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Exploring Costa Rica


Wildlife is of course a huge attraction and a real highlight for any visit to this small tropical country. Remarkably, for its size, Costa Rica has nearly 6% of the worlds biodiversity and the world’s largest number of species per 10,000 sq km making it one of the best wildlife-watching destinations on the planet.

The list of wildlife in Costa Rica is exotic and varied ranging from crocs to monkeys, toucans to iguanas and sloths to whales. If you are serious about observing birds and animals, the value of a knowledgeable guide cannot be underestimated. Their keen eyes are trained to notice the slightest movement in the forest, and they recognise the many exotic sounds. Most professional bird guides are proficient in the dialects of local birds, greatly improving your chance of spotting them. Do have a look below at some suggestions on where to spot certain animals and let us know what you are keen to see on your trip so we can incorporate it into your itinerary for your best chance to spot them!

Whatever situation you are in you are sure to be amazed by the abundance of animals in your vicinity. Costa Rica really does deliver unparalleled opportunities for wildlife and bird-watching.

Where to see...

850 bird species have been found in Costa Rica, which is amazingly 10% of the worlds total avian population. It is not surprising that you therefore see birds everywhere you go. If there are certain species you would like to spot please let us know and we can recommend where to stay. For general birding Sarapiqui is one of the most bio-diverse regions with fantastic biological stations. Combining this with the cloud forests and the tropical Osa Peninsula will offer a huge variety of species. If you are serious about observing birds a good guide cannot be underestimated. They have keen eyes, trained to notice the slightest of movements, and are proficient in local birds dialects greatly improving chances of hearing or seeing species.
Costa Rica is home to the brown-throated, three-toed sloth and Hoffman's two-toed sloth. They can be found in plenty of National Parks including Manuel Antonio National Park and Cahuita National Park. Keep your eyes peeled however as it is very common to see them in your hotel's gardens or in trees along the side of the road. If you would like guaranteed sightings of these animals up close we can include a visit to the Sloth Sanctuary, near to Cahuita on the Caribbean coast. This wildlife sanctuary is dedicated to caring for injured and orphaned sloths with the aim to release as many as possible into the wild.
There are four species of turtle in Costa Rica; olive ridley, leatherback, green and hawksbill. They all nest on the beaches of Tortuguero making it one of the most popular places to see these beautiful animals. The nesting season is best in July & August.
Howler monkeys are found throughout the country and you are likely to hear them before you see them with their 'howls' carrying for more than 1km. White faced-capuchin are seen on the Pacific Coast, whilst the adorable squirrel monkeys can be seen throughout the country apart from the Nicoya Peninsula.
These beautiful animals are seen commonly all year-round in Costa Rica and we can arrange boat trips from many locations to get better sightings of them. Bahía Drake is home to more than 20 species of dolphin and is therefore one of the best places for viewing these majestic creatures.
Red-Eyed Tree Frog
This is the animal most associated with Costa Rica due to its striking red eyes, luminous green body, yellow and blue stripes and orange feet. Regardless of the bright colours they are quite hard to stop but they are widespread throughout the country apart from on the Nicoya Peninsula. It is likely a wildlife guide will point a few out along the way.
Migrating whales arrive from both northern and southern hemispheres and actually pass on both sides of the country, however they congregate much closer to shore on the Pacific side so we recommend here for the best sightings. Most trips leave from Uvita on the Pacific Coast or Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula. The best dates are from December through April for the California Humpbacks and starting again in July when the Antarctic whales arrive to stay until about November.
You can see crocodiles in many locations around the country but we would recommend the boat trips in the Tortuguero canals to see them in the natural habitat. Guides will point out the different types of caimans and sometimes larger species when you are here. Impressive specimens can be found under Río Tárcoles also known as Crocodile Bridge. Whilst not in their most natural habitat, as they are hand fed daily, this is a sure sighting for crocodiles and the tourism to them protects them from hunting.

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