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40 • Vacations

®

Fall 2018

Vacations® •

Fall 2018 • 41

Soft Adventure

COSTA

RICA

Walking theWildSide in

Costa Rica is a nature lover’s dream destination.

During a two-week trip, writer Mariellen Ward

hiked in a remote national park, around an active

volcano, in a biological reserve, and through

a cloud forest.

By Mariellen Ward

I’m walking on the wild side in Costa Rica’s most remote and

unspoiled national park. The jungle trail is a bit slippery with

moisture from the surrounding rainforest, and it’s surprisingly

dark. Sunlight filters through the thick canopy, creating dappled

splotches on the verdant forest floor. Yet somehow our guide sees

Costa Rica’s most dangerous venomous snake, the fer-de-lance,

coiled up beside the path asleep. He says the snake is digesting and

therefore not dangerous at that moment, much to our relief.

We continue walking to a waterfall, and take our hiking boots

off to splash among the slippery, black rocks. I’m in Corcovado

National Park, the most biologically intense place on earth in terms

of biodiversity, according to National Geographic. It comprises 13

major ecosystems, including mangrove swamps, a highland cloud

forest, and the last old growth rainforest on the Pacific coast of

Central America. Corcovado is also home to some of Costa Rica’s

endangered species such as jaguars, three-toed sloths, Baird’s

tapirs, and red-backed squirrel monkeys.

We hike up to the highest point for a

commanding view of the hilly island

and the turquoise sea that surrounds it,

filled with coral reefs and an enormous

number of marine animals.

JESUS CHRIST LIZARD ©BILL RYAN

WHITE-FACED CAPUCHIN MONKEY.

©CRITTERMOMENTS.COM

RED-BACKED SQUIRREL MONKEYS ©BARBARA RYAN

RED-EYED TREE FROG ©BILL RYAN