Costa Rica is a biodiversity hotspot and that translates to exotic tropical birds, bugs, and other creatures being found in many parts of the country. As long as you have some green space, you will find a variety of butterflies, beautiful birds like Crimson-fronted Parakeet, Blue-gray Tanager, Great Kiskadee, and others but the best places for seeing an abundance of interesting tropical wildlife is in large, protected areas of tropical forest.
This is where most of the animals live but they aren’t exactly easy to see. Most do their best to avoid being eaten by a myriad of predators and thus stay hidden most of the time. This means that you can take a hike through beautiful primary rainforest and see very little. An experienced guide will help you see quite a few monkeys, maybe a sloth or two, and lots of birds but it’s easier to get good looks at toucans, parrots, and other exotic wildlife in the following places:
- Ecolodge gardens: A surprising number of species will frequent the garden of a hotel as long as there is enough vegetation, tall trees, and proximity to good forest. Many forest species come to such gardens including sloths and other mammals, aracaris, toucans, tanagers, various woodpeckers, and many other bird species. It becomes easier to see them in the garden than inside the forest because the vegetation is more open.
- Hummingbird gardens: Visit any of the hummingbird gardens in Costa Rica and you have a very good chance of seeing several glittering, stunning hummingbird species as they come to feeders and flowering bushes. Fantastic photo opportunities too! The Costa Rica Nature Pavilionin particular stands out in this regard.
- Certain national parks and reserves: While colorful birds occur in every protected area, a few of the best for seeing a wide variety of exotic species like trogons, parrots, antbirds, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, and others are Tortuguero National Park, Carara National Park, Manuel Antonio National Park, the Monteverde area, and Corcovado. These sites are especially productive for seeing many exotic birds, snakes, monkeys, and more because they offer good habitat and experienced guides who know how to find and identify wildlife.