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Horseback Riding in Costa Rica

Horseback riding is an excellent way to explore the beauty of Costa Rica. For centuries it has been part of the local culture and a means of getting to some of the country’s remote destinations. With its national parks, pristine beaches, and smoldering volcanoes, Costa Rica offers a variety of ecosystems that can be discovered by horseback.

Imagine galloping in the sand of Flamingo Beach or trotting under the canopy of the cloud forest. The possibilities are endless. Most major cities and luxury hotels offer horseback riding tours to the beach, rainforest, mountains or waterfalls. Tours range from two hours to two days, with prices averaging about $100 per day.

The demand for such an adventure has resulted in the increase of unlicensed tour operators. In areas near Arenal and Monteverde, horses are often overworked and malnourished. Enquire about the history of the company, health certificates, and the condition of the animals. Affordable tours are not always the best option. Below is a list of Costa Rica’s best horseback riding destinations.

Central Pacific Coast
Located in the Puntarenas province, Hacienda Baru is an ideal place to horseback through the 336 hectares of nature reserve. Just south of Manuel Antonio, park entrance is free to those who pay for a horseback riding tour, which generally start at $25 for a two hour trek. Steep trails meander into the coastal hills – from the beaches and mangroves to the plantations and rainforest. This area is home to over 330 species of birds and 49 species of reptiles including tree frogs, lizards, and snakes. On horseback, riders can enjoy the beautiful fruit orchards, cocoa plantations and lush forests filled with butterflies, orchids and other flora and fauna.

Just 1.2 km south of here is Dominical beach, popular for both surfing and horseback riding. In the southern Golfo Dulce area of this region, horseback riding is available at Zancudo Beach, as are fishing and surfing.

Northwestern Costa Rica
The Guanacaste Province has dozens of horseback riding tours, beginning at $10 per hour. Look for the more established riding stables in this area, especially near Monteverde where horses are often overworked on the muddy trails. Most companies offer day treks through the rainforest or to look out points from Arenal Volcano.

With its cool 18 C (64 F) temperatures and mountain views, Monteverde is considered one of the county’s best places to go horseback riding. The humidity and rain keep this area lush and green year round. Several tour companies have access to local family farms where visitor’s can enjoy quiet trails, bird watching, sugar cane and coffee plantations, open fields and tropical rainforest. These treks also offer views of the mountains, canyons and the Gulf of Nicoya near Nosara.

A popular horseback trip is the trek from Monteverde, past Arenal Volcano, to Fortuna. Due to the distance and stress on the horses, it is better to combine this trip with a jeep or boat ride. Combining horseback riding with other means of transportation is an enjoyable way to experience several adventures in one. A combination tour, starting at $65, allows you to spend 3-4 hours on a horse rather than a full day.

The small village of Montezuma, located at the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, offers horseback riding along the beach starting at $25 per half-day. Some companies will guide you to nearby waterfalls and the nature reserve.

Also in this region, Drake Bay has guided horseback tours for $50 per day. Trails traverse from the beaches to Claro River. This area is extremely popular for fishing, snorkeling, diving and hiking. Tours here are particularly well suited for groups of varied riding levels, and for those who have interest in activities beyond riding.

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