Hiking is one of the most popular outdoor activities in Costa Rica. Many national parks, rainforests, volcanoes, waterfalls, and viewpoints in Costa Rica require a short or a long hike for exploring the area. Also, many resorts here have well-maintained hiking trails for the guests.
What is hiking?
Hiking is a long and vigorous walk on trails of mountains or natural environments. It also involves walking outdoors on a trail, or off trail, for recreational purposes.
Benefits of hiking
For the unversed, hiking has many benefits for the body, mind & soul. Hiking is believed to reduce stress levels, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and body fat. It can improve mood, mental well-being, and bone density.
Most importantly, hiking helps you connect with nature. Nature can heal your soul, and the fresh air can clear your mind. Going outdoors to hike also helps you to get Vitamin D from the sun, which is rare in today’s sedentary lifestyle.
8 Hiking Tips For Beginners
Now, if you are a beginner and have never hiked before, you probably think of it as something that is not made for you. But, we can help you get started with hiking with these helpful tips.
1 Choose the right trail
Depending on how active you are in your daily life and the kind of lifestyle you have, you should choose the trail. One way to select the distance for the hike is to calculate the average distance you usually walk. Reduce a little from this number for your hike, as you will be walking on an elevated trail and the oxygen levels may also change.
2. Be familiar with the trail
Before heading out for the hike, it is advisable to familiarize yourself with the trail. One way to do that is to look up the internet for reviews & suggestions and then analyze the reports and the data.
Most of the tourist places in Costa Rica have a map with properly marked trails and information right at the entrance. It is advisable to click a picture of the map from your cell phone. When looking at the map, take mental note of the intersections where you could possibly take a wrong turn and lose track.
3. Check the weather condition
It is always wise to keep a regular check on the weather conditions in the area where you are planning to go hiking. It will prevent you from getting surprises during the hike. Leading to the day of the hike, look for the weather forecast and be adequately prepared.
Some places like Braulio Carrillo National Park receive rainfall throughout the year. If you are not someone who likes to hike in rain, better avoid going to such places.
4. Pack the essentials
There are some essentials that everyone should pack so as to be prepared for breakdowns, danger, or mishaps. Some of the things that are very helpful during hikes are – a water bottle, a multi-tool, a first-aid kit, a lightweight backpack, a map, a hat/cap, sunglasses, and a headlight (if you are planning to hike in the dark or return after sunset).
5. Wear the right clothing and footwear
Wearing comfortable shoes and clothes is the foremost aspect of planning a hike. Most of the places in Costa Rica are either cold, rainy, or have mosquitos. Therefore, it is advisable to wear covered, comfortable clothing and footwear to protect yourself from such elements.
If you are going hiking to a high altitude, you may consider wearing layers of lightweight clothing. It will not only protect you from the cold but also make it easy for you to wear or remove layers according to the temperature.
6. Stay hydrated
Now, one thing that you should absolutely not forget is carrying a water bottle with you for the hike. Long hikes, especially in the sun, can make your body lose up to two-quarters of water through sweating. This reduces your endurance and wears you out faster. Sipping water at regular intervals will help you make the most of your time. Remember to drink more than you think is needed!
Almost all the tourist places in Costa Rica have water stations with drinkable water. Do not forget to fill your water bottle from these stations.
7. Eat well
If you have had a good meal before the hike, you will feel enthusiastic and full of energy throughout the hike. But as important as it is to eat before the hike, it is equally important to eat during the hike. It works just fine to pack light snacks and energy bars for the hike, as supplying your body with the necessary nutrients is important.
It is important to note that very few national parks and tourist places in Costa Rica have a restaurant inside. Mostly you are on your own for food supply once you enter the area.
8. Listen to your body
Always, and always listen to your body. If your body is not able to cope with the increasing altitude or dropping temperature, or new aches and pains are surfacing, take them seriously. Depending on the intensity of the problem, you should either call off the hike or make a note of these difficulties. Noting these down will help you to be better prepared for your next hike.
Stress at work and in our personal lives can be very overwhelming and going for hikes once in a while is a good way to keep stress at bay. We are hopeful that these tips will motivate you to start planning your hike immediately!