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Costa Rica is a haven for wildlife, and every year nature-enthusiasts and animal lovers visit Costa Rica to see if they can spot some of the country’s most beautiful animals and birds. You can expect to see animals such as turtles, sloths, monkeys, crocodiles and caymans, and if you look to the trees and the skies, you might spot one of the thousands of bird species here too, such as quetzal, toucans and macaws.
We asked our Costa Rican Local partner and tour guide, Roberto all about his favourite Costa Rica nature reserves, and where you can find the best wildlife in Costa Rica. Keep reading to find out all his favourite places.
According to Roberto, El Jobo is a bit of a hidden gem. Not many tourists visit this area of Costa Rica, and yet it has some of the most memorable nature experiences to offer. If you’ve never seen or experienced a working turtle conservation project – it’s something incredible to witness. The magic and anticipation of watching those baby turtles head for the ocean is unforgettable.
“People don’t go here and there’s even a special turtle conservation project you can visit here too. It’s really special”
Home to some of the country’s most beautiful coastline, and stunning beaches – there is (of course) a large variety of wildlife to spot in this area of Costa Rica. It’s also home to one of the country’s largest mammals, as this part of Costa Rica provides enough sustenance to be their ideal habitat.
“If people want to see wildlife I’d recommend going to the Osa Peninsula, where there’s Drake Bay, Corcovado National park, Matapalo. These three places in the Osa Peninsula are amazing to go and see wildlife of all kinds. Osa Peninsula, is also one of the main places you can go and see the Tapir, which is the biggest mammal in the country. I’ve never seen it anywhere else, other than the Corcovado National Park. I have seen footprints in other places, but the actual animal, that’s the only place I’ve seen it. The habitat for them is perfect here”
A little bit removed from the travellers trail, Roberto loves this area of Costa Rica for its biodiversity and stunning scenery. Being a little more remote, means it’s a little harder to get to – but the wildlife there makes it worth the extra effort. You can visit this part of Costa Rica easily by booking a tour though – and our ‘Boca Pacuare & Turrialba’ tour will take you straight into the wild so you can start experiencing the famous Costa Rican wildlife.
“You can see many, many animals when you go to Boca Pacuare. The area is very isolated and remote, so it’s not easy to get there and not many people tend to go. But that’s a good thing, as the animals are undisturbed. There is rainforest as well here, and rainforest is always very biodiverse. There’s also a reserve here called Pacuare reserve, that works to conserve the turtle population of the area and you can go to see the hatchlings which is really special”
This area is one of the most well known national conservation parks in Costa Rica. Parque Nacional Tortuguero is a protected wilderness region in Costa Rica and sits on the Caribbean coastline – so attracts lots of beautiful wildlife both on land and in the sea. The beaches in this area are famous nesting spots for sea turtles, and the creeks and rivers in the park as also full of caymans and river turtles. But it’s not just marine life you can spot here (we’ll let Roberto explain).
“I have heard many stories of people seeing jaguars here, even though it’s not very common to see the wildcats. In my whole life I have only ever seen one wildcat in the national parks. There are stories though, I once had a family from France and they wanted to go see a cougar and I was telling them how rare it is to see one and the next thing you know, they were showing me a picture of one in the wild”
If you’re hoping to spot whales and dolphins, then Costa Ballena is a hot spot you won’t want to miss. This area of Costa Rica is a favourite amongst nature lovers, but not just because of the stunning beaches (of which there are many!). Beyond the beautiful coastline, there is an ocean full of marine life, and many people come to this area each year to look for whales and dolphins playing in the waves. You’ll find that a boat tour is your best option if you have your heart set on seeing whales of dolphins – as the tour boats in the region all share information on the pods of animals, to maximise your chance of seeing them in the wild.