Costa Rica’s Amazing Abundance of Flora and Fauna
While many places around the word offer nature lovers stunning forest, mountain or desert landscapes to explore, few have the vibrance, color and diversity of the tiny country of Costa Rica.
Costa Rica may be small, but it’s one of the most biodiverse places in the world. Sandwiched between North and South America, species from both continents converge in this subtropical space. What’s more, a warm, humid subtropical climate and heavy seasonal rainfall make for rich soil, in which all manner of spectacular and colorful trees, flowers and plants grow.
For the intrepid nature-lover, Costa Rica features 26 protected forests, 20 national parks, 9 forest reserves, 8 wildlife refuges and 7 wildlife sanctuaries, making it perfect for thrilling eco tours. These types of tours are available across the country, and welcome enthusiastic explorers year round.
Some animals to look out for on an eco tour include:
There are 205 species of mammals in Costa Rica, ranging from familiar critters like monkeys, dolphins, raccoons, deer and bats, to exotic and unusual species like the jaguarondi, the peccary, and the smiling, slow-moving sloth.
There are nearly 900 species of birds in Costa Rica, some of which are permanent residents, and some of which are merely passing through on their way south during their migration. From brown robins, to feisty seagulls, to graceful wading birds, there are countless opportunities for bird watching in Costa Rica. If you look closely, you may even catch a glimpse of a charming and colorful quetzal or an iconic toucan or scarlet macaw.
Amphibians and Reptiles
There are about 150 amphibian species and 200 reptile species in Costa Rica. Favorites of wildlife watchers include brightly colored poison dart frogs; charming marine turtles, which nest on local shores and can be seen laying eggs almost year round; and fearsome crocodiles, which if you’re brave enough — can be seen up close on Costa Rica’s crocodile tours.
Costa Rica has the highest diversity of plants in the world. Some must-sees include:
There are around 1900 species of trees in Costa Rica. The iconic coconut palms that stud the beaches are certainly graceful, but the real gems are the many hundreds of trees that make up the rainforest canopy. Especially worth seeing are the 200-foot tall ceiba trees, and the milk trees, which have brilliant reddish-orange roots.
Costa Rica features a vast array of flowering plants, ferns, and mosses. Some of the most beautiful and exotic include orchids, bromeliads, air plants, and – perhaps most captivating of all – brightly colored heliconia.
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