Following in the footsteps of Alfred Russel Wallace
June 15, 2023
Costa Rica is alive with colourful wildlife. Despite possessing only 0.1% of the world’s landmass, 5% of the world’s biodiversity can be found here. If you want to experience the natural wonders of the tropics for yourself, Costa Rica makes an excellent choice. Not only is it a manageable size, but it offers brilliant variety too! From the two coasts – Pacific and Caribbean – to the volcanoes, mangroves, rainforests and cloud forests, there is no shortage of adventures waiting for you.
There is a brilliant system of conservation at work in Costa Rica. Currently around 25% of the country is formally protected in more than 200 National Parks and Wildlife Reserves. These range from stretches of coast to volcanic peaks and tranches of forest – and most are open to visitors. Many of Costa Rica’s natural highlights are protected such as the iconic Arenal Volcano, Monteverde Cloud Forest, the Corcovado Peninsula and Manuel Antonio’s wild beaches and rainforest. You can experience these wildlife havens up close by hiking some of their trails which range from easy rambles to multi-day treks. Taking on the services of a guide is advisable if you are hoping to maximise your chances of spotting and identifying everything around you. Some areas of forest offer canopy tours so you can explore the ecosystem from high level apparatus including hanging bridges and zip wires.
Often overlooked, Costa Rica’s botanical variety is immense and impressive. There are estimated to be more than 2000 species of trees alone. Cloud Forests, permanently misty and dripping with moisture, are so dense with botanical life that it can be hard to decipher where one species begins and another ends. If you are accustomed to the relatively simple woodlands of more temperate climates, the sheer quantity of species is sure to impress. Mangroves are equally densely populated by diverse plant life. They create a unique and fascinating ecosystem which marries species from land and water.
Costa Rica’s rich fauna is as impressive as its flora and the birdlife in particular is a major draw. Effectively a bridge between the tropics to the south and the temperate zones to the north, Costa Rica is prime migratory bird territory. This brings the total number of recorded species to an incredible 850 and it’s not just the numbers which impress. There are some of the world’s most exotic and colourful species here including the Scarlet Macaw, the Resplendent Quetzal, and the Rainbow Toucan. Hummingbirds are a constant presence throughout the land – hovering among the vegetation and showing off their jewel-coloured plumage.
Among the 250 species of mammal found in Costa Rica, there are four monkeys, two sloths, and six wild cats which grab much of the attention. Monkeys can be seen quite easily in various locations but sloths and cats are tougher to track due to their nocturnal habits. Tapirs and anteaters can also prove elusive while bats are so numerous you can virtually guarantee a sighting at dusk. When spotting wildlife, local expertise is vital – knowing where to look, when to look and what to expect can make your experience unforgettable.
Frogs, snakes and lizards also deserve a mention as they are omnipresent and very noticeable. Particularly the brightly coloured (and deceptively cute) poison dart frogs which are tiny but pack a deadly punch. Crocodiles and caimans are also numerous, easy to spot and equally dangerous.
With around 250,000 types of insects, Costa Rica is an entomologist’s dream. From troops of fire ants to bugs and beetles, there are plenty of creepy crawlies to go round. Arachnophiles will also enjoy searching for the 20,000 species of spider resident here, only a handful of which are harmful to humans.
If you fancy getting to know Costa Rica in more detail, check out our destination pages. Alternatively, get directly in touch with our local experts who can put together your dream trip using their extensive knowledge of Costa Rica and the wonderful wildlife found there. All you have to do is pop some details into our enquiry form.
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