Costa Rica Wildlife Paradise Costa Rica: Beauty & Abundance

by Phoebe Edge , Costa Rica Research Field Assistant

Pura vida! For anyone who has visited Costa Rica they will explain to you that this phrase defines the basic essence of life here. For Ticos (slang for Costa Ricans), it is a simple expression of happiness, optimism, and living life to the fullest. It is literally impossible to visit Costa Rica without hearing this phrase continuously. And honestly, it doesn’t take long to get into the Pura Vida spirit once you are here. 

I have lived in South Pacific Costa Rica for over a decade now and, over and over again, people tell me that the unforced kindness of the Costa Rican people made their visit here that much more special. Visitors quickly discover that Ticos take immense pride in their country and share it through their hospitality. Costa Rica is synonymous with peace and democracy. It became the first country in the modern world to abolish its military army in 1948. Family is very important to Ticos as well.

monkeys in costa rica

All of this keeps the country strong and on an even keel. I can safely say that the love the Ticos have for their country and its unique and exquisite natural beauty is completely infectious, and you feel inspired to help preserve it as they do. It’s in everything they say and do. 
Costa Rica covers a mere 0.03% of the planet’s surface, yet it has become world renowned for being a haven for biodiversity. Not only does the extensive biodiversity provide an abundance of natural beauty, it creates a home for thousands of plant species and animals making it one of the last strongholds. The nation is endowed with over 6% of all life forms on Earth, a high majority of which are endemic meaning they are not found anywhere else. Its tropical climate extends across extreme variations in altitude and covers countless ecosystems. Habitats range from verdant rainforest, lush mangroves, lava fields, serene cloud forests, as well as Atlantic and Pacific Ocean territory. At least 850 bird species can be found, 237 mammal species, 1,260 tree species, 1,200 orchid species, and 361 reptile and amphibian species. These are only the ones we currently know of. Costa Rica harbours thousands of known life forms and thousands more are still yet to be discovered.

turtles in costa rica

Protecting these natural wonders remains high on the country’s agenda, and thankfully tourism hasn’t wavered in its commitment to conservation. Tourists flock to Costa Rica in the hope of seeing some of the hundreds of species here. Yet it is always managed in a sustainable way. It’s incredible to observe how the forces of nature and local culture interplay and combine so effectively here.
Costa Rica began moving towards ecotourism with the establishment of its first protected area, the Cabo Blanco National Reserve, in 1963. This was then followed by the creation of the first official national parks in 1971. Today the Costa Rican government protects over 1,300,000 hectares. Along with various private reserves operated by non-profit organisations. This means that over 30% of national territory is allocated for conservation – one of the highest ratios in the world. It is for this reason that Costa Rica is often cited as a model for conservation in harmony with community development and economic growth.

reptiles in costa rica

Wet or dry season, dawn or dusk, no day is ever dull here. The more time you spend in Costa Rica you begin to realise how much the smallest details contribute to the most fulfilling experiences. Hearing the sound of bright red scarlet macaws fly overhead through the postcard perfect blue sky never ceases to amaze. Nor nature’s wake-up call of howler monkeys at dawn, while the jungle humidity embraces you and makes you feel like you have taken a step back in time. The stillness of the rainforest punctuated by the various calls of frogs, the rasping of cicadas and the songs of toucans. Crashing waves on deserted beaches whilst sea turtles emerge to lay their eggs. An iridescent blue morpho butterfly fluttering by as whales breach in the background. These may all sound like simple things, they are. Yet the simplicity of these moments are what make them so beautiful. Nature’s perfectly orchestrated moments make the modern world and all its stress fade to insignificance.

sloths in costa rica

I remember one of my first times out on the Golfo Dulce, where I am now based researching and conserving cetaceans and sea turtles. A small body of water just 15 by 50km in size yet it holds over 20% of all the marine life of Pacific Costa Rica. Within 30 minutes on the water, I managed to see a mother and calf humpback whale. The mama came right by the boat, partially lifted her head out of the water and looked me straight in the eye. I felt my whole body come alive with her energy and couldn’t move for several minutes. And there it was, a life changing moment that will stay with me forever. Connecting with nature is such a comfort and while it feels almost out of body at first, it becomes the norm on a day-to-day basis here. One lasting memory after another.
Costa Rica is overflowing with the most incredible national parks, gorgeous scenery, adventures for everyone, and unique wildlife. There is abundance all around. On top of this, the locals are so welcoming that it makes it extremely hard to leave. So, when you do come to Costa Rica, take it all in and treasure every moment while you say to yourself and everyone you meet along the way like you really, really mean it, “Pura vida!”

whale watching in costa rica

Find out more about our trips to Costa Rica here

Our Brand New David Attenborough Explorer Itinerary 2020

An incredible wildlife adventure taking in five continents over four months.

We have launched a brand new wildlife adventure for 2020, inspired by the legendary natural historian Sir David Attenborough.

If you’re a fan of the iconic documentary makers’ work you’ll definitely want to find out more about our incredible new itinerary, focusing on the fascinating destinations and wildlife featured across the popular documentaries.

This brand new itinerary for 2020 combines a selection of our greatest wildlife adventures across five different continents to take in some of the most fascinating scenery and species which have been the star of the show in Attenborough’s recent works.

Starting in Antarctica in February and ending in the Arctic in June, passing through South America, Africa, and Asia along the way, this intrepid itinerary offers the chance to see everything from pumas to polar bears, painted wolves and penguins.

Read the full itinerary below.

Antarctica – February 2020 (14 Nights)


Our intrepid wildlife itinerary begins in Antarctica with an epic 14-night polar adventure in the Falklands. Our Falklands Birds and Wildlife tour takes in the remote wilderness of the Falkland Islands, offering the opportunity to see the most spectacular wildlife this region has to offer, including albatross, 5 different species of penguin, seals, dolphins, orcas and a myriad of birdlife – many of which have played a star part in Attenborough’s documentaries.

South America

Costa Rica – March 2020 (11 nights)


The tour continues to Costa Rica with our incredible 11-night scuba diving experience in the Coco Islands. This underwater adventure offers the chance to explore one of the most impressive diving destinations in the world, home to over 300 different species of fish. Other fascinating creatures to witness here include turtles, dolphins and sailfish – all which have featured in Attenborough’s documentaries.

Ecuador – March 2020 (9 Nights)

hinese Hat and Rabida Island

The next leg of the tour is our 9-night Galapagos adventure, which takes in the west, central and east islands. The wildlife journey includes the opportunity to see the largest colony of marine iguanas on Fernandina Islands, a visit to a nesting site for the flightless cormorant on Isabela Island and pelican spotting on Rabida Island.

Argentina – March/April 2020 (11 Nights)


Next up is Argentina, for our brand new Patagonia, Pumas and Glaciers tour. This 11-day tour offers the chance to see pumas in the wild in the very location where Attenborough filmed his unforgettable Seven Worlds One Planet episode. This thrilling tour also includes a visit to  Los Glaciares National Park and a hike along the Southern Glacier.

Brazil – April 2020 (11 Nights)



Zimbabwe – April 2020 (6 Nights)

Concluding our time in South America, we head to Brazil for our Amazon, Pantanal and Savannah tour. This trip offers a unique opportunity to see the maned wolf in the wild, as well as the jaguars and anteaters which have featured in Attenborough’s documentaries. This tour includes accommodation in eco-lodges set among the incredible nature, as you visit each of these three fascinating areas of varied terrain.


Our first Africa leg of this itinerary is in Zimbabwe, where you can visit the Mana Pools National Park which was featured in Attenborough’s Dynasties documentary. This 7-day Super Sensory Safari is a first of its kind and provides a truly immersive safari experience, with activities specifically designed to engage all of the senses, including a walking safari led by expert professional guides.

Botswana – April/May 2020 (12 Nights)


The second African safari stop is in Botswana where you can see the beauty of the African elephants in the wild at Chobe Riverfront, home to the largest density of African elephants. This Wild Botswana tour also visits Okavango Delta, known as one of the best destinations in all of Africa for wildlife lovers.


India – May/June 2020 (12 Nights)

andhavgarh National Park

In Asia, take in our Wildlife Special focusing on leopards, tigers and rhinos. This 12-night tour includes tiger viewing in two of India’s best tiger reserves and a safari in Kaziranga Park – home to the world’s largest population of one-horned rhinoceros.

Arctic – June 2020 (10 Nights)

xploring Spitsbergen

This magnificent wildlife itinerary ends in the Arctic with our Introduction to Spitsbergen tour. This 10-night polar expedition will encounter polar bears, arctic foxes, whales and walruses in the wild as you explore the very best of what Spitsbergen has to offer.

This incredible 4-month itinerary taking in five different continents costs from £40,411pp. This doesn’t include transfers between countries. All internal transport within each leg of the trip, accommodation, and excursions are included as stated in each individual tour itinerary.

Contact us now to book

Natalie In Patagonia Top Ten Bucket List Trips For 2018

Natalie's Top Ten Bucket List Trips For 2018
Wildfoot travel expert Natalie Natalie Greenhalgh has always been passionate about travelling. Seeking out new places and new travel experiences is something she has done all her life. Always lining up the next life-goal or travel-target. So who better to ask to put together her top ten bucket-list adventures for 2018? Here’s Natalie’s top ten. How many of these adventures would you add to your bucket list?

We all do it, every year we make a list of new year’s resolutions that often tend to be about bettering one’s self. And we can’t think of a better way of doing this than to travel. So book your time off, pack your bags and set off for a new destination! It’s a great big world out there, so here are some highlights that we at Wildfoot Travel would highly recommend.

Beautiful Patagonia

Hike Hidden Pathways in Patagonia

Celebrating 200 years of independence this year, Chile is unlike any other place on earth. Isolated from the rest of the world with the vast Pacific Ocean to the west, the Atacama Desert to the North, the soaring Andes to the East and the wilds of Patagonia to the South, these extreme environments make for a remarkable country. In my opinion, Patagonia is the most beautiful spot on the planet…an otherworldly dreamland of majestic mountains, deep blue glaciers and fairy-tale woodlands, a trek in this remote wilderness will stay with you for life.

When? Chile’s summer months of December to March are warmest and best for trekking. Visit in October and November for Wildflowers.

Diving in the Galapagos

Go Goggle-eyed in the Galapagos

As a wildlife destination, the Galapagos offers a once in a lifetime experience, where adventurous travellers can get extremely close to exotic animals and aquatic life. These isolated islands are home to the marine and land-based animals that have enthralled biologists and nature lovers since Darwin’s day, and the fearless and friendly animals that roam this untouched natural world are in abundance.
Easily one of the best snorkelling spots in the World, there is over 15,000 square miles of protected, marine reserve waters. Unlike Scuba Diving, no special training is required for snorkelling, so if you can swim and breathe through a snorkel, you’re set! I will never forget watching green turtles paddle in front of me as two sea lions were demanding my attention as they circled me then swam up and looked me in the eye. Marine iguanas are warning in the sun, Galápagos penguins dive in, and hammerhead and white-tipped sharks lurk in the depths.

When? Unlike most wildlife destinations, there’s no wrong time to visit & go snorkelling in the Galapagos Islands. There are two distinct seasons in the Galapagos. The dry and cooler season runs from June to November while the wet and warmer season lasts from December through the end of May.

Penguins on South Georgia Island

Sit among King Penguins in South Georgia

When you land on South Georgia, a spectacularly beautiful and remote sub-Antarctic island, you will be amazed at the sight of 300,000 king penguins crowding the beach. These beautiful birds are recognisable by their orange throats and jet black heads. As they stand shoulder to shoulder on this tiny island, you certainly feel like a guest in their home! But they are very welcoming hosts and are often happy to come a little closer and say hello. And it’s not all about penguins, if you want to spend time with the greatest density of wildlife on the planet, you can expect to see seals, petrels, albatrosses, prions and much more.

When? The short expedition season runs from November-March when the sea ice breaks up to allow passage. November offers the chance of also seeing elephant seals on South Georgia, whilst December and January have warmer temperatures and welcome penguin chicks at this time of year.


walking safari in Zambia

Walk amongst the wild things in Zambia

The concept of walking safaris was born here, in South Luangwa National Park. One of the best wildlife sanctuaries in the world, and well-known for its World class guides, it is home to some of the highest concentrations of animals in Africa. Don’t be daunted by the prospect of walking, exploring the area on foot makes you really appreciate the bush as you become a part of the landscape. You may stumble upon a baby elephant learning to use its trunk, watch a wallowing hippo or two or stay as still as humanly possible as a Lion watches you through the grass. But you also take the time to learn about the plants, seeds and insects and how they all work so brilliantly together in this fascinating system. So if you’re after a safari that doesn’t just tick off the big 5, walk amongst the animals that call this place home and see how it all fits together, you will not be disappointed.

When? Some camps in Zambia are only open in the dry-season between June and October. As the heat increases towards the end of August, there is a greater concentration of game.

northern lights in scandanaviaBe in awe of the Aurora Borealis whilst Whale watching

Walking out of a bar in Reykjavik, I looked up and caught a glimpse of the northern lights. Despite the light pollution, I could faintly see the beautiful light show that was happening right above me. I stood in awe for a few seconds before the magical lights disappeared, and I made a promise to myself to make a trip one day specifically to see this sight “properly”. There are many places to see this natural phenomenon, but why not combine this with another wonderous experience…whale watching. Take a winter trip aboard a traditional two masted schooner and sail in arctic waters, looking for orcas and humpback whales, which follow the herring shoals at this time of year. Whales by day, northern lights by night…what could be better?

When? Darkness is the key, and nowhere is darker than Scandinavia in winter! Best seen in the Northern Hemisphere between October – March, the closer to the Arctic circle the better.

Peek at Jaguar’s in the Pantanal

Think of a wildlife destination in Brazil and most people would suggest the Amazon. But the Pantanal is Brazil’s less-famous great wilderness…and the best place in the world to spot the elusive Jaguar. Because the Amazon is so dense, often people can be disappointed with what little wildlife they see, but the Pantanal is like the jungle without the trees – wildlife can be easily spotted.  This vast wetland is also home to giant otters, huge caiman, capybara, anteaters, almost 700 hundred bird species and much more. Exploring this wilderness by boat or on foot, you will have the opportunity of seeing very rare and iconic wildlife up-close.

When?  Seasonally flooded in the wet season between December – May, the Pantanal is best visited in winter with September and October usually seen as the best months to visit for Jaguar spotting.

Feel free in the faraway Falklands

With some of the World’s wildest and remote landscapes, the Falkland Islands are a wonderous place and incredibly bio-diverse. A little bit of Britain at the end of the world, the real citizens here are the animals. With 5 penguin species (Kings, Rockhopper, Magellanic, Macaroni and Gentoo), dolphins, whales, sea lions, leopard seals, elephant seals and not to mention over 200 species of birds…if you are after a wildlife trip with a difference, the Falkland’s will not disappoint. Stanley, the capital of East Falkland Island is often at the start of your adventure, with Volunteer point not to be missed…home to the largest colony of King Penguins on all of the islands. Then take a short plane hop to Sea Lion Island, Darwin, Pebble Island, Carcass and West Point Island, each island offering a unique and unforgettable experience.

When? OctoberMarch is generally considered the best time to visit, with the start of the warmer weather bringing new life and later on in the season, the better time for whale watching.

The Icebergs in Greenland's Disko Bay

 Dance amongst the Icebergs in Disko Bay, Greenland

Ok, so you might not dance but this is Disko Bay, a UNESCO world heritage site thanks to its outstanding natural beauty. Greenland is the worlds largest island, with the worlds largest national park, and on the West Coast you will find Illullisat, a harbour town on Disko Bay whose name translates literally to “icebergs”, and you will see why. Disko bay is packed full of beautiful icebergs of all shapes and sizes rising majestically from the sea. And this is just one tiny highlight of this huge island that has so much to offer.

When? Most people visit in summer (May – September) when temperatures can reach a balmy 10 degrees Celsius! Enjoy the midnight sun at this time too, with most areas lit up around the clock from June – July.

See the sunrise over Sossusvlei Dunes, Namibia

The climb up this 85m sand dune (in sand no less) will leave you short as breath as you reach the top. Short of breath for the climb you have just experienced but also short of breath when you see the beauty of the sunrise over Sossusvlei. As I watched the sun come up and change the colours of the landscape, the orange of the sunrise combined with the rust-red of the Dunes was so intense and I remember feeling lost in that moment, whilst nature showed just how beautiful she can be. Just one highlight of my trip to Namibia, this is one of my favourite countries as it has everything to offer, fantastic wildlife and national parks, preserved ancient cultures, dramatic landscapes and lovely little seaside towns.

When? A year-round destination, Namibia has over 300 days of sunshine per year! Wildlife can be easier to view in the drier months between May to November.
sloth hanging from a tree in the rain forest of costa rica

Go coco for Costa Rica

As a country, Costa Rica has so much to offer, especially for wildlife enthusiasts! Costa Rica covers 0.03 percent of the earth’s surface, but it contains nearly 6 percent of the world’s biodiversity.  Around 25% of the country’s land area is in protected national parks and protected areas, the largest percentage of protected areas in the world. Sloths, Whales, Turtles, Monkeys, Tapirs and hundreds of bird species…it is packed full of wildlife! If you’re after a bit of adrenalin, try white-water rafting, ziplining and canyoning…just a few of the activities on offer. And with coastlines on both the Pacific and Caribbean, there are many beach spots to relax after a busy trip around this wonderful country.

When? The driest and sunniest time of year to go is between January to April with January and February being the busiest time to go. Temperatures and rainfall can very though with Rainforests, Cloud Forests, mountains and 2 coastlines all battling it out!

Find out more about any of our trips here

Natalie Top Ten Bucket List Trips For 2018












Costa Rica

Natalie. Wildfoot travel's Antarctica Cruise Expert AdvisorWildfoot Travel’s Natalie Greenhalgh reflects on her time in Costa Rica and the wildlife she encountered on her adventure.

I’ll never forget the first time I heard Howler Monkeys … the loudest of all the primates in the world. I was in Tortuguero National Park in Costa Rica on a small canoe with just my husband and our guide.

We were floating down one of the canals very early in the morning around dawn. The morning mist was still rising and I remember thinking how peaceful and beautiful the surroundings were when suddenly, I heard an almighty roar amongst the rainforest that lined the riverbank. It was terrifying. Like something out of a horror film! I froze and held my breath as our guide told us about the animal behind the noise. A day later whilst enjoying a trek in the area, I was surprised to see how relatively small these monkeys were in relation to the noise they make!

Travelling along the canals early in the morning offers a superb way to see the natural wildlife.

Tortuguero is most famous for…you guessed it…turtles. Green Sea Turtles, leatherback and Hawksbill turtles nest on the beaches here. Taking a guided trip to the beaches at night, you will be rewarded with the sight of turtles struggling up the beach as they dig their nest and lay their eggs. Or if you’re really lucky, you might spot newly hatched turtles racing to the sea.

Tortuguero turtle
Tortuguero, world renowned as a sanctuary for turtles

This is just one of the many National Parks on offer in Costa Rica. As a country, it has so much to offer, especially for wildlife enthusiasts. Costa Rica 0.03 percent of the earth’s surface bit it contains nearly 6 percent of the world’s biodiversity.  Around 25% of the country’s land area is in protected national parks and protected areas, the largest percentage of protected areas in the world.

Corcovado National Park is well known for its biodiversity (including big cats and tapirs) and is the only national park in Costa Rica where you can see all 4 Costa Rican species of Monkey. Manuel Antonio National Park is home to hundreds of bird species, three toed sloths and not to mention a vast diversity of tropical plants and wildlife.

Costa Rican Toucan
Costa Rica is world famous for its incredible birdlife

Monteverde Cloud Forest is also not to be missed. With over 26,000 acres of Cloud Forest, the reserve consists of 6 ecological zones with 90% of those being primary forest. It also has an extremely high biodiversity with 100 species of mammals, 400 bird species, 120 reptilian and amphibian species and 2,500 plant species. If you have ever wanted to try zip lining, then this is the spot to do it…you could almost class a zip lining tour as a safari! I saw howler monkeys, white faced monkeys and Toucans as I zipped through the rainforest. I ended my ziplining tour as “superman”!  Zip lining horizontally at a height of 180 meters, I felt like a bird whilst soaring over the mountains and pasture. It’s certainly an experience I will never forget.

The varied scenery on offer in this country is second to none. Stepping off the bus in La Fortuna, the gateway to Arenal National Park, I was amazed to see this huge volcano just sitting at the end of town…which is still active! Home to beautiful waterfalls, huge hanging bridges in the Rainforest and thermal hot springs, a trip to Costa Rica wouldn’t be complete without visiting this fascinating area.

Arenal National Park, a spectacular area of natural beauty
Arenal National Park, an area of spectacular natural beauty

With coastlines on both the Pacific and Caribbean, there are many beach spots to relax after a busy trip around this wonderful country. One of my favourites being Puerto Viejo de Talamanca on the Caribbean coast in the south. It has such a great laid back Caribbean vibe and the town itself is very lively with great bars and restaurants. The beautiful palm tree lined beaches with crystal clear blue waters are a great spot to relax at the end of a busy and exciting tour of Costa Rica.

Beautiful beaches of Costa Rica
Beautiful palm tree lined beaches with crystal clear blue waters in Costa Rica

Whether it’s a private guided tour, self-drive tour or small group tour, we have a huge variety of trips on offer along with first-hand experience and a real passion for this destination.

Check out this gallery of photos from our Costa Rica wildlife & adventure holidays.

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The amazing wildlife of Costa Rica The Amazing Wildlife Of Costa Rica – Eddie’s Photo Gallery

Wildfoot travellers Eddie and John took one of our trips to Costa Rica recently.
Photographer Eddie Laker took all these amazing photos on their trip and sent them in so we could share them. They clearly illustrate what an amazing place Costa Rica is – and what a great photographer Eddie Laker is.

Thanks again Eddie for the fantastic photos.

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If you’d like to see the wildlife of Costa Rica yourself, check out our trips to Cost Rica here.





Go wild in Costa Rica with Wildfoot Travel

A visit to the stunning Costa Rica with Wildfoot Travel is an absolute must for wildlife lovers – or indeed, anyone who likes to live life on the wild side.

An introduction to Costa Rica

Costa Rica is sandwiched between Nicaragua and Panama, with the Pacific Ocean to the West and the Caribbean Sea to the East. It takes a 13 hour flight to reach, as no direct services are available from the UK as of yet.

Feel free to take your trip with us at any time of the year. Costa Rica’s two coastlines mean that you’ll most likely experience a variety of weather on your trip, no matter what time of year you visit.

One thing to keep in mind is that levels of humidity in Costa Rica are constantly high, so we would suggest that you make use of the laundry services available in your accommodation for drying your clothes!

Costa Rica is wild, wild, wild…

In terms of the trips we offer, the recurring theme is wildlife. Each of our packages are over a week in length, which enables you to truly make the most of your time in Costa Rica. From tropical rainforests to viewing volcanoes, there’s bound to be something for anyone to do or see.

One thing that may affect when you choose to visit is the spectacular wildlife events. Spring is ideal for whale watching in Corcovado, while summer time is best for watching turtles of all kinds come ashore on the beach. The rainforests flourish all year long and are ideal for bird watching.

Wildfoot Travel is here to help

The main language in Costa Rica is Spanish. Although we do advise learning a few key phrases, our English-speaking guides will be there to help you for the majority of your visit.

A large variety of accommodation is available in Costa Rica. As it’s one of the most infamous wildlife hotspots in the world, the majority of the accommodation is eco friendly. From family-run lodges on the coast to international chains, the choice really is up to you.

As one of the leading wildlife travel specialists, Wildfoot Travel is here to guide you at every step of your journey to Costa Rica – so don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more about any of our recently-introduced packages to this ever-fascinating part of Central America.


Take a good look at our range of Costa Rica trips here:

Check out this lovely photo gallery featuring Costa Rica’s amazing  wildlife.

more information whales and sloths in Costa Rica here