Guatemala's Scarlet Macaw. Photo © Al Argueta.

Las Guacamayas Biological Research Station

Las Guacamayas Biological Research Station sits amid verdant jungle on the shores of the Río San Pedro, a 20-minute boat ride from the village of Paso Caballos. It is one of the best places in Petén to combine wildlife-viewing and rainforest trekking while staying in relative comfort, offering easy access to the ruins of Waka’ and the surrounding forests.

Sámara seen from a Flying Crocodile ultralight flight. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Flying Crocodile Ultralight Flight, Costa Rica

Want to try a flight in an ultralight plane? Head to Playa Buena Vista and the Flying Crocodile Flying Center where Guido Scheidt, a licensed commercial pilot, will take you up in one of his state-of-the-art fixed-wing or autogiro ultralights. Trips from twenty minutes to three days are offered, as well as lessons; stay in one of the nearby cabins for the full experience.

Male green iguana in orange mating color. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Plan a Visit to the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge

Caño Negro is a bird-watcher’s paradise. The reserve protects the largest colony of neotropic cormorants in Costa Rica and the only permanent colony of Nicaraguan grackles. The reserve is also remarkable for its large population of caimans. Find out all you need to know about visiting the refuge and surrounding area.

Sámara seen from a Flying Crocodile ultralight flight. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Planning Your Time on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula

Known for its magnificent beaches and a long dry season with sizzling sunshine, the Nicoya Peninsula is the epicenter of Costa Rican beach vacations. Most tourism activity is along the dramatically sculpted Pacific shoreline. Although each beach community has its own distinct appeal, most remain barefoot and traditional, appealing to laid-back travelers who can hang with the locals and appreciate the wildlife that comes down to the shore.

Because of its strategic location, the Dúrika Biological Reserve serves as a refuge to many endangered species, such as the Harpy Eagle. Photo © Brian Gratwicke, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Buenos Aires and the Durika Biological Reserve

The gateway to the northern section of Parque Internacional La Amistad is Buenos Aires, a small agricultural town in the midst of an endless green ocean of piñas. Here you’ll find the Reserva Biológica Durika, a self-sufficient agricultural community operating an authentic ecotourism project that welcomes visitors.

Peccary at La Selva Biological Station. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Plan a Visit to La Selva Biological Station

One of Costa Rica’s premier birding sites, La Selva Biological Station offers guided nature walks with phenomenal wildlife viewing. There are a handful of tours offered, including an early-bird walk and for those who choose to overnight in comfortable dormitories, a nocturnal tour.

Scuba divers set out from the Águila de Osa Inn at Drake Bay. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Things to Do in Drake Bay, Costa Rica

On the north side of the Osa Peninsula, Drake Bay lies between the mouth of the Río Sierpe and the vastness of Parque Nacional Corcovado. It’s a good base for sportfishing and scuba diving, and for hikes into nearby wildlife refuges and the national park.

Stela 5 at Takalik Abaj. Photo © Simon Burchell (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

The Ruins of Takalik Abaj, Guatemala

The archeological site of Takalik Abaj, meaning “standing stones,” is particularly interesting because it reveals elements of Olmec influence in early Mayan culture. Learn about the ruins and how to get there in preparation for your visit, along with recommendations for where to stay to explore the surrounding landscape.

Currasow. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Explore La Garita, Costa Rica

La Garita is an excellent stop for nature lovers, boasting a botanical orchid garden and a wildlife rescue center that welcomes visitors to explore its expansive grounds. There are also two lovely places to stay–one modestly appointed but wonderfully comfortable and the other a far more lavish, luxurious property–that make the trip especially pleasant.

Vegas Alta and Baja are on the north coast of Puerto Rico. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Things to Do in Vega Alta and Vega Baja

The highlight of the Vegas is definitely Punta Cerro Gordo, a gorgeous piece of coastline that boasts one of the island’s best publicly maintained beaches and a great camping area, but remember to take time away from the surf and sand to explore the history, culture, and beautiful sights of the area. Expert author Suzanne Van Atten talks festivals, cultural hotspots and exploring the outdoors in Vega Alta and Vega Baja.