Two-Wheel Territory: The Tops in Mountain Biking

Costa Rica: Two-Wheeling in the Tropics

Costa Rica may well be the most ecologically rich and geographically diverse region of its size on the planet. In this unique bridge between two major continents, an astonishing variety of plant and animal species from both northern and southern hemispheres thrive in an ecosystem still largely undisturbed by man. Towering volcanoes, high-altitude cloud forests, pristine beaches, raging white-water rivers and dense tropical rainforests are all packed within an area the size of West Virginia. This ecological diversity in a relatively small land mass makes for challenging terrain for bicyclists, as much of Costa Rica is hilly and unpaved. But for your labor you'll be rewarded with superlative biking opportunities and views of the abundant, exotic wildlife and scenery that has earned Costa Rica the title "Eden of the Americas."

Many tour companies offer a combination rafting/biking trip, to take advantage of both the scenic roads and exciting rivers in Costa Rica. Given the diversity of terrain in this country a combination trip is an ideal way to experience all that Costa Rica offers. Begins with a 11,000-foot cycling descent from the top of the Irazu Volcano. Then cycle through the lush Turrialba area of coffee plantations and small villages, with views of the Reventazon River, and its Class III rapids you will raft the next day. Also included is a trip down the class IV rapids of the Rio Pacuare, a protected tropical wilderness river flowing through virgin jungle, and hiking around the verdant rainforest of Tiskita. If time allows, extend your trip to visit the Arenal Volcano and the Monteverde Cloud Forest.

Practically Speaking
Since biking in Costa Rica is often difficult, with dust, insects, heavy rains, and hilly dirt roads it makes sense to go with a tour. Some of Costa Rica is inaccessible by bike and it helps to have a guided route that has been mapped out according to where it is possible to ride. Also, routes can change if roads and trails have been washed out by rain, and you need an expert guide who is familiar with the terrain to redirect you. And you may appreciate the support of a sag wagon on steep hills and rutted roads. Most tours run around $1,750.


Paul McMenamin is the author, editor, and photo director of the original Ultimate Adventure Sourcebook.

Published: 5 Feb 2001 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

Best Hotels in Costa Rica

$61-$71
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Volcano Lodge and Springs
$194
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Costa Rica Marriott Hotel San Jose
$171
Average/night*
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Pumilio Mountain and Ocean Hotel

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