Northern Lowlands

The Northern Lowlands Region of Costa Rica presents diverse scenery with a variety of pastures, wetlands, jungles, rainforests, cloud forests, and river webs. Situated between the Pacific and Caribbean and nestled against the Nicaraguan border, the Lowlands Region contains diverse flora and fauna as well as spectacular attractions. On the edge of the region's rolling flatland landscape, the imposing Arenal Volcano sits as one of Costa Rica's most-popular destinations, producing amazing shows of molten rock and ash.

The sweeping plains of the Northern Lowlands are home to tourism, banana plantations, and many cattle ranches. Positioned north of San José and the Central Valley, east of Guanacaste, and west of the Caribbean coast, the Northern Lowlands are ideally situated for a detour from the beach or city. The region contains a large number of easily accessible national parks, biological stations, and wildlife refuges- haven for any outdoor lover.

Until 1957, the region remained isolated from the country's main economic and cultural center, San Jose. Not until Highway 126 connected Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui with the capital city did the region become one of Costa Rica's most vital organs. Timber harvests throughout much of the lowlands, cleared the way for it large cattle industry. However, during the rainy season, many of these areas now flood with Costa Rica's overwhelming rainfall, creating many wet swamps and marshes.

The region's geography is composed of two main flatlands: Llanuras de los Guatusos to the west and Llanura de San Carlos to the east. Two mountain ranges border the region along its southwestern perimeter: the Tilaran Mountain Range (Cordillera de Tilaran) and the Central Volcanic Mountain Range (Cordillera Volcanica Central). Both ranges snake their way from northwest to southeast, splitting the country down its middle. To the northwest, the Guanacaste Mountain Range (Cordillera de Guanacaste) divides the Northern Lowlands from the Guanacaste Providence. All three mountain ranges are dotted with volcanoes and cloud forest. Together, they surround the region and contribute to its scenic beauty. From the mountain peaks, an intricate system of rivers and streams meanders to the lowlands, where the rivers supply nutrients to lowland fertile soil.

In order to access the destinations of La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano from San Jose, head northwest through Alajuela (46 mi, 73 km) and either continue through San Ramon, or take Hwy 141, which runs through Sarchi and Ciudad Quesada. Alternatively, pass by La Paz Waterfall, traveling north from Alajuela and turning through San Miguel and Aguas Zarcas. La Fortuna is located 75 miles (120 km) from San Jose and 16 miles (25 km) from Ciudad Quesada.

Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui can be reached by taking Highway 126 north to San Miguel. Then, head northeast on Hwy 4 through La Virgen and Chilamate until you reaching a city with the Sarapiqui River (Rio Sarapiqui). Another scenic way to drive is to take Hwy 32, the Guapiles Hwy, northeast from San Jose, which will take you through the lovely Braulio Carrillo National Park (Parque Nacional Braulio Carrillo).

Northern Lowlands, Costa Rica, Central America

Guided Tours

Hiking

Hot Springs

Nature Walks

Safari Float

Rappel

Zip Lines

Suspension Bridges

Rafting

Bird Watching

& More

Northern Lowlands

Top Attractions

Destinations in Northern Lowlands

14 destinations

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Costa Rica Attractions

Heres a list of Costa Rica's Amazing Sights and Attractions

Attractions
Destinations
Flora Fauna
Flora Fauna
 

Rhinoceros Beetle

 

House Gecko

 

Monkey Tail (Guaba chilillo)

 

Glass Frog

 

Common Basilisk

 

Great Green Macaw

 

White-Faced or Capuchin Monkey

 

Glasswing Butterfly

 

Spectacled Caiman

 

Armadillo

 

Hawksbill Sea Turtle

 

Leatherback Turtle

 

Pink Shower Tree

 

Fishing Bulldog Bat

 

Scarlet Macaw

 

Stinking Toe Tree

 

White Leadtree

 

Long-tailed Hermit

 

Boa Constrictor

 

Olingo

 

Common Dolphin

 

Fiery-billed Aracari and Collared Aracari

 

Spiny Green Lizard

 

Ice Cream Bean Tree

 

Leaf-Cutter Ant

 

Margay

 

Puma

 

Blue-jeans Frog

 

Millipede

 

Walking Stick

 

Resplendent Quetzal

 

Monarch Butterfly

 

Long-tailed Manakin

 

Tayra

 

Green Turtle

 

Brilliant Forest Frog

 

Sperm Whale

 

Assassin Bugs and Kissing Bugs

 

Spanish cedar (Cedrela odorata)

 

Magnificent Frigatebird

 

Jaguar

 

Panamanian Night Monkey

 

Common Tink Frog

 

Zopilota

 

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan

 

Green Page Moth

 

Two-Toed Sloth

 

Fer-de-Lance

 

Green Heron

 

Narrow-headed Vine Snake

 

Bare-necked Umbrellabird

 

Collared Peccary

 

Loggerhead Sea Turtle

 

Turquoise-browed Motmot

 

Oncilla

 

Red Brocket Deer

 

Agouti

 

Jaguarundi

 

Ocelot

 

Orca, Killer Whale

 

Bottle-nosed Dolphin

 

Coati

 

Milk Frog

 

Guanacaste Tree (Elephant Ear)

 

Red-Eyed Leaf (Tree) Frog

 

Andiroba

 

White-lipped Peccaries

 

American Crocodile

 

Chestnut-fronted Macaw

 

Capybara

 

Baird's Tapir

 

Owl Butterfly

 

Blue-and-Yellow Macaw

 

Tonka Bean Tree

 

Black Ctenosaur

 

Keel-billed Toucan

 

Helicopter Damselfly

 

Vampire Bat

 

Humpback Whale

 

Barbachele

 

Fin Whale

 

Scorpions

 

Turkey Vulture

 

Green Iguana

 

Cook

 

Black Witch

 

Spider Monkey

 

Squirrel Monkey

 

Three-wattled Bellbird

 

Ground Anole

 

Saman (Samanea saman, aka Albizia saman)

 

Brown Pelican

 

Mantled Howler Monkey

 

Blue Morpho

 

Tarantula

 

Army Ant

 

Arboreal Termites

 

Chestnut-headed Oropendola

 

Violet Sabrewing

 

Olive Ridley Sea Turtle

 

Bananaquit

 

Giant Toad or Cane Toad

 

Spotted Longwing

 

Three-Toed Sloth

 

Kinkajou

 

Central American Bushmaster

 

Pacific Spotted Dolphin

 

Bullet Ant

 

Golden Orb Weaver

 

Paca