If your idea of holiday heaven involves trekking through the wilderness, marvelling at stunning scenery and spotting exotic wildlife, you may want to consider Costa Rica and Mexico as destinations for your next break.
The Americas are the best place to head for if you enjoy adventure holidays, with Peru, Canada and the USA all popular destinations with people who prefer camping in the middle of nowhere to nights in luxurious city centre hotels. But when planning your break it is well worth looking at what is on offer in other countries.
For example, Costa Rica has the perfect terrain for adventurous breaks, with dense rainforests, volcanoes and a beautiful coastline to explore. The government is committed to conservation and there are more than 40 national parks in the country, helping to preserve the forest and coastal habitats of all sorts of exotic flora and fauna.
A good starting point for Costa Rica adventures is Arenal Volcano National Park, where you will find one of the world’s most active volcanoes.
You could be forgiven for fearing that holidaying in the shadow of an active volcano would be dangerous, but in reality it is perfectly safe – and very spectacular. There are small eruptions every 40 minutes or so, during which lava is propelled skywards – a sight that is best enjoyed after dark from the comfort of your campsite.
The park is also home to a lake and fast-flowing rivers, creating plenty of opportunities to try white-water rafting, kayaking and waterfall climbing. Much of the area is covered by dense cloud and rainforest, which you can enjoy by trekking through it or taking a zip-line tour above the canopy.
Manuel Antonio National Park is another place you will not want to miss during your holiday in Costa Rica. It is located on the Central American country’s Pacific coast and you will find rainforest adjacent to beautiful beaches, sea caves and towering cliffs.
If you can resist the temptation to spend your time here relaxing on the beach, you can go trekking or surfing. But what really sets Manuel Antonio apart from the country’s other parks is the variety of wildlife you are likely to see.
It is easy to spot turtles and tropical fish at low tide, while exotic birds such as toucans, parakeets, vultures and motmots live in the trees. There are also three different species of monkey, along with sloths, iguanas and basilisks in the park.
Adventure holidays in Mexico are also likely to prove a satisfying choice, as the vast country has almost every type of landscape imaginable. There are a host of places to go trekking and historic landmarks in remote locations all over the country, together with some beautiful settings for water sports, both on the coast and on some fearsome rivers.
Whether you are planning an epic coast-to-coast trek across Mexico or a shorter break, one of the best ways to spend your holiday is discovering some of the country’s fascinating Mayan archaeological sites.
The ruins of Chichen Itza, the largest pre-Columbian site in Mexico, are a must-visit attraction. It was once a key city in the Mayan civilisation and although it was abandoned hundreds of years ago, you can tell from the remains of buildings such as the vast step pyramid, El Castillo, how impressive it must once have looked.
It is also well worth trekking to the mountain-top archaeological site at Monte Alban and to the lost city of Palenque, which was absorbed into the jungle after being abandoned following the arrival of Spanish settlers in the area. A lot of work has been undertaken to uncover some of the ancient buildings and you can now clearly see the palace that was once home to the city’s rulers.
Yaxchilan is also a fascinating place to visit and not just because of the ruins there. The journey itself is an adventure, as the site is only accessible by a boat ride down the Usumacinta River.
It is not the only reason you will have to take to the water during your adventure holiday in Mexico, as you will not want to miss a boat tour of the giant waterfalls in the beautiful Sumidero Canyon.