Christopher Columbus is credited with discovering Costa Rica in the 1500s and gave Costa Rica its name – directly translated this means rich coast but this country’s riches were not within the metals he was searching for. 500,000 species of the animal make this country one of the most bio-rich places on the planet. With 900 species of bird including the large Macaws, 212 Mammals, 70 lizards, 4 types of monkey and 2 types of sloth! Not to mention all the weird and wonderful flora, insects and butterflies you will see here.
What is referred to by national geographic as the most bio-diverse place on the planet, this is any serious nature lovers 1st stop? It crams 2.5% of the planet’s biodiversity into just 0.001% of its surface area. And, this being Costa Rica, 80% of it is protected, mostly by the Corcovado national park. Due to the remoteness of this most southern peninsula of Costa Rica, it is normally best accessed by boat or plane. Drakes Bay (named after England’s famous Privateer) is a favorite place to stay. Small Eco lodges dotted along the rain-forest covered coast providing a range of experiences from ‘eco-luxe’ to rustic, all focusing on living harmoniously with their surroundings. Clients have seen the elusive large cats that roam this area along with Tapirs, both species of sloth and plenty of money and Scarlet Macaws.
Where to stay?
Aguila De Osa is a rustic eco-lodge nestled amidst the jungle-covered hillsides overlooking the tranquil waters of Drake Bay. This exquisite rain-forest and marine adventure hotel have its own dock for guests arriving via boat. Aguila de Osa is committed to sustainable hospitality, so you can travel well and travel right when exploring the region. As you are so remote all meals are included at the hotel, along with tapas and music so you can swap stories & sightings with other travelers.
Enter Aguila De Osa by boat!
Copa De Arbol Beach and Rainforest Resort is a luxury beachfront eco-resort set among 70 acres of pristine rainforest reserve. Their 4 tier pool and Bali style lodgings make this one of the best hotels in Costa Rica! Copa is committed to the conservation and preservation of the Osa Peninsula, its surrounding waters, and the local communities. Due to remoteness, all meals are included at this hotel.
Southern Caribbean Coast;
The east coast of Costa Rica is a road less traveled by tourists but has been gaining traction over the last few years. You will not find any large hotels or high rises in this part of the country and its evident Caribbean vibe means you get some ‘one love’ mixed with your ‘pura Vida’.
As the rain-forest still remains fairly intact there are plenty of opportunities to see wildlife in this region. I have never seen so many sloths in a single day than I have in this part of the country! The beach town of Cahuita has a national park that runs parallel to the beach. It is common to see many birds, sloths, monkeys just from the main path as well as caimans and eyelash pit vipers! At certain times of year, you can see the raptor migration, where billions of birds travel south for warmer climates and fill the sky!
Where to stay?
Private Villas between Cocles and Punta Uva or Banana Azul on Playa Negra.
There are so many affordable rentals along this side of the country – normally tucked back up into the hillside they are slightly cooler than properties on the beach provide great views. Just let us know the size of your group and we can send over some options.
Banana Azul boasts 14 beautiful guest rooms of the main hotel, built from local hardwoods, are unique. The hotel grounds are equally impressive, surrounded by tropical gardens, a beautiful pool, and an ocean view. You can cycle into the town of Puerto Viejo in minutes and carry all the way down the coast to Manzanillo National Park!
For a different (and very immersive experience) you can sleep at a Hammock tent retreat in the mountains behind Cahuita. Terra Prima offers all-inclusive camping packages and is reserved for adventurers as it requires a horseback ride or hikes to get there, although there is a shortcut available. Enjoy their secret waterfall and do the sunrise hike for great views and chances of spotting some local animals!
Being a cloud forest this unique eco-system is a birder’s wild-life enthusiast’s haven! A day walking through the network of trails over hanging bridges is a great way to see wildlife from a different perspective. This is also where wildlife will stay very active – in the tree canopy amongst the clouds. The Resplendent Quetzal – one of the most beautiful birds in the world is regularly seen here along with 400 other species. Amongst this megadiversity of wildlife are 2,500 species of plants tens of thousands of insects and near to 5,000 species of moths. Santa Elena is the closest town and it packs tons of charm with rustic Eco-hotels to match.
Where to stay?
Monteverde Lodge and Gardens.
This rustic lodge has a very warm welcome with an open fireplace and a laid-back atmosphere. The staff is all very helpful with an informal but caring service style.
The high-ceilinged rooms are complemented by hardwood floors and expansive windows. All have private bathrooms with solar heated hot water, a sitting area, coffee maker and hairdryer. Bed options include both double and king size beds. Certain rooms have two floors, a balcony, and a glass-enclosed shower.
The food is what a Costa Rican grandmother would cook if she was also a creative and a contemporary professional chef.
Just beyond the restaurant and bar are lush gardens, replete with a stream, pond and small waterfall.
Of course these are just a few of the many options you have in Costa Rica to see wildlife. The best results you will have is by identifying when you can travel. When you have a time frame we can help identify what wildlife is most active during those times and if the weather will be kind to you or not!