This post was last updated on August 26th, 2014
Costa Rica is renowned for its diverse wildlife.
With over 500,000 species, it’s no wonder why nature lovers flock from around the world in an attempt to view just a handful of them.
We typically prefer adrenaline pumping adventures to relaxed nature strolls, but Costa Rica is teaching us to slow down a bit and enjoy life’s gifts that surround us. And with so much to see in the rainforest, nature walks are turning out to be pretty darn entertaining.
Although a small country (about the size of West Virginia), Costa Rica has a variety of ecosystems—a large reason why the country contains such an assortment of wildlife in the first place. This first set of photos comes entirely from the area around the Arenal Volcano, including the popular Arenal Hanging Bridges, Cerro Chato, and La Fortuna. We might not have seen any Toucans—though we could certainly hear them—but we are still amazed at the number of animals we’ve already come into contact with.
Here are a few of our favorites:
* Please forgive us if we have a few of the names wrong. We’re no experts, but we welcome your revisions in the comments below!
Look at those long tail feathers!
Strawberry Poison-Dart Frog
We prefer its other nickname, the Blue Jean Frog. These guys are teeny-tiny, but the males make a lot of noise! If you listen closely, you can often track them down. The indigenous used to rub their arrowheads on the back of the frogs, the poison aiding in their hunting.
Leaf Cutter Ants
Don’t let their size fool you. These little guys pack a punch so strong, aboriginals used to have the ants bite their skin to act as stitches to close wounds.
Take enough pictures of them and they will begin to imitate the clicking of your camera!
We’re hoping to see a lot more of these guys when we visit the sloth sanctuary later this month. More information to come on them later!
Yellow Eyelash Viper
Named for the scales above its eyes that resemble eyelashes. Though not aggressive, they will strike back if attacked—and they are extremely venomous!
It’s easy to find lizards and iguanas if you look for sun-drenched branches.
Characterized for their iridescent feathers and long red beak.
The wings of these beautiful butterflies resemble stained glass. We’ve also seen Costa Rica’s famed Morpho Butterflies, though we were unable to take a picture at the time.
This guy was spotted crossing the road. Another car of local tourists stopped to join us in taking pictures; unfortunately, they were less than scrupulous in their interactions with the serpent. As the Boa started to slither up a hill, a man grabbed it by the body, yanking it down without giving us any warning. Dan was lucky to have a quick reaction—he jumped back right as the Boa landed where he had been standing!
A member of the raccoon family, Coatis are—in my opinion—pretty stinkin’ cute. Plus, they eat tarantulas.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to get pictures of some amazing birds and massive iguanas we saw while white water rafting, as well as various other stunning birds that know how to fly quite quickly. Wildlife photography is hard, my friends—kudos to those who do it well.
We are hoping to get some more intimate encounters with wildlife as we continue on our journey throughout the country (unless of course it’s a spider, in which case it can feel free to be anything but intimate with us). Mother Nature is unpredictable though, and as much as we would like a Quetzal to land on our shoulders, we’re going to have to patiently wait it out. The goal is to share more photos of our wildlife encounters in a similar fashion to our Tour de Vietnam Series. I guess we’ll see what we see! If you didn’t get enough of these cuddly creatures, check out more animals we spotted on our night hike in Monteverde!
What’s the coolest animal you’ve seen in its natural habitat? What would you love to see in the wild?