Story: Hoang Phong

Costa Rica is a green oasis of 5 million people which produces 98% of its power from renewable sources. The government is also committed to replacing the military with an “army” of teachers, and people always wish each other “pura vida” – a pure life.

Up to a quarter of Costa Rica’s land area is designated as nature reserves, twice the ratio in developed countries and four times that of developing countries. Tropical forests comprise a major part of Costa Rica and are home to many unique species such as toucan birds with oversized beaks, agile striped tailed agouti viverrids and wooly spider monkeys with flexible and arm-like tails.

However, it is very hard to spot such remarkable creatures as a tourist alone. A visit to Corcovado requires knowledgeable tour guides, who can turn over leaves to search for tiny tree frogs hiding underneath or point out swarms of ants diligently cutting leaves and carrying pieces to their nests. They can also instruct you during a night safari to switch off your flashlights to admire the fading fluorescence of a wild mushroom species.

Costa Rica is one of the few lands that allows visitors to visit cloud forests. These rare ecosystems make up only 1% of the total forested area on earth. In cloud forests, flora can obtain water not only from beneath the ground, but also from the mist and thick cloud cover above. A large tree trunk can thus carry hundreds to thousands of epigenetic species – vines, ferns, shrubs and bushes – which grow on the trunk without draining nutrients from the host tree. On a single leaf, one can observe a shrub of wild pineapples or an orchid in fresh full bloom that are as small as the tip of a match.