Former Bootham Park Hospital consultant psychiatrist BOB ADAMS has done lots of travelling since his retirement. His latest excursion took him to Costa Rica, the 'Land of Adventure'.

Until recently I didn’t exactly know where Costa Rica was, except that it was somewhere in Central America. In fact, it occupies the narrow land bridge between North and South America, just north of Panama and south of Nicaragua.

This small country is rapidly becoming the place to walk in jungles, see amazing flora and fauna, and take part in action-packed adventure. With the decline in the coffee, banana and pineapple trade, Costa Rica has invested into preserving natural assets and developing its tourist industry in a sustainable way. No high rise resorts, motorways or acres of concrete, instead scores of national parks and protected areas covering over 27 per cent of the country. In fact we could learn a lot from the Costa Ricans. In my view York would be an even more beautiful place if we had areas of protected forest and marshland right up to the city’s edge...

In the spirit of Pura Vida (Pure Life), a phrase which encapsulates the culture of Costa Rica, Barbara and I set off on the long flight direct from Gatwick to San Jose, the capital. We justified flying by persuading ourselves that if it wasn’t for air travel, Costa Rica would not get its tourists, and without tourism, the country could not survive without cutting down rain forests, as is happening now in other Central American countries.

We opted for a two-week tour in a minibus with a driver and guide, the best way to get an overview of the country. The maximum number per trip was sixteen but we started with thirteen. Sadly one of our group became unwell and had to return home.

Costa Rica is a tropical country and to enjoy it to its full potential you have to do some hiking in the jungle heat. Our guide, Eduardo López, or Eddie, was exceptional, full of enthusiasm and expert knowledge about jungle beasts and plants. He even took us on night walks where we searched for tiny red-eyed tree and poison dart frogs. And we found them.

Most tours start with a visit to Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean coast. Just getting there is exciting. We had to leave our minibus and traverse a muddy bank to board a small boat for the ninety-minute trip down river to our eco-lodge hotel built on stilts in the jungle. On the way we saw our first sloth, capuchin and spider monkeys, and a crocodile.

Evergreen Lodge was not a quiet place. The cacophony of birds, frogs, crickets and other unknown creatures continued day and night. During our stay we went on boat trips and night walks and visited the turtle museum on the coast. I am sorry to say the British were partly responsible for the decline in the turtle population that thrived for millions of years, by our penchant for turtle soup. If you visit at the right time of year you can see turtles laying their eggs in the sand and the ‘hatchings’ making their risky journey back to the sea.

We then travelled west to Arenal, stopping off for a night at Serapiqui and visiting an organic pineapple farm on the way. At Serapiqui we went on another night walk and the next morning spotted exotic multi-coloured birds having their breakfast before we had ours.

Binoculars were useful. Another essential item to pack is rain gear, including an umbrella! If you think Britain is wet you haven’t been to Central America. It was meant to be the dry season but we had rain on most days. At least it was warm, tropical rain.

At Arenal we stayed at a hotel on the slopes of the volcano. Water coming off the mountain has been harnessed to fill several hot pools, hotter at the top, getting cooler towards the cocktail bar at the bottom. The décor was a bit Disneyland but it was a lovely experience to soak in hot pools while rain cooled your head. It was in Arenal that we had one of the quintessential Costa Rica experiences, a visit to an organic farm followed by a delicious ‘farm-to-table’ meal. We had to crush sugar cane in a mangle to make our aperitif.

Next stop was the Monteverde National Park situated nearly 5000 feet up in the central region.

Again just getting there was an experience. Another boat ride, this time across a huge reservoir where we spotted kingfishers and egrets, then another van ride up muddy tracks to the high mountains. We were heading to see the cloud forest, unusually dry and sunny when we got there. We had a full day at the Selvatura Park, starting with a tour led by Eddie around the hanging bridges. These take you high up into the forest canopy. From time to time we heard a buzzing sound, which turned out to be the zip lines buzzing over our heads, our next activity.

I haven’t felt so scared for years. During the build up we had to sign a disclaimer before being strapped into harnesses and donning helmet and gloves, followed by a safety talk. We then rode a total of thirteen zip lines, one over a kilometre long. I passed on the ‘Tarzan’ swing at the end, although Barbara had two goes. Finally there was an experience none of us will ever forget; the humming bird garden. These tiny, brilliantly coloured birds hover right next to you and even land on your hand to get at the syrup feeder.

Next up was Rincón de la Veija National Park, three hours drive to the north west. We stayed at a working ranch in wooden chalets. After a walk to bubbling mud pools we had the choice of another challenge. Most of us chose tubing, which turned out to be spinning around for five kilometres down a raging torrent on something like a large rubber ring. Exhilarating for me, but Barbara had other views.

The last trip was to the Pacific coast, where we stayed for three nights. Our hotel overlooked the long, largely deserted Carrillo Beach, near Sámara. The next day we were taken on a dolphin-spotting trip where we also admired pelicans and did some snorkelling.

Still craving adventure some of us then took an optional extra, kayaking down a river, past a mangrove forest to the sea.

Costa Rica lived up to all expectations. We will always remember trying to find the elusive sloth as it hung, upside down, high in the trees. And of course the Costa Rican speciality, gallo pinto (beans and rice) that we had every day for breakfast.

We booked with Exodus Travels. The trip chosen was the Costa Rica Adventure. Flights were from Gatwick to San Jose with British Airways.