Diverse and abundant, Costa Rica’s wildlife is the country’s single biggest attraction. Allow a minimum of three weeks for the below, longer if you want to go deeper into Corcovado.
1 Parque Nacional Tortuguero
Green, hawksbill and giant leatherback turtles, plus howler monkeys, sloths and caimans – not a bad way to start any trip.
2 Reserva Rara Avis
Remote jungle lodge in the heart of the Sarapiquí region, with an impressive birdlist and a bounty of unusual reptiles and amphibians.
3 Refugío Nacional de Vida Silvestre Mixto Maquenque
This important wedge of protected rainforest on the border with Nicaragua represents the country’s last refuge of the stunning, great green macaw.
4 Refugío Nacional de Vida Silvestre Caño Negro
Wily caimans basking on the riverbanks during the dry season; migratory birds swell the resident populations during the wet.
5 Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Ostional
At certain times of the year, thousands of olive ridley turtles storm the beaches at Ostional in one of nature’s most spectacular sights.
6 Parque Nacional Carara
The hot northern lowlands meet the humid southern Pacific at Carara, meaning even greater varieties of wildlife, from armadillos and agoutis to both types of toucan.
7 Parque Nacional Corcovado
The one place in the country where you have a realistic chance of seeing a tapir, an ocelot or even the famously elusive jaguar.