Get Away from the Crowds in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a world class wildlife destination, with many different ecosystems and landscapes teeming with wildlife and birds. During the peak months of December to March when the weather is best, some of the more popular destinations can get busy with visitors and make it more difficult to see the wildlife. To give yourself the best chance of seeing the variety of wildlife Costa Rica has to offer, consider going off the beaten track to one of these lesser known destinations:
San Gerardo de Dota & Los Quetzales National Park
San Gerardo de Dota is only 85 km southwest of the capital San Jose, and is an absolute delight for nature lovers and bird watchers. It is one of the few areas where the Resplendant Quetzal lives throughout the year, and is popular with serious birders for that reason. San Gerardo itself is an isolated village nestled in a valley, a river running through it and surrounded by high mountains. The lodges cater specially to birders and many are linked by trails which climb the mountainside giving wonderful views of the surrounding cloudforest. The climate tends to be wet and rather cold, particularly at night.
The view over San Gerardo de Dota
Palo Verde National Park
Palo Verde is a vast wetland area at the mouth of the Nicoya Gulf in the northwest province of Guanacaste. The area is hot all year round and mostly dry - surrounded by tropical dry forests - but the flow of many of the areas rivers creates a complex zone of evergreen forests, marshes, mangroves and swamps. This diverse ecology makes the area a habitat for a great variety of birdlife, such as White Ibis, Scarlet Macaws, Storks, Jabirus and Anhingas (Water Turkey). During the dry season when water is scarce in other parts of the country, many birds come here to the river.
Rio Celeste & Tenorio Volcano National Park
Tenorio Volcano and the surrounding national park is in the northern lowlands of Costa Rica, covered in lowland tropical rainforest. Similar to Arenal Volcano National Park but more remote and with only a handful of lodges, this is an ideal place to get away from the crowds and discover the rainforest. The Rio Celeste (Blue River) which gives the area its name is coloured blue by the calcium carbonate and sulphur from the nearby volcano. Tapir and Puma are known to live in the area (although rarely seen). More often seen are Capuchin Monkeys, Sloths and many species of birds.
The Waterfall at Rio Celeste
Osa Peninsula & Corcovado National Park
Considered the last truly wild area of Costa Rica, Corcovado National Park is found on the Osa Peninsula on the Southern Pacific coast. In this and the surrounding area that extends from the Baru river to the Panamanian border and from the Talamanca mountain range to the Pacific coast, there are lagoons, mangroves, rivers, rain forests, lowland cloud forests, and 28 miles of sandy coastline.
The Southern Pacific is rich in flora and fauna, and its environment serves as a refuge to animals in danger of extinction such as the tapir, panther, and scarlet macaw. In the Corcovado area 500 species of trees, 140 of mammals, 367 of birds, 40 of fresh water fish, 117 of amphibians and reptiles have been identified.
White Faces Capuchin Monkey