Wildlife and nature in Costa Rica

Directly translated from Spanish as ‘rich coast’, Costa Rica is one of the most naturally diverse countries in Central America. It serves up a multitude of ecosystems, ranging from mangrove swamps and tropical rainforests to mountainous volcano ranges and coastal retreats.

Living in harmony alongside these abundant habitats, Costa Rican’s embrace their natural environment and more than one quarter of the country is classed as protected land.

Rainforests and jungles

The rainforests of Costa Rica are among some of the most productive and unique ecosystems of the world.

In the southwest and lowland Atlantic regions you’ll find tropical rainforests, while on the high slopes of volcanoes and mountains you’ll be met with cloud forests blanketed in a mysterious mist. In the lower elevations on the North Pacific coast, less dense, tropical dry forests abound and you can explore mangroves filled with natural life.

Over 10,000 plant species have been documented across Costa Rica’s rainforests. Visitors here can expect to spot giant orchids, towering trees thickly coated in moss blocking out the sun, long looping vines and layers and layers of rich vegetation. The country’s national tree, the Guanacaste – also the name of a region – produces wide umbrella-like canopies that make the perfect hiding place for the slow moving sloth.

Hiking and horseback riding are popular on the ground, with ziplining above the canopy another firm favourite. At Isla Damas you’re able to experience kayaking and safari float trips, while around the volcanic ranges visitors can rappel down waterfalls and explore the thick cloud forests adorned with bubbling hot springs.

Must-see animals

Costa Rica occupies a unique location, where the Southern and Northern American continents connect. As a result, animal species from both continents mix in a way seen nowhere else in the world, with the rainforests and jungles home to over 230 species.

While most visitors will almost certainly come into contact with one of Costa Rica’s four monkey or two sloth species, be sure to take a guided tour through the extensive network of national parks to observe brightly coloured tree frogs, coyotes, anteaters, pacas and elusive tapirs peering out from the deep forest. American alligators, jaguars and Neotropical River otters are also on the to-see list.

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