Vamos Expeditions

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  • About trip: Pura Vida! in Costa Rica

    About trip: Pura Vida! in Costa Rica The trip exceeded far my expectations! I’ve taken many organized tours with different companies such as Contiki, Trafalgar and Studiosus. This has been the best organized and most enjoyable tour I’ve taken, due in large part to the efforts and friendliness of Annelies. Great job!!! see more

    Candice Aebi
    United States
  • Vamos Expeditions

    “If you want to travel in Latin America, I can definitely recommend Vamos Expeditions. I know Annelies as a “colleague”, leading trips for Venture Europe and as a “customer” taking part in a Vamos Expeditions trip through Central America. Annelies is a very warm person,... see more

    Nancy Van Heurck
    United States
  • About trip: Coast to Coast in Costa Rica

    About trip: Coast to Coast in Costa Rica To say it in one word: perfecto! The rainforest in Rara Avis, the boat trip to the north, horse riding around the lake Arenal, seeing the eruption of the Volcano, the hot springs, just all unforgettable! see more

    Carol van Meiracker
  • About trip: Pura Vida! in Costa Rica

    About trip: Pura Vida! in Costa Rica Was a wonderful sampler for a definite return trip to Costa Rica. I thought it was great to have two nights in every place. The locations were very well chosen. Highlights of the trip: fellow travelers, hot springs, animals and vegetation, experienced tour guide, rainbows and falling Stars,... see more

    Hilary Howarth
  • About trip: Coast to Coast in Costa Rica

    About trip: Coast to Coast in Costa Rica Both coasts were fantastic, as well were la Fortuna and Monteverde. The food we had in the ‘Sodas’ was delicious, filling and cheap! I think we couldn’t have been more lucky with our tour leader. She knew so much about the small details about Costa Rican traditions, life and... see more

    Genevieve Lussier
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Costa Rica > Recommended Reading


Explore Costa Rica by Harry S. Pariser. A comprehensive and thoroughly researched 512-page guide that covers every aspect of the country, from the rich Jamaican culture of the Caribbean coast to the mountains and lowlands, rainforests, and beaches. Includes photos and coverage of flora, fauna, and OAT trip destinations as well as useful tips and hundreds of e-mail addresses and web sites. The author is the recipient of a Lowell Thomas Award from the American Society of Travel Writers. Send e-mail to for information on ordering via the Internet.

Costa Rica’s Natural Parks and Preserves: A Visitor’s Guide by Joseph Franke. Profiles nearly forty parks and preserves and their distinct natural habitats. Information on regional history and the ethics of ecotourism is included.

Insight Guide to Costa Rica edited by Donna and Harvey Haber. Hundreds of color photographs and informative essays introduce the people, cultures, history, and environment of Costa Rica.

Field Guides

Costa Rica: The Ecotraveller’s Wildlife Guide by Les Beletsky. A handbook to Costa Rica’s natural history, ecology, and wildlife habitats. Text, photographs, and drawings help ecotourists identify animals encountered in the wild.

The Butterflies of Costa Rica and Their Natural History, Volume I by Philip J. Devries. For serious butterfly enthusiasts and scientists, this volume includes butterflies in the Papilionidae, Pieridae, and Nymphalidae families. Beautiful color plates illustrate each species, while text provides details on taxonomy, natural history, and distribution.

The Butterflies of Costa Rica and Their Natural History, Volume II by Philip J. Devries. A companion volume covering the Riodinidae family of butterflies.

Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica by Gary Stiles and Alexander Skutch. A comprehensive guide to 830 species of birds found in Costa Rica, all depicted in color on 50 color plates. Species accounts include details on plumage, vocalization, feeding, nesting, and distribution.


Costa Rica in Focus by Tjabel Daling A concise guide to the history, economy, environment, and culture of Costa Rica.

Inside Costa Rica by Silvia Lara. Offers a superb overview of Costa Rican society, including sections on government and politics, economy, social conditions, environment, and foreign influence.

Natural History and Nature Writing

Tropical Nature: Life and Death in the Rain Forests of Central and South America by Adrian Forsyth and Ken Miyata. Written by two young field biologists, this book of seventeen essays explores the richness of the tropical forests of Central and South America.

Costa Rican Natural History edited by Daniel H. Janzen. The definitive work on Costa Rican natural history, covering flora and fauna, geology, and climate. A Naturalist in Costa Rica by Alexander F Skutch. Skutch records his life, work, observations, and reflections during thirty-five years in the southern Pacific region of Costa Rica.

The Quetzal and the Macaw: The Story of Costa Rica’s National Parks by David Rains Wallace. Acclaimed naturalist David Rains Wallace traces the growth of Costa Rica’s park system from its uncertain beginnings to the 1990s, when the park system shelters about 10 percent of the country’s land from exploitation.

Shopping in Costa Rica

Costa Rica offers superb craft items at affordable prices. Wooden and leather goods are excellent buys, and they’re typically very well made. Wooden jewelry and jewelry boxes, utensils, serving bowls and other small ornaments can be easily transported home in your luggage. Leather purses, wallets, and briefcases are similar to those found in the U.S., but at much better prices. Fresh roasted coffee beans are a popular buy, and can be purchased in elegant gift packaging. For the best deals, however, purchase coffee in a grocery store rather than a souvenir shop. You’ll get the same quality merchandise without inflated pricing. Silver, gold, and ceramic replicas of pre-Columbian artifacts also make great souvenirs, but think carefully before purchasing anything advertised as an ‘antiquity.’ Counterfeits are common, and the Costa Rican customs inspectors may confiscate genuinely old articles. Customs will also seize most items involving furs, coral, tortoise shell, reptile skins, feathers, and plants.

Bargaining is not a common practice in Costa Rica, even at the stands of street vendors. Prices at shops and stores are fixed, just as they are in the U.S.

Shop hours: Shops are generally open from 9 am–7 pm, Monday through Saturday, often with a two-hour lunch break in the afternoons. On Sundays almost all stores are closed, but some souvenir shops remain open.

Note: We recommend that wherever possible you carry your purchases home with you, especially if they are valuable or fragile. (Remember to leave some extra space in your luggage when you are packing for your trip, so you can fit in your vacation purchases.