Enter this underexplored national park and you will have an idea of what Costa Rica looked like prior to the 1950s, when 75% of the country’s surface area was still covered in forest. It has extraordinary biodiversity due to the range of altitudes, from steamy 2906m cloud forest alongside Volcán Barva to lush, humid lowlands on the Caribbean slope. Its most incredible feature, however, is that the southern edge of this massive park is 30 minutes north of San José.
Nature-spotting opportunities include the three-fingered sloth, deer, jaguars, coyotes, anteaters and more. Temperatures fluctuate drastically, and annual rainfall can be as high as 6000mm. The best time to go is the ‘dry’ season (January to April), but it might rain then, too. Bring warm clothing, wet-weather gear and sturdy footwear. There are bathrooms and map boards at both entrances.