Because Costa Rica has so many different climate zones, there are many different kinds of vegetation. High in the mountains you will find the páramo, covered with grass and squatty trees. A bit lower you will see the cloud forests. Monteverde is one of the best known places to see the cloud forest, but also south of San José, in the surroundings of San Gerardo de Dota (Dantica Lodge), you can experience this special climate zone. Sometimes you will walk with your head in the clouds for a whole day!
Large part of the vegetation in Costa Rica is tropical rainforest. You can find it on both coasts. Moreover, in the northern part of Guanacaste, you can find the tropical dry forests. In the south you will find the mangrove trees, with their roots in the water. The mangroves are an important breeding place for many fresh and salt water fish. Without mangroves many species of fish would risk extermination. Mangroves areas are conserved nature areas in Costa Rica.
The national flower of Costa Rica is the orchid Guaria Morada (see picture)
The national tree is the Guanacaste (to be found from sea level till 900 m). It has wonderful seeds in the shape of ears.
Animal life is very diverse. Here you can see some numbers and highlights:
|around 865 species of birds||quetzal, motmot, hummingbirds, vultures, toucans, parrots, trogons, kingfishers, woodpeckers and the national bird, the ‘yigüirro’|
|some 150 kinds of amphibians||dart poison frogs, big toads|
|about 215 species of reptiles||snakes, lizards, iguanas, ctenosaurus, crocodiles, caymans and of course turtles|
|more than 240 spiecies of mammals||sloths, monkeys, coatis, jaguars, agoutis, ant eaters, bats, raccoons, tapirs|
|at least 35,000 insect species||morpho butterfly (spectacular large and blue), leaf cutting ants, and many many more …|
|water animals||dolphins, humpbackwhales, turtles, parrot fish and 130 kinds of fresh water fish|
Some animals you will specially find in certain places in Costa Rica. Turtles come ashore in Tortuguero (Caribbean coast) and close to Tamarindo (Pacific coast). You can find many dart poison frogs in the cloud forests in the mountains. In Manuel Antonio National Park or on a boat tour through the mangroves of the Sierpe River you will certainly find sloths. You can also find capucin monkeys, howler monkeys and squirrel monkeys there. Most of the spider monkeys live on the Caribbean side of the country.
The sea animals are of course very interesting too. Along the Pacific coast you can see humpback whales from July till October, and from January till April. They visit the coast at Marino Ballena National Park, south Pacific, to mate and give birth to their babies. But you can also admire them on the south side of Nicoya Peninsula. Get some information at one of our Pacific coast hotels. The northern as well as the southern part of the Pacific coast is suitable for scuba diving. You will see reef sharks, large rays, parrot fish, and many more. A wonderful place for diving is Caño Island.
Costa Rica protects wildlife. Therefore it is not allowed to swim with dolphins. Commercial zoos are being closed, so that there will only be rescue centers for animals in need. You can visit the Jaguar Rescue Centre on the Caribbean coast, close to our hotels El Arbol, Geckoes Lodge and Tree House Lodge. Well worth a visit!
Costa Rica is a paradise for bird watchers.
The country is situated between North and South America, so that there will always be migrating birds in Costa Rica that come either from the north or from the south, to escape winter.
More than 865 species of birds have been spotted in Costa Rica. Of course there is a website with a lot of information and pictures about the birds in Costa Rica. Have a look here.
- For bird watchers we offer a special bird watching trip of 19 days.