If seeing wildlife in the wild sparks your interest, Costa Rica is the place for you! You might even discover a new variety of bromeliad or orchid. Costa Rica has the largest portion of national parks and protected areas in the world. One quarter of the country is set aside to preserve the natural beauty of plants and wildlife. It has just 1% of the world’s landmass but 5% of its biodiversity. In other words, you can see a lot of different plants and animals in a small area, increasing your odds of spotting another bird for you list. Big cats, tapirs, four kinds of monkeys and iridescent butterflies are just a few of the species waiting to be discovered by you as you wander the parks and preserves of Costa Rica. Or you might be startled by a spiny-tailed iguana, the world’s fastest running lizard.
Talk about exotic birds! If you are a birder, there are over 840 species of birds that have been identified in Costa Rica. As in much of Central America, the avian species in Costa Rica are a mix of North and South American species so you can spot birds native to the southern hemisphere without going farther than CR. Quetzals, toucans, macaws and umbrella birds are among the most colorful and striking.
A pioneer of ecotourism, Costa Rica draws many tourists to its extensive national parks and protected areas. In the 2011 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index, Costa Rica ranked second among Latin American countries. It ranks third of sixty countries covered in the 2014 Global Green Economy Index. In the sustainable tourism category, Costa Rica is ranked first.
Plants and flowers may be of more interest to you. If so, be sure to look for the Guanacaste, or ear pod tree, due to the shape of its seed pods. It is the national tree of Costa Rica.
You will want to look out for parrot flowers, bamboo orchids, achiote and star fruit. You will be able to find most of these at a local market if you want to eat the fruits or take home the flowers. But seeing them in the tropical forest is amazing. It’s fun to see some old favorites in the wild, like ginger and cocoa. What a place!