South Pacific Tourism Guides
Come and visit Costa Rica’s southern Pacific region, with its varied lansdcape that ranges from the ocean coast to soaring mountains. The area is famous for its biodiversity, with 2.5% of the world’s species. It also has Costa Rica’s highest peak, Cerro Chirripó, at a height of 3,824 meters above sea level. The region has 10 protected wildlife areas and 9 indigenous territories, and a dizzying array of microclimates and fertile agricultural regions. It is a stunning example of Costa Rica’s authentic rural life with its multiethnic and multicultural population.
The southern Pacific region is made up of two main areas: first, the coastal region, stretching from Domincal in the north to Punta Burica at the country’s southern tip. The second, the Cordillera de Talamanca mountain range, is home to a diverse array of natural attractions. It is a place that is known for its impressive biodiversity, natural beauty and rich landscapes. Several wildlife areas of significant importance for nature and tourism are found here, allowing visitors to participate in a variety of activities. Hiking some of Costa Rica’s highest mountains, horseback riding, river rafting, sport fishing, waterfalls, adventure tourism, birdwatching, and the incredible variety of flora and fauna, including packs of spider monkeys, a species that is endemic to Costa Rica’s southern and central Pacific coasts.
The southern Pacific is an ideal place for tourists looking for adventure and ecotourism options. It’s a region rich in contrasts, where tourists can enjoy opportunities to visit beaches with lush tropical vegetation in the cantons of Osa, Golfito and Jiménez (not included in this guide, see link), or head to the country’s highest points, where low temperatures and geological formations are home to some of Costa Rica’s most fascinating ecosystems. The rivers and cascades that can be found here add to its incredible scenic beauty.
The Cordillera de Talamanca is home to several state-run protected wildlife areas, including the Chirripó and La Amistad National Parks, which include a Ramsar site and a World Heritage Site recognized by UNESCO. These areas, along with the surrounding indigenous territories, make up La Amistad Biosphere Reserve.
This mountain range is the highest in all of Central America. It extends from the southern end of Costa Rica’s Central Valley and continues into the Republic of Panama, where it is called the Cordillera de Chiriquí or Central Cordillera. In Costa Rica, the Interamericana Sur highway will take you to one of the highest mountain peaks in the mountain range, Cerro Buenavista, at 3,491 meters. It is more commonly known as Cerro de la Muerte, or the Mountain of Death, since the crossing from the Valle del General to San José used to be exceptionally dangerous due to the low temperatures.
The La Amistad-Pacífico Conservation Area covers most of the Pacific slope of the Cordillera de Talamanca. Its land area ranges from 100 meters above sea level to the country’s highest peak, Cerro Chirripó. La Amistad National Park, a beautiful area of exceptional conservation and scientific value, is shared between this conservation area and that of La Amistad-Caribe. It is also a Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site.
Since 1982, La Amistad International Park has formed the nucleus of La Amistad Biosphere Reserve, an area that includes other neighboring protected wildlife areas (including Chirripó National Park) and the surrounding indigenous territories of the Pacific and Caribbean regions. It is the country’s largest protected wildlife area and it is currently the only binational park, since it extends for over 200,000 hectares into Panama. The park is called “International” because it extends into the neighboring country of Panama, which protects an additional 207,000 hectares. Its area includes tropical wet forests, rainforests and cloud forests, as well as páramo environments and mountains with rocky crowns and cold swamps that are only found in small areas at extreme elevations.
La Amistad International Park contains seven life zones and six transition zones. This richness reflects Costa Rica’s role as a biological bridge and a filter between South America and North America. The value in this protected wildlife area is its incredible diversity of ecosystems due to differences in elevation, soil, climate and relief, including páramos, swamps, forests of oak, madroño and fern, and mixed forests.