Little-known fact about Costa Rica: The countryknown for being, in essence, one big West Virginiasize eco-resortexperiences one of the highest deforestation rates in Central America, thanks to cattle ranching and logging. To promote conservation through tourism, the Rainforest Biodiversity Group recently opened Central America's first birdwatching route here. Modeled on similar trails in the United States, the Costa Rican Bird Route comprises 5,000 acres on 13 remote sites with 520 avian species. Order a map and a field guide ($13; costaricanbirdroute.com) and, once you land at the San José airport, rent a four-wheel-drive (about $50 a day) and hit the rainforest for a week of day hikes. Start in the Tirimbina Rainforest Center (about 1.5 hours northeast of San José) and make for the northernmost part of the trail, near Boca San Carlos, home to the endangered great green macaw. Your launchpad: the Maquenque Eco-Lodge (doubles, $105; maquenqueecolodge.com), next to the newly created wildlife refuge of the same name.
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