Lands in love

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Costa Rica wildlife adventures

It’s hardly a surprise that Costa Rica is one of the most popular destinations in Latin America. Despite occupying a small area (it’s less than half the size of England) Costa Rica offers a bewildering abundance of natural wonders. Active volcanoes, lush jungle, wild rivers and beautiful coastline somehow all manage to squeeze into this colourful Central American country.

Yet it’s the wildlife that very often persuades many visitors to make the journey across the Atlantic to Costa Rica. The variety of species that live here makes it a fantastic place to come with a pair of binoculars, a good camera and a curiosity to come face to face with some of the world’s most colourful animals. Here are just a few of the creatures you might encounter on your holiday in Costa Rica.

Big Cats

Jaguars and ocelots (sometimes known as ‘dwarf leopards’) roam the jungles of Costa Rica although your chances of spotting them are not high. They are nocturnal animals and avoid human encounters whenever possible. Take a trip to the Osa peninsula or float along the Pacuare river and it’s quite likely that even if you don’t see them, one of the big cats will be watching you from a safe place.


Come to Tortuguero in the summer months and you might be privileged to witness a truly unforgettable event. It is at this time that the native turtles trudge across the beach to their favoured spot where they build their nests and lay their eggs. Visitors are able to watch this remarkable spectacle although strict rules apply to ensure the turtles are not disturbed, in what for them really is a matter of life and death.


Costa Rica really is a paradise for bird-watchers. Even if you’re not someone who would think of spending a day in a bird hide back at home, you’re bound to be amazed by the spectacular birds on display here. The toucan is perhaps the best known bird in Costa Rica, with its distinctive beak and colourful body. But the highlight of any birdwatching trip to this region is a sighting of a quetzal, surely one of the world’s most beautiful birds.

Many hotels offer birdwatching adventures that cater for both the casual ‘oooh, isn’t that pretty!’ observer and the die-hard twitcher.


Spend any length of time in the green interior of Costa Rica and you’re bound to hear the cries of monkeys. If the sound you hear is the type of horrible screeching noise that would terrify anyone who heard it for the first time, you’ll be in close proximity to a howler monkey. They are harmless enough despite their fearsome cries, but they do have a habit of peeing on human passers-by. You have been warned.

Spider monkeys are more sophisticated and can be seen jumping through the canopy, vigorously shaking a tree to let you know of their presence. And the white-throated capuchin monkeys, another common sight, are perfectly agreeable as long as you don’t lay claim to a banana within their sight!

And that’s not all. On a holiday in Costa Rica you might be lucky enough to see sloths, bats, anteaters and even whales. Keep your eyes peeled and don’t forget your camera!