to Nosara, Costa Rica

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Costa Rica attracts people from all over the world because of the beautiful tropical environment it offers. Because of this, income generated from tourism is now a major part of the economic system in Costa Rica. The Nosara area is scarcely populated and has mountains, pristine forests, long stretches of beautiful beaches, and wetlands. Picture 1.1 is a group of students from the University of Houston walking through the Lagarta Bio Reserve. This reserve has a trail system open to tourists. This group traveled to Costa Rica to learn about the ecological system and to document what was learned in order to teach others. This website hopes to provide a starting point for your own discovery of Nosara, Costa Rica and to act as a starting point for those who will follow .... learn and document.

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Costa Rica is located in Central America between Nicaragua (to the north) and Panama (to the south). The country is known for its lovely weather. The dry season, from December to April draws tourist to this country's natural attractions like its beaches. The wet season brings flowers and turns the hills to lush carpets of green grasses. Costa Rica is also well known for its enlightened conservation and dedication to educating all of its children. The government makes itself so accessible to the people, that they keep like mind about their country's image as ecotourism heaven.

Running through the country is a chain of mountains and volcanos. They are part of the Andean-Sierra Madre chain. Some of the volcanos are still very active. This chain has created variations in elevation and separate the east side, along the Caribbean, from the west side, along the Pacific Ocean.

The differences in elevation give the country a variety of temperatures. Some of the mountainous areas stay below 50 F year round. Nosara, on the North Pacific side of the country (noted in hot pink), is generally about 90F year round.

Our destination was Nosara, marked by a yellow dot in Picture 1.3. It is in the Guanacaste region and bordered by two mountain ranges, Cordillera de Tilaran and Cordillera de Guanacaste.

For more information about the Guanacaste region visit:

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Getting to Nosara took some effort. We flew into San Jose and rented Jeeps (a very wise idea, by the way). The scenes along the trip were like a bit of the past. People were seen walking along the roadways, some covered with trash bags for protection against the rains. After several hours of driving on the 2-lane paved, winding roads, we took the ferry crossing at Golfo de Nicoya (Gulf of Nicoya). The ferry transports across this waterway once an hour, so the line of cars waiting for the short boat trip was long. Several of the ferry travelers boarded on foot rather than in cars or trucks. While waiting for the ferry, visitors and ticos (natives of Costa Rica) alike stood at the water's edge to see the beautiful sunset. (For a map of the roads and small towns from San Jose to Nosara, this map might be of interest:

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After crossing the ferry, we headed toward Nicoya on the way to Nosara. As we neared Nosara, we left the paved roads. Traveling in the rainy season finds you driving through puddles and across areas where the road is covered with water. None of the roads in Nosara are paved. This is an attraction for some, but it also keeps a lot of tourists away. The locals are fighting to keep the roads untouched and the quiet nature of the area preserved.

Though the roads are rough, children walk to school every day. In Costa Rica, the literacy rate is between 95-97%, which places it much higher than the U.S.

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Some houses have thatched roofs made out of palm leaves. To make the roof waterproof, extensive time is necessary to weave the leaves together (Picture 1.7). The majority of the ceilings we saw have exposed beams. Picture 1.8 is one such ceiling; this picture was taken inside one of the local restaurants. Restaurant owners use a wide variety of trees to build and decorate their establishments. As you can see in the picture of the ceiling, the trees are whole and not cut into planks.

Next, let's look at the plants and animals.

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