San Jose is trying to revive and beautify its city center but it has a long way to go. Frankly I applaud the country for prioritizing the conservation and expansion of its natural park areas, to protect the unparalleled biodiversity in this amazing nation. Unparalleled is not an exaggeration - with just .03% of the planet's land mass, Costa Rica boasts a whopping 4% of the planet's biodiversity. I learned exactly what that means at INBioparque, a short 10-20 minute drive from virtually anywhere around San Jose. I visited through a tour coordinated by my hotel. For $44 you have RT transportation, a guided tour, and delicious lunch.
This is a beautiful day trip to enjoy solo, with friends, or the whole family, and is even a romantic date! The park has lovely paths to walk, through tropical rain forests, bromeliad gardens, butterfly gardens, a huge lagoon, and aquarium. A 'farm' with petting zoo for the kids is a great diversion. A guided tour provides amazing insight into the ecosystems, habitats, and various uses of plants and trees. Very informative without being boring!
On my tour we saw a sloth, peccary, gigantic iguana, alligators, fish, turtles, tons of butterflies, white-tailed deer, tarantulas and colorful venomous frogs (safely behind glass). The climate is lovely in this part of San Jose (Heredia) and it's a very pleasant way to spend a half day and support the continued research and conservation efforts that are keeping Costa Rica an amazing place of natural beauty.
Lunch at INBioparque's restaurant is plentiful, delicious, typical Tico fare, and the gift shop provides a variety of souvenirs. Esteban Lobo was our guide and was so excellent that I sent a letter to the park to tell them! Cross fingers that he'll be there when you are!
The tourist office inside the park and the guides themselves are also great resources for continued exploration of Costa's natural beauty. Our guide already emailed me with contacts in the Osa Peninsula, where I'm headed next.
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