3 Hiking Safety Tips in Costa Rica That Will Save Your Skin
Everyone who has been hiking a few times starts considering themselves a professional, but there are some hiking safety tips in Costa Rica that will be helpful to hikers of all experience level. The reason these tips come in handy is that Costa Rica is serious about their environmental conservation efforts, and some seemingly ordinary things may get you in some severe trouble.
To Cut Your Own Path, Or Not?
First and foremost, do not, I repeat, DO NOT make your own hiking trails. For the 99% of people in Costa Rica, life is extremely safe. There is, however, a criminal underground that can make things for adventurers a little difficult. Again, most people will never encounter this criminal element on their guided and solo hiking experiences, but forging your own path may have you mistaken for a poacher or drug runner; or worse, coming into contact with poachers or drug runners.
The best case scenario is that you don’t get caught and you disturb the natural habitat of the wildlife in the area. But that isn’t necessarily a great situation either. You may or may not have heard about the debate over whether sunscreen is killing the coral reefs of the world off or not, but even something as innocuous as that may cause irreversible damage to the environment. What else do you have in your backpack that may be potentially dangerous?
Even though the chances of encountering the criminal underground or destroying the ecosystem are pretty slim, the chances of getting lost aren’t. The jungle is dense, slippery, and pretty unrelenting for those unfamiliar with the area. A compass may be your friend, but you never know if True North will take you to a cliff face or river, and then what will you do?
For your own safety, stay on the trails provided in the area. If you’re a true adventurer, there are guided hiking tours and even nighttime hikes available all around and are they are fairly easy to find.
Is Jungle Hiking All That Different?
Certain aspects of hiking remain virtually universal. Things can get a little weird in the jungle though. This is mainly because of the humidity of the air and dampness of the foliage in the area.
Are you expecting to get good footing? Well don’t, the leaves in the jungle often have the consistency closer to that of a banana peel when in large groups. It may seem totally unrealistic that every cartoon character slips right off of a cliff thanks to a well-placed banana peel, even the most common leaves in the area can have that exact effect.
Being extremely vigilant when hiking through the jungle isn’t negotiable. Not only is the floor wet, but so is everything else. Tarzan may make swinging on vines look easy, but living vines are tremendously slippery. Counting on an advantageous vine to pull yourself out of a tight spot may just cause a grim injury. Luckily a twisted ankle is usually the extent of this mistake, but a rapidly swelling ankle for another 4 miles of hiking is definitely not the business!
But I Don’t Mind Bugs!
The number one life-saving tip, around the world, is to use insect repellant. You may not mind a few bugs flying around you, but trust me, they come in swarms, and they want what you have. In particular, you’re going to have a big issue with the well-known mosquito.
Bill Gates recently did a study on the deadliest animals in the world, and the number one killer out there is the mosquito! You may be thinking, “but they aren’t even poisonous!” and that’s where you would be wrong. They just happen to spread the widest array of diseases in the world due to the fact that they eat blood for sustenance.
This means that malaria, dengue fever, Zika Virus, and numerous other disease are a possibility with each mosquito bite in several areas of the world. Just because you may not be in a region known for malaria, that doesn’t mean the tourist it bit before you didn’t!
The only way to safeguard yourself from these diseases is to use insect repellant and to apply it generously.
There are so many things to consider when hiking, but one that must be remembered is hydration. Jungles are extremely humid, so we suggest bringing at least double the amount of water you would for a desert hike. This is because you will be sweating so much more than in the desert. Seriously, a LOT more sweating. So please, drink more than you think you should and then drink more.
The last tip, leave the animals alone! It seems like a no-brainer, and you aren’t likely going out there to hurt any animals. However, that doesn’t mean that a scared animal won’t hurt you! Even if the worst they can do is scratch you, they might carry diseases under their fingernails.
Hike smart, and bring a powerful lens on your camera if you want to take photographs with the animals.
We hope you’ve gotten some great information about hiking safety tips in Costa Rica, if you have any questions about scheduling incredible hiking tours, call us at (US) 949-208-1158, or (Costa Rica) 506-2643-2182, or email us at [email protected]!