For many visitors and residents Costa Rica’s natural beauty is a big attraction. If you want to really get close to nature, bird watching and hiking are great ways to do it. Birders “flock” to Costa Rica to see some of the nearly 900 species that have been recorded here. Following is a brief description of some of Costa Rica’s best national parks and bird watching locations.
Santa Rosa National Park, Lomas Barbudal Biological Reserve,and Palo Verde National Park offer great birding and hiking. Santa Rosa is the location where William Walker was defeated and driven from Costa Rica and where the legend of national hero Juan Santamaria was born.
Carara National Park stretches from the Central Pacific coast to nearly the Central Valley and offers great bird watching and hiking. There are also indigenous ruins in the park. You can usually hire a guide at the park entrance and their fee is well worth it, since they will point out things you would never see on your own.
Monteverde has been the Costa Rican Mecca for nature enthusiasts for decades. Despite concerns about global warning drying up the cloud forest and the loss of some amphibious species, Monteverde still is a top attraction.
Manzanillo – Gandoca (southern Caribbean)
This forest reserve is in the South Caribbean and the Gandoca park is also a marine park. You can take a lovely hike along the coast south of Manzanillo, the trail runs along the beach and there is a lagoon along the way.
Corcovado National Park (Osa Peninsula)
This is the crown jewel of Costa Rica’s forests. Scientists come from around the world to study species in the earth’s “most biologically intense” region. Corcovado is large enough to host far-ranging species like the Jaguar and Harpy Eagle. Most visitors take guided tours and stay in nearby lodges around Matapalo, although one company offers a “tent lodge” right in the forest.
Los Santos – Chirripo
The Los Santos region is home to some of the largest tracts of virgin forest in Costa Rica. The “new” Monteverde if you will. Los Quetzales National Park has 5000 hectares and features abundant quetzals and pumas. The Chirripo mountain is the highest peak in Costa Rica at 3820 meters (12,,532 feet). This is probably the most challenging hike in Costa Rica, the trip up taking 6 to 12 hours. Although the fastest competitors in the annual race get to the top AND back down in 3.5 hours! Accommodations are available at the Los Crestones camp and most visitors take several days to enjoy exploring the area.
**Article from the archives of the American-European Real Estate Group**