Costa Rica, Recommended References

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Learning Spanish

Far and away the best taped language programs are the Pimsleur series, available for about 11 languages. These are easy to use in the car and very effective if you are willing to devote 30 minutes/day for 30 days. You can order them from in various packages.

Learning about the Rainforest

We were really sorry that we didn't learn more about botany, biology, and the rainforest. It would have made our trip more interesting and we could have appreciated the excellent guides and naturalists we encountered.

Donald Perry was one of the first researchers to explore the canopy from a platform. He chronicles his time in Costa Rica in Life Above the Jungle Floor (Simon and Schuster; 1986).

Every naturalist in Costa Rica carries a copy of A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica by Gary Stiles and Alexander Skutch (Cornell University Press; 1989), which has nice illustrations of every bird.

If you're bringing a child to Costa Rica, you'll want to first get Mark Plotkin's beautifully illustrated The Shaman's Apprentice. Of course, if you want to be able to answer any of your kid's questions, you'd better first read Plotkin's Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice : An Ethnobotanist Searches for New Medicines in the Amazon Rain Forest

You'll find dozens more interesting books listed in the booklist of Christopher Baker's Costa Rica Handbook.


People who were driving and/or going the super-low-budget route swear by the Lonely Planet guide. I like the way this book is organized for drivers, but think it shortchanges readers on historical and biological background.

We traveled with four guidebooks, but I came to rely almost exclusively on the Costa Rica Handbook from Moon Publications.


It is tough to beat Wikipedia.

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