Costa Rica is an extremely lucky country. Nature is condensed. In a list where giants like China, Russia, or the United States are, tiny Costa Rica is listed as the smallest most macrodiverse country, meaning that this land has more life diversity in one square mile of forest, than many other areas of the World, -including complete continents- in all its territory.
But, then the question remains… How easy is to see this life? Because life diversity goes from fungi to mosquitoes… Is it really something that a traveler can easily spot?
Well! Yes! Diversity all together is there! And the sight is unbelievable! When you see the forest from the plane… It is truly a breathtaking view. When you see it more upclose and personal, it is even better… Life is there! At its best!
But then, again…. Life. How about animals?
Well! Depends on where you go, but if you ask our travel consultants you will easily find that there are animals that are not only visible, but almost hard to avoid when traveling through our nature trails and national parks. Here is a list of the ten most common animals of Costa Rica, their locations and some of their habits:
1. Howler Monkeys
Howler Monkeys are all over Costa Rica, as long as you are in nature. Except for the high mountains, you see them in Monteverde and Arenal as much as you see them in the Caribbean and the Pacific Coasts, as much as you see them in the North and the South.
They travel in groups of ten to twelve members always directed by an alpha male and their distinctive call is audible from many miles apart.
Easier to spot them in the mornings when they are eating tender new leaves (80% of their diet). Super easy to see them in: Tortuguero, Corcovado, Manuel Antonio and the dry forests around the resorts of Guanacaste.
2. Spider Monkeys
The biggest monkeys in Costa Rica. They are a bit harder to spot than howlers or whitefaced. They live in groups of up to twenty five or more memebers, however they spent the days by themselves or at the top with two or three other monkeys. Their diet is based on fruits and that is why depending on the season it is easier or not to spot them.
In the North Pacific their fur is reddish as in the Caribbean it is yellowish.
Easier to spot in: Tortuguero, Corcovado, Rincon de la Vieja and Cahuita National Park.
3. Squirrel Monkeys
These are the smallest of all Costa Rican monkeys. They are agile and funny and travel in large groups of up to forty or fifty members.
They eat fruit as much as leaves or insects, and they are very easy to spot in the hotels near the National Park in Manuel Antonio.
They are located in the South Pacific side of Costa Rica, starting in Manuel Antonio and going all the way down to Piedras Blancas, Corcovado and Pavones.
4. White Faced Capuchin Monkeys
Together with the howlers these are probably the easiest to spot in the rainforests of Costa Rica. They travel in large groups and are omnivorous, meaning that they eat everything: fruits, leaves, insects, eggs. Their appetite is infinite and it is very tempting to feed them… Don’t! It will really harm them! Let nature feed them!
They can turn aggressive and my recco is definitely never look up to them with your mouth open! As they are very territorial and can throw sticks and poop to unwanted visitors.
They are all over the country in the rainforests. Tortuguero, Corcovado, Rincon, Arenal, Sarapiqui, Monteverde, etc.
Really really cute! They are easy to spot if you know what you are looking for… Especially if it is rainy! They live up in the trees and sometimes they just turn into a beige-green fur ball impossible to see. Their diet is based on leaves, and they come down from their tree to “go to the bathroom” once a week, which is one of the few times you can actually see them on the ground.
They are all over the country (Except for the high mountains), Corcovado, South Caribbean, Manuel Antonio, Arenal and Sarapiqui are the easiest areas to see them.
The two toed sloth are a bit harder as their habit are nocturnal but not impossible at all.
There are six species in the country, from the super colorful keel-billed to the small green jacamar. All of them with their distinctive beaks and their radiant colors.
Their main diet are nuts and seeds, however they can go for eggs and even other birds.
Easy to spot them on the higher branches of trees before or after the rain.
7- Agouti Paca
Small and cute. It looks like a cute tailless big rat. They eat nuts and big seeds and have the habit or saving them around the forest, becoming one of the strongest seed dispersers of the life systems.
You see them in the hotel gardens or forest grounds, mainly in Manuel Antonio, Dominical and the Southern part of the country.
However they are also easy to spot in Corcovado, Rincon and Arenal.
8. White nosed Coatimundi
They travel in large groups of females and babies and they are a common sight in the area of the road surrounding Arenal Lake. As much as in Rincon trail Las Pailas.
They mainly eat fruits, seeds and nuts, however as they are omnivorous, they have been unfortunately fed by tourists for years, causing all sorts of health issues and aggressive behavior.
You can see them in Arenal, Tortuguero, Rincon, Corcovado, Manuel Antonio, etc.
9. Resplendent Quetzal.
When you see a quetzal flying free in a cloud forest you can totally understand why they were considered gods.
Their iridescent colors, their long tail and the way they move, with elegant swifts of their tail from one side to the other, make them one of the most beautiful sights in the higher mountain forests.
You can easily see them in Zona de los Santos: Santa María de Dota and San Gerardo de Dota. Also in Los Angeles de San Ramon (Harder) and Monteverde.
Scarlet Macaws or Green Macaws… You hear them from the distance. Their squeaking voice is quite distinctive… You look up, and there they go! Sometimes only a couple, sometimes groups of ten or twelve! They are such a gorgeous sight! With their bright colors and their free flight!
Scarlet Macaws can be found on the Central and South Pacific, from Carara to Corcovado and Golfito. Green Macaws can be seen in Tortuguero and the Northern area of the country (Boca Tapada, Caño Negro or Sarapiqui).
Written by Olga Sáenz C. for Camino Travel (All rights reserved)