In Your Element in Costa Rica

Category: Central America
Date Posted: 2013-08-19

Ancient philosophy teaches that the world is shaped by four elements: earth, water, fire and air. According to the Greek text Kore Kosmou, "of living things, some are made friends with fire, and some with water, some with air, and some with earth, and some with two or three of these, and some with all. Each soul, accordingly, while it is in its body is weighted and constricted by these four."

It continues: "Whereas snakes and all creeping things love earth; all swimming things love water; winged things, air, of which they are the citizens; while those that fly still higher love the fire and have the habitat near it."

But humans, on the other hand, aren't necessarily content to stick it out on terra firma. In fact, we've designed various machines to allow us to go beyond the confines of our biology to explore the depths of the oceans and the upper reaches of the atmosphere.

One of the most obvious times to immerse yourself in the four elements is on holiday; and as destinations go, they don't come more exciting than Central America's adventure capital Costa Rica.

 

Costa Rica Bird

Photo credit: Costa Rica Bird by VancityAllie, on Flickr

Earth

With a quarter of the country protected land, Costa Rica is not somewhere you'll have trouble finding virgin earth to explore. From hiking through the lush cloud forests of Monteverde on the lookout for some of the hundreds of native birds species to making footsteps on the white sand beaches of Manuel Antonio, holiday experiences don't come more organic than this.

 

Tropical Beach, Costa Rica

Photo credit: Tropical Beach, Costa Rica by GothPhil, on Flickr

Water

With not one, but two coastlines - the Pacific and the Caribbean - as well as many lakes, rivers and waterfalls, Costa Rica is a mecca for those who love getting wet. Surf towering waves on some of the world's best breaks, snorkel in crystal-clear coves and white-water raft down churning rivers.

 

Arenal Volcano - Costa Rica

Photo credit: Arenal Volcano - Costa Rica by Ardyiii, on Flickr

Fire

Costa Rica's landscape is shaped by fire. Running from the north-west corner to the centre of the country is a series of towering volcanoes, whose magma has made fertile the soil and provides the heating source for the many hot springs, which are hugely popular with tourists.

Many of these volcanoes are still active, and until a few years Volcan Arenal in La Fortuna used to put on a regular display of fire. Even if you don't get to see a volcano in action, you can still walk onto the lava fields to see the blackened chunks of magma that are evidence of previous eruptions or climb to the top of many of them to enjoy incredible views of the surrounding jungle.

 

Costa Rica Canopy Tour

Photo credit: Costa Rica Canopy Tour by Captain Kimo, on Flickr

Air

If the birds of Monteverde inspire you to take to the skies, you're in the right place, because Costa Rica is the home of zip lining.

In places like Arenal and Monteverde, strap yourself in for an adrenalin-pumping ride as you zoom across the treetops with the wind in your hair and only a thin cable for support - it's the closest to being a toucan you'll ever get.

As you can tell, if you're an adventurous type, you'll definitely be in your element in Costa Rica, where holidays really are made of earth, water, fire and air. Aristotle and Plato would definitely approve.