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Award-winning wildlife documentaries such as Planet Earth are watched by tens of millions of people. There clearly is an appetite to learn more about the world’s wonderful creatures and the ever-changing environment they inhabit. And more importantly, how we can help protect these animals, many of which are endangered. However, there is nothing more visceral and thrilling than seeing wildlife in their natural habitat. With hushed tones, a rustle in the canopy of trees, and a glimpse of fur - it can be a truly memorable experience. One that makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck, moments that can move you to tears.

Wild Costa Rica


While Africa is often the destination of choice in order to see a gamut of animals, Costa Rica is fast becoming one of the best countries to spot wildlife. It has a staggering 500K different species and accounts for six per cent of the world entire species population. Not only that, but Costa Rica is also one of only 20 countries with the highest biodiversity in the globe. With that in mind, if you really want to see an incredible variety of animals, insects and creatures then a wildlife holiday to Costa Rica is the perfect way to get close to nature. We round up some of the best wildlife you could spot in this stunning Central American country.

Toucan

Costa Rica is home to six different species of Toucan including the Black mandible and the Rainbow-billed. These unusual birds famed for their oversized beaks have an unusual call which can be heard distinctly throughout the rainforest, although with their coloured bills and necks, they can easily be spotted in the tree canopies, too. They’re a social bunch and like to hang out in small flocks, and like nothing better than feasting on fruit and on insects.

Toucan

Jaguar

The King of the Wild and the only big cat to inhabit Costa Rica, the endangered jaguar is extremely elusive and you’ll be lucky to see one. This fierce cat loves to live near rivers, and because much of Costa Rica’s jungles are protected reserves, there is ample room for the jaguar to roam. The jaguar’s coat resembles that of a leopard although they are much larger and stockier, and make formidable predators - ‘jaguar’ actually means pouncing killer. Jaguars are known to inhabit several nature reserves but you’re best chances of spotting them are in Tortuguero, Corcovado, Monteverde and Santa Rosa National Parks. 

Jaguar
 

Sloths

These gentle creatures spend 90% of their lives upside down and asleep. There is much love for sloths - from their smiling faces to their laidback demeanours. There are two types of sloth - the three-toed and the two-toed, and six different species in Costa Rica, of which there are many. With a guide who knows where to look,  just by hiking in several of the National Parks including Corcovado, and Manuel Antonio you should help achieve sloth-spotting success. Our wildlife holidays in Costa Rica included guided walks to both of these parks.

Three toed sloth

Crocodiles and caimans

The American crocodile can be found in Costa Rica’s mangrove swamps and rivers and can grow up to five metres long! Because of hunting and loss of habitat, numbers of crocodiles are dwindling, however, it is still possible to get within safe distance of these fearsome reptiles, particularly in viewing spots including ‘Croc Bridge’ and on our croc safari in the Tortuguero Canal. 
Caimans which are the smaller than crocodiles, but still a fair size, and the spectacled caiman has a bluish-greenish colour or a yellow/brown twinge it can camouflage easily in the still muddy floors of swamps and lakes. You shouldn’t have a problem spotting them as Costa Rica has many!

Caiman

Monkeys

Costa Rica is home to four different monkeys - Capuchin (white-faced), Spider, Howler and Squirrel monkeys and wildlife enthusiasts will be thrilled to see them. Watch as troops of up to 40 monkeys swing from tree to tree foraging for fruits and insects and playing with one another.While Capuchins can use tools to open seeds and nuts, Spider monkeys can let go with their arms and hang from treetops with their tails. Howlers’ screeches can be heard from up to three miles away and Squirrels spend 99% of their lives in trees!The country has a healthy population and you will be able to see them in National Parks including  Manuel Antonio.

Squirrel monkey

Red-Eyed Tree Frog

It is believed that this amazing amphibian’s scarlet bulging eyes are a true warning to predators considering them for dinner. When it feels threatened it flashes its eyes and reveals its huge webbed orange feet and blue and yellow flanks. Yet despite its appearance, the Red-Eyed Tree Frog is not venomous and it resides in lowland rainforest canopies feasting on crickets, flies and moths with their sticky tongues. 

Red eyed frog
 

Ocelots

Found in forests all across Costa Rica, Ocelots are twice the size of a domestic cat but with a stunning speckled coat. Often the target of hunters for their beautiful fur, they are endangered and their only natural predator is the jaguar. They’re largely nocturnal animals who stalk monkeys, iguanas, frogs and rabbits but unlike other cats, they can swim. Ocelots can be seen in Corcavado and Monteverde. 


Ocelot



If you want to see some of these amazing creatures and more our Costa Rica tours will take you back to nature and enjoy some spectacular sightings


Article published on: 26th May, 2020

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Ting

Ting has a serious case of wanderlust. Having travelled to over 40 countries, it’s her mission in life to make her way through her ever-growing list. Her two young sons have also caught the travel bug, and recent trips have seen them making snow angels in Iceland while watching the Northern Lights, as well as walking alongside elephants in South Africa.


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