This tiny peaceful tropical country has dedicated about 15% of its land to national parks containing a vast variety of wildlife. Birds are especially prevalent (850 species)- and over 12, 000 species of flowering plants. In addition the country offers tourists volcanoes, hot springs, beaches and adrenalin activities.
Generally a good safari in Costa Rica will take place from December-April.
Avoid May-November (rains), tho’ May and November may not be too wet and will be much less crowded.
There are around 70 nature parks, here are a few of the more interesting ones, north to south:
• Santa Rosa NP, old dry tropical forest on NW Pacific coast near Inter-American Highway, contains the largest protected tropical dry forest in the Americas, home to jaguars, tapirs, anteaters, monkeys, bats, iguanas, and 260 species of bird. Quite far from San José.
• Rincon de la Vieja NP, NW, is easy to access from Liberia and loaded with wildlife, especially monkeys, snakes and coatis.
• Palo Verde NP, NW, mostly for 280 species of water birds (best September-March).
• Tortuguero National Park on the north Caribbean coast is the spot for visiting/watching green sea turtles, as well as other wildlife.
• Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve (nearish to San José), the most commercial park, this upstart is home to 100 species of mammal, 400 species of birds and 420 species of orchids.Monteverde is nearer to San José (3hrs) than most other parks and contains the biggest canopy walk – Skytrek (3hrs, 2km/1. 25m) including a 400m slide, 80m suspension bridge, 24 kms of trails, and 3 huts.
• Cahuita and Manuel Antonio NPs (MA is nearish to San José), on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts respectively with good beaches, snorkel with varied fish and walk thru forests of monkeys, iguana, coatis, birds etc.
• Braulio Carrillo NP near San José on Northern Plains and loaded with wildlife/plants but oddly difficult to reach but worth the effort.
• La Selva Biological Station, also Northern Plains with plenty of nature red in tooth and claw. Easy going.
• Corcovado NP is Costa Rica’s most diverse park, 200 sq. miles of varied habitats from thick rain forest to seashore jungle hosting 140 species of mammal from jaguars to tapir, 116 species of reptiles and 285 species of bird! Corcovado is in the distant SW and difficult to reach, humid, tough hiking, but a superb wildlife experience.