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This section of the country contains arid land and sprawling cattle ranches, a windswept lake, cloud-shrouded forest preserves, deep caves with thousands of bats, lakes and swamps, active volcanoes like the arenal and rincón de la vieja, flat land, deep valleys and high mountains. The territory borders Nicaragua to the north and the Central Valley to the south, Los Chiles, San Ramón and Zarcero. If you travel north from San José, you will cross the volcanic ridges of the Cordillera Central. After about 40 km from San José you will reach the the flat tropical lowlands that go all way to Nicaragua . The so called Llanuras del Norte include the northern halves of the Provinces Heredia and Alajuela. Here you will find mixed tropical forests. the climate is generally humid and hot. Here the dry season is more pronounced towards the pacific side and less so at the caribbean side. In many remote areas in the north, especially in the Llanuras de los Guatusos and the Llanura de San Carlos, the land floods extensively during the wet season, creating vast swamps and lakes. One of this areas is protected in the Refugio National de Vida Silvestre Caño Negro. Other swamps are being used to cultivate rice. The northern lowlands have a small population and a few small towns. The exception is the Town of Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí. This remote areas lend themselves for excellent bird watching and other nature activities. Good places to start exploring this vast terretory are Selva Verde Lodge and Hacienda Guachipelín.

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Northern Plains of Costa Rica
Although not heavily populated, the cloud forests, rolling hills and one of the most active volcanoes in Central America make this a unique area of Costa Rica. A striking characteristic of this zone is the sharp contrast in topography with The Nicoya Peninsula found just a few dozen kilometers away on the other side of the Tilaran mountain range. The world-famous Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve provides an excellent chance to see many rare birds such as the resplendent quetzal, which is perhaps one of the most dazzlingly beautiful birds of the tropics. Arenal Volcano and it's constant activity draws tourists from all over the globe. Eruptions of smoke and ash can be heard and seen (weather permitting) sometimes as often as every hour. When day turns to night, the spectacle of bright red lava coursing down from the crater is an incredible sight to behold. In the nearby town of La Fortuna and dotted along the main road skirting the volcano there is an abundance of hotels and restaurants.

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