Costa Rica: you might know this country from its impressive display during the 2014 World Cup. But even if their...
Costa Rica: you might know this country from its impressive display during the 2014 World Cup. But even if their football ability is what put Costa Rica to the front of many people’s minds, it’s the wildlife that will keep it lodged in their memories. Many experts consider the land of the Ticos (which translates to “very small”) to have the highest biodiversity of any country in the world. So we had to find out why.
We sent Senior Designer and photographer Hugo King-Fretts to this Central American haven to see Mother Nature in action. What he saw and snapped is far too much for one post to cover but, to offer a taste of what to expect when you visit, Hugo has highlighted four of his experiences with the Costa Rican wildlife.
Tell us about sharing your accommodation with the wildlife…
Howler monkey at Tortuguero lodge
“The whole site was filled with wildlife. We were walking to our rooms, by way of the pool and restaurant area, and suddenly there was a group of female howler monkeys, one carrying an infant, passing overhead. They capered along the edge of a building taking no notice of us whatsoever. They nibbled on some fruit from a nearby tree and, as quickly as they appeared, they were gone.
“Only slightly further along we spotted three toucans high up in another tree: a rare and unexpected sight. It’s amazing how much wildlife just walks into your space and out again… Or was it us walking into their space?”
How different is Monteverde by day and night?
Hummingbirds are readily seen in Monteverde
“It was magical being so close to hummingbirds. They buzz around your ears and the beat of their wings is so fast that it hums, changing pitch as the bird makes tiny adjustments to its flight. One flew under my umbrella; I could feel the air on my neck from its beating wings, but within a moment it was gone again. That was a moment I’ll never forget.
“Later that night our guide told us he had a surprise in store, and on the way we spotted fireflies in the darkness… ‘You’re in for a treat’, he said, as he ruffled the ground with a twig near a small burrow. The sounds of the forest made this evening eerie enough, but then we saw it emerge: eight hairy legs. A tarantula!”
It’s called a rainforest for a reason, isn’t it?…
It doesn’t rain, it pours at the Tortuguero River
“The rain fell with such ferocity that it looked as though it was rising up from the river. I wondered what I’d be able to photograph if it didn’t end. Fortunately, a team spotting effort allowed us to see many types of bird, sloths, monkeys, iguanas, plenty of insects and even a crocodile!
“As the rain eased, our guide picked up a homemade water-bailer and emptied the now three- or four-inch deep lake in our boat. The sun came out and just like that it was hot again. I looked around after this bizarre experience to see my friend’s hair steaming and thought: ‘this is nature’s washing machine’. Costa Rica is so diverse and the rainy season is what helps it flourish, so experiencing such conditions definitely increased my appreciation of its beauty in the dry.”
You weren’t the only species on the beach, were you?…
Expect iguanas to say hello when in Costa Rica
“Back home you get seagulls pecking at your food, so seeing a group of crafty raccoons pinching someone’s crisps was an interesting twist – unless it’s your lunch I suppose! This was a situation you just wouldn’t normally find yourself in. And nor was the scenery: thick jungle rolling down on to the beachfront before turning into aqua-blue water.
“Raccoons weren’t the only animal visitors to the beach – a vivid blue iguana, the size of a cat, was also mingling with the sun-worshippers. And the monkeys of Manuel Antonio know that with people comes food. The Costa Rican government, however, does a good job asking visitors not to feed them; they care about their country.”
Costa Rica has more to offer the world than just the beautiful game. It’s a stunning country of sublime tropical surprises that allows the intrepid traveller to feel as though they are walking through an open-air zoo. You share the territory with the wildlife; they walk and fly through, reminding us of the precious diversity of the planet we live on and the wildlife we need to preserve. Costa Rica is quite simply nature at its best.
To learn more about this fascinating country watch our Costa Rica Podcast: