Fauna and Flora
Travel Latin America and discover an abundance of flora and fauna that will uplift your spirit as you traverse the green canopies of the country’s living, breathing rainforests. An abundance of wildlife such as hummingbirds, sloths and butterflies populate these forests and prove its reputation as being one of the most bio-diverse areas in the world.
With more than 200 types of mammals, 850 classes of birds and over 200 types of amphibians and reptiles, you are almost guaranteed to spot a multi-coloured bird or perhaps even a gigantic thunder lizard. If you are fortunate enough, you may even be witness to giant turtles laying their eggs in the soft sand of the beaches bordering the country’s Atlantic coastline. Guided tours can be organised to witness this miracle of life itself. Local tour guides can direct you to areas that contain the wild life you wish to see.
Bird lovers will be delighted to know that the 850 species of birds are all contained in one tight area, making bird spotting easy. This can be done from the comfort of your Costa Rica villa and will cover a massive selection of our feathered friends. Other fantastic places to spot them include the oak forest of the Talamanca Mountains, which is part of Central America's highest mountain range, the lowland rainforest of the Osa Peninsula and finally to the cloud forests of Monteverde at the Braulio Carrillo National Park.
Despite the countless number of birds, there are many varieties of mammals that also compete for the eco-spotlight, as it were. Spot monkeys, bats, anteaters and more from the safety of your Costa Rica lodge. Noisy Mantled Howlers screech across the canopies as the dive from tree to tree, desperate for the juiciest fruits they can scavenge. These monkeys are important to bio-diversity, as they act as germinators and seeders for many tree species.
Frenetic, White-headed Capuchins [recognisable as the ‘organ-grinding’ monkey] live out their lives with abandon, using their high intellect to combat the many predators of the jungle. Other fascinating species include sloths such as the Tayra [which is often domesticated] and the White-nosed Coati.
At night, it is not uncommon to see a multitude of bats, such as the Spectral (the infamous vampire bat), gliding through the night sky. These nocturnal creatures pose no threat to humans, despite their outwardly fearsome appearance. Larger animals such as jaguar, deer and the tapir are amongst the more rare creatures of the Costa Rican jungles, despite their common occurrence in other parts of the world, due to the fragmentation of their habitats by man.
As you wander throughout the forests, accompanied by a tour guide from your Costa Rica rainforest lodge, you will often find the ground moving, as if it were a living blanket of red fury. This is due to the well-known ant swarms that litter the jungle, devouring small animals and carrion in their path. These insects are one of the most dangerous species of ant in the world, can grow to almost five centimetres in length and should be avoided on your travels.
An attempt to catalogue all the flora of Costa Rica would be a futile affair. There are over 9,000 species of plants and even more varieties of ferns. Everywhere you turn in this fertile country you will find green, lush, tropical foliage. As you step foot outside of your accommodation in Costa Rica you will be greeted by a sweeping vista of vegetation, the memory of which will surely remain with you for years to come.
Many of the flowers advertise their sweet nectar for the myriad of insects that call the forests of Costa Rica their home. Certain flowers even attract specific insects with distinctive patterns on their petals. The twelve ecosystems which are home to these flowers that surround the lush valleys of your Costa Rican jungle lodge are typically divided into two categories: dry forest and tropical rainforest. The wetland and swamp regions of Costa Rica comprise a largely ignored ecological area, although the nutrient rich soils of these ecosystems thrive with rare fauna and atypical insect species.
The large canopy that covers the forest like a living blanket of leaves, can grow up to 100 feet tall; this is a specific, necessary survival mechanism which guarantees successful photosynthesis for these living giants. The trunks are long and thin, with multiple branches that stretch high into the air. Unbelievably, more than half of all the living organisms on earth reside within the confines of this diverse ecosystem and there are more species of flora in Costa Rica than there are in all of Europe. The cure for any number of deadly diseases could be found growing in any one of the beautiful plants which dot the magnificent landscape.
Other notable flowers worth spotting include the ‘hot lips’ (labios ardientes), a plant that boasts vivid red petals that appear similar to the collagen-plumped smile of an aged celebrity. The morning glory, which spreads across the lowlands like thick lavender carpets, are joined by the carnal red passion flowers which emit a disgusting odour, successfully drawing flies in for pollination by emulating the foul smell of decay. Also keep an eye out for Lilly-white meadow oak, vermilion poró trees, purple jacarandas and the glowing yellow corteza amarilla.
Do not forget to venture from your comfortable Poas accommodation and indulge your senses amongst the animals and foliage of Costa Rica. A short trip to any part of the rainforest will yield many sightings of dazzling flowers and towering trees and as you travel Latin America, the spirit of the nation truly opens up to you like the fine petals of a blossoming orchid.