Costa Rica

Travel requirements

All visitors arriving in Costa Rica require a passport valid for more than six months. Citizens of some countries also need a visa to enter the country, so please check ahead before traveling. Camino Travel also recommends you to carry, additional to your passport, another proof of citizenship with a photo ID (for example, your driver’s license). Adults entering the country are permitted 500 g. of tobacco, 5 liters of duty-free wine or spirits, and 2 kg of candies or dainties. The Costa Rican government forbids incomers to bring fresh fruits & vegetables, plants, and live animals without official permission. The departure tax costs USD 29 per person and shall be paid in cash inside the airport the day of departure. Camino Travel recommends you to travel light when possible; prepare your travel documents with enough anticipation, photocopy your passport (it will help your embassy in case of loss or theft), and a small backpack for daily walks in the forests & beaches.

Money issues

Nowadays travelers prefer to carry as little pocket money as possible. The amount of cash to be brought depends mostly on the places you will visit and the type of holiday you are planning. If you have purchased a holiday in which lodging, transportation, tours, and meals have been paid for in advance, then you will surely need less cash than if you are traveling by public bus and staying at small rural hotels that do not take credit cards. Credit cards are widely accepted, mainly Visa and Master Card (American Express is taken in few places, and Diner’s Club is rarely allowed). When purchasing local currency – colones -, consider that Costa Rica handles almost only US Dollars; Euros are being changed in very few banks but on a very high commission. When you are in the country, bear in mind that most banks close at 3:30 pm (15h30) and do not open during weekends or special holidays.

Health & Insurances

Medical services are available throughout the country, and many doctors speak English. All the main cities & towns have a public hospital: San José, Cartago, Limón, Puntarenas, Ciudad Quesada (near Arenal), Nicoya, Liberia, and Golfito. Rural communities usually have small medical offices called EBAIS, where you can head for primary attention. Before you travel, check the routine vaccinations (Typhoid, Tetanus, Polio). Contact your local health department at home for advice on going to the Central American tropics.

Starting August 01, 2008, the recent Executive Decree published by the Ministry of Health of Costa Rica declares the vaccination against the Yellow Fever mandatory to any person who wishes to enter our national territory coming from countries that are considered at risk. The states reported at risk of the transmission of the Yellow Fever are the following:

South America: Bolivia, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia except Department of the Archipelago of San Andres, Providencia, and Santa Catalina.

If you should have any clients coming from any of the countries mentioned above, it is very important to inform them that they must receive the vaccine against the Yellow Fever in order to come into Costa Rica. The clients must carry the International Vaccine Certificate guaranteed by the World Health Organization and must be shown to the migration agent.

Additionally, we recommend you to bring all prescribed medications needed. Camino Travel suggests you to purchase in your home country a travel insurance that covers you overseas in case of illness or death, and to acquire trip cancellation insurances that reimburse you if you incur in last minute cancellations (most hotels and tour companies in Costa Rica do not reimburse late cancellations). Inform us if you have any particular health requirement (allergies, food restrictions, asthma, etc.), so that we can plan your itinerary accordingly!

Costa Rica Geography

Costa Rica is situated in Central America just 10 degrees north of the Equator. The country comprises a population of 4 million ¨Ticos¨ (local name for Costa Ricans) and a landmass of 20,000 sq miles (51,000 sq km). It is a rugged land with mountains, green valleys, active volcanoes, tropical lowlands, lakes, rivers and beautiful beaches with palm trees, and white-golden sands. The Central Valley forms the heart of Costa Rica. The capital city of San José and the larger towns of Alajuela, Heredia, and Cartago are located within it, which is inhabited by around 60% of the nation’s population. Other important places include: Ciudad Quesada (near La Fortuna), San Isidro (Southern Costa Rica), and the coastal Liberia, Puntarenas, and Port Limón. Its privileged position, in the middle of North and South America, has nourished the country with a variety of wildlife, from dolphins to hummingbirds, and with a variety of flora (e.g., more than 1200 species of orchids!).

Costa Rica History

Costa Rica is one of the oldest democracies in the Americas. Since the civil war of 1948, the country has no standing army; in fact, the Constitution expressly forbids it. During the last 50 years, Costa Rica has established a well-developed conservation system, not only nature-wise, but also regarding its social and cultural wealth. As early as 1948, a free compulsory educational system was consolidated, resulting in a literacy rate of over 93%. Almost 90% of all high school students attend public institutions, and the four most prestigious universities are still public. Generous government budgets provide medical coverage for every working citizen, resulting in an extremely low infant mortality rate and average life expectancy of over 70 years.

Some highlights you will like to visit to learn more about our history:

Weather

Costa Rica benefits from a perfect tropical, never-ending-spring climate. The average temperature is 70°F (around 21°C) in the highlands. Lowland temperatures range from the high 70’s to the low 90’s (21 to 28°C). The rainy season goes from May to November, whilst the dry season lasts from December to April. However, consider that even during the rainy season mornings are, more often than not, bright and sunny; expect as well occasional showers during the dry season. Temperatures vary little between seasons; the main influence on temperature is altitude. Pack rain gear with you, as well as light sweaters or jackets for mountainous sites such as Monteverde or the Savegre Valley. Also do not forget humidity (in some regions, like in the Caribbean or in Sarapiquí, it can reach 90%). Hydration is important in the area, since you will surely sweat!
National Meteorological Institute: www.imn.ac.cr