4 Reasons To Cycle The Pura Vida In December
This will be the third TDA Global Cycling Tour that has passed through the beautiful country of Costa Rica. Riders on the Ruta Maya in 2012, 2015 & 2016 and cyclists on the 2019 North American Epic were all thrilled but their experiences on the road in this natural paradise where over 25% of the land area is protected.
Here are 4 excellent reasons to join us on the 2021 Pura Vida Cycling Tour this December.
Costa Rica has over 200 volcanoes – of which 5 are considered active! Riders on the Pura Vida will have the opportunity to visit all of them – Poas, Arenal, Irazu, Rincón de la Vieja & Turrialba. For years Arenal was famous for its constant eruptions with a spectacular lava flow down its sides but a few years ago it suddenly went quiet. Poas and Irazu are easily visited from San Jose and feature stunning crater lakes and wonderful views although Irazu, at almost 35oo m, is often covered in cloud. Turrialba is somewhat harder to visit from the capital, requiring a challenging hike, and has often been closed down due to increased activity. Finally, Rincón de la Vieja in the Guanacaste region, where the riders spend a night in the National Park, is surrounded by waterfalls, mud pools and relaxing hot springs.
At the end of the first week of riding the Pura Vida tour features an amazing 9 day stretch featuring 6 different beaches. It begins at Coco Beach, home to a small, friendly fishing village. Riders can enjoy its relaxing white/grey sand beaches and, if they have time, go for a dive at the nearby Pelonas Islands. Next up is the laid-back surf town town of Tamarindo where the cyclists will enjoy a day off, perhaps learning to surf on its perfect waves. Playa Samara is a gorgeous long beach set on a picturesque horseshoe bay while Playa Montezuma is known for its wild, rocky coastline and magical sunsets. After taking a ferry back to the mainland from the Nicoya Peninsula, the riders will stop for the night in Jaco, another surfing mecca and the site of past world championships before pulling into Manuel Antonio. On their rest day here they can make the 30 minute hike through a tropical rainforest and howling monkeys, arriving to a stunning white sand beach with turquoise waters and an enticing coral reef.
Costa Rica is well-known for its rainforests and cloud forests. The riders on the Pura Vida will be able to explore 4 of the most amazing the country has to offer. First up is the Arenal Rainforest situated around the volcano of the same name. At over 30,000 acres, this area features a number of waterfalls, including the stunning La Fortuna falls, and some soothing hot springs. Next is the world famous Monteverde Cloud Forest, one of the most important in the world with over 2500 species of plants, 400 species of birds, 120 species of reptiles and over 100 species of mammals. Manuel Antonio National Park contains a tropical lowland wet forest. Named for a conquistador who is buried there, its dense forest includes the endangered black locust tree and harbours over 350 species of birds. Finally, the riders will stop in the lesser known Los Quetzales National Park. This is another cloud forest with elevations topping out at 3000 metres. It covers 14 different ecological zones and is home to the Resplendent Quetzal, one of the most beautiful birds on the planet.
Costa Rica covers only about .03% of the world’s surface area but boasts 6% of its biodiversity. For example, it has 140 species of snakes of which 23 are venomous. Fortunately, the majority are nocturnal and are unlikely to be seen. Unusual mammals include Baird’s Tapir (pictured above), the largest land animal in Central America at 6 feet long at 4 feet high, 3 toed sloths, the lesser anteater, the racoon-like coatimundi, collared peccaries and kinkajous (honey bears). The country is also home to home to six species of wild cats – Ocelot, Margay, Jaguar, Puma, Jaguarundi, and Oncilla. It has a large number of reptiles and amphibians including iguanas, turtles, colourful frogs, basilisks and crocodiles. In fact, on the stage ride to Jaco Beach the riders will cross over one of Costa Rica’s stranger tourist attractions – Crocodile Bridge. This bridge over the Tárcoles River usually has about a dozen large American crocodiles lounging in the sun…waiting for their next meal. Finally, the country is home to a seemingly endless array of birds, from colourful toucans to iridescent trogons to scarlet macaws and gorgeous hummingbirds.