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For such a small country, Costa Rica packs in a huge amount of biodiversity. Its compact size and rich variety of plant and animal life make it the perfect destination for a wildlife holiday, as you explore steaming jungles and twisting mangrove forests, mist-shrouded cloud forests and pristine beaches, you’ll be sure to stumble across colourful and spectacular examples of native animals.

In fact, Costa Rica is generally agreed to have the highest density of biodiversity in the world, with 500,000 animal species found on this little sliver of land between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, many of which you will not find anywhere else in the world. Thanks to its 12 climatic zones, animals are granted a huge variety of landscapes in which to specialise, and Costa Rica’s size makes it an easy country to navigate so that you have a great chance of spotting wildlife on your holiday.

Whether that’s heading to the Caribbean coast to witness leatherback turtles hatching and making their way to the sea, or trekking through the jungle in search of scarlet macaws, toucans and white-faced capuchins, Costa Rica’s wildlife is sure to amaze you from day one of your Central American adventure.

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Get off the beaten track in Costa Rica

There are few countries on earth as rewarding as Costa Rica when it comes to spotting spectacular wildlife in a richly varied, but small, piece of land. On a wildlife holiday in Costa Rica, you can be gliding past alligators and crocodiles in mangrove forests one day, then spotting birds of paradise in the cloud-forest canopy the next.

With local guides who are experts in their field, you can get right off the beaten track to the untouched wilderness you would never find yourself, and with their help spot wildlife like howler monkeys, red-eyed tree frogs, and if you’re really, really lucky, leopard or ocelot.

Why Costa Rica is the perfect wildlife holiday destination

Costa Rica is blessed with twelve distinct biomes, including cloud forest, tropical rainforest, beaches, volcanoes, mangrove forest, and rivers and waterfalls. This, combined with the fact that millions of years ago what we now know as the country of Costa Rica formed a land bridge between North and South America, creating a melting pot of different flora, fauna and animals, means there is an incredible amount of wildlife you can spot on a holiday in Costa Rica.

person hiking in costa rica

The country is also a leading example of how to protect the natural environment through ecotourism. The government has incentivised farmers to cultivate trees rather than cattle, and as the country rakes in 1.92 billion dollars per year through the ecotourism industry, which focuses on protecting and preserving biodiversity, locals have a clear reason to also conserve the wild areas.

All this means that 27% of Costa Rica’s land has protected status, creating havens for wildlife all over the country. It also means that the money you spend on a wildlife holiday in Costa Rica goes towards protecting the country’s greatest asset for attracting tourists – its environment and biodiversity.

Top spots for spotting Costa Rica’s animals

Virtually the entire country is crawling with life, but if you’re looking for something specific, then it’s good to have an idea of where you want to visit to get the very best experience.

For example, if you’re keen on seeing turtle nesting, you want to arrive on the Pacific coast (in particular the Nicoya Peninsula) in the months from September to November. On the Caribbean coast, Tortuguero is one of the best areas, at any time between March and October.

Head to the mangrove forests on the Pacific coast (in Puntarenas Province) for sightings of caimans, iguanas and capuchin monkeys. Of course, Costa Rica’s many national parks and conservation areas also make great places to spot wildlife, like Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, where you can see spider monkeys, porcupines, hummingbirds, scarlet macaws and so much more.

Why choose Not In The Guidebooks?

We’re passionate about helping people find the most amazing experiences on their travels, through meeting local people, exploring new places, and discovering alternative activities that make holidays special. We do this by carefully selecting partners in countries around the world who are experts in their local area, sourcing interesting people who can guide you through immersive experiences.

We’ve got local partners all across Costa Rica, from the Pacific coast to the Caribbean. Choosing a Not In The Guidebooks holiday in Costa Rica means you don’t have to choose between a beach holiday or an activity-filled break, you can get the best of both worlds with a unique trip.

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