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Edward Stourton's Heaven On Earth



Monday 11 February 2008

Radio and TV presenter Edward Stourton on the rich diversity of Costa Rica.

I've been through Portugal, America and France phases but my favorite destination at the moment is Costa Rica, which I visited for the first time last year.

It boasts amazing rainforests and highlands, and glorious coastlines, and you can get around the country pretty easily - usually in funny little planes that are initially rather alarming but actually rather fun.

After leaving the capital, San José, the first thing we did was to visit Arenal, a live volcano. You ride up the side of it on a horse, and swing through the forest on a canopy tour - if you go at night, you can see the lava, a pretty spectacular sight.

Despite its small size, Costa Rica boasts an incredible diversity of flora and fauna - we saw the most fantastic flowers, even in the airport hotel's gardens - and is full with national parks.

We visited the Manuel Antonio National Park on the pacific coast, which has the most marvelous beaches right on the edge of the jungle. At the same time, you are within easy walking distance of a comfortable hotel.

However, the thing I like most about the country is that it's so easy-going: everything works but is quite informal, so you can combine an exciting adventure holiday with European-style efficiency. The food - in particular the seafood - is also very good.

We went during rainy season, which ought to have been a bad time but was fantastic: we had lovely sunny mornings punctuated by stupendous thunderstorms, but we were also treated to the most fabulous sunsets. The trip really whetted my appetite and I'd love to visit Costa Rica again.


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