by Shannon Farley
Costa Rica – home of ecotourism and thrilling adventure tours – is not usually the first vacation destination people think of for travelers with disabilities. However, the country’s tourism industry is working to change that image and make Costa Rica’s famous attractions more accessible.
So far, reports are positive from tourists who have enjoyed accessible vacations in Costa Rica. Several of Costa Rica’s national parks and tour attractions either have fully accessible designs or have added elements that are wheelchair-friendly and designed for people of all abilities.
Carara National Park opened the country’s first “universal access” trail in the rainforest in May this year. The trail is made of permeable concrete and provides easy access for persons in wheelchairs and elderly visitors, with special ramps and wheelchair accessible bathrooms. There are information signs in Braille, along with wooden sculptures of animals, for visually impaired visitors to touch at nine stations along the 1.2 km (3/4 mile) loop trail; an audio guide also is available.
Poás Volcano National Park, in the Central Valley, is also completely accessible with paved walkways, ramps and information aids. You can freely go right to the volcano’s immense 1.7-kilometer-wide crater and viewpoint. Irazú Volcano National Park is mostly accessible due to its relatively flat terrain by the main crater and concrete walkway leading from the parking area to the first crater viewpoint; there are plans for more improvements.
Since national parks are public places, and Costa Rica’s Equal Opportunities Law for Persons with Disabilities requires disabled access in hotels and other public places, the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) is investigating how they can make more of Costa Rica’s national parks accessible to people of all abilities. There are plans to improve Manuel Antonio National Park on the Central Pacific Coast, Tenorio Volcano National Park in Guanacaste, and Guayabo National Monument in Turrialba.
Some of the top Costa Rica tours that are wheelchair-friendly include Pacific Rainforest Aerial Tram near Jacó Beach, Monteverde Cloud Forest Train in Monteverde, Lankester Botanical Garden near Cartago, and Veragua Rainforest Research & Adventure near Limon in the Caribbean region.
Getting around Costa Rica with disabilities is more difficult on your own than if you seek travel assistance from a reputable travel agency. Costa Rica travel expert Team CRT has experience helping disabled travelers with special needs requirements. They can arrange transportation, hotels, tours, etc. that are accessible to wheelchairs, disabled and elderly visitors. Team CRT organizes nature tours, beach vacations, adventure tours, family vacations, relaxation vacations, honeymoons and golf vacations.