green sprawling across the borders of Panama and Costa Rica (hence its Spanish name La Amistad, 'Friendship'). This is by far the largest protected area in Costa Rica. Standing as a testament to the possibilities of international cooperation and environmental conservation, the park was established in 1982 and declared a Unesco World Heritage Site just eight years later. It then became part of the greater Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, which protects a great variety of endangered habitats. Its cultural importance is also signifigant as it includes several scattered indigneous reserves.

Sound like an exciting place to visit? Well, not so fast. The vast majority of the park is high up in the Cordillera de Talamanca, and remains virtually inaccessible. Although there's no shortage of hiking and camping available for intrepid, independent travelers at lower altitudes, tourist infrastructure within the park is virtually nonexistent. If you play it by the book, trekkers are limited to specific areas, and strongly encouraged (in some places required) to make use of local guides.

While tourists flock to Costa Rica’s better-known parks in the hopes of having an eco-adventure, La Amistad is truly as rugged as it comes. Tackling this pristine, potentially treacherous environment is no easy task, but La Amistad is brimming with possibilities for hard-core wilderness exploration – if your fear of growing old in an urban jungle drives you to explore verdant ones, you'll find none wilder on the planet.