Costa Rica

Peccaries—wild swine—are notoriously near-sighted. A backpacker in Corcovado National Park, surrounded by a herd of 150 of them clacking sharp teeth, wisely climbed a tree to give them time to decide he wasn’t dangerous.

Almost a third of Costa Rica is in national parks, wildlife refuges, and biological and forest reserves, including private set-asides. As a result, with its extraordinary natural biodiversity and habitat variety, it supports five percent of all the world’s known plant and animal species.

Wildlife threatened with extinction elsewhere thrive here in a dozen distinct tropical life zones. They include dazzling macaws and spotted ocelots in the rain forest and six species of great sea turtles nesting on its beaches, some in huge “arribadas” where thousands may gather simultaneously to scour out egg-laying burrows.

More than 200 mammals include six wild felines—small forest-dwelling tiger cats, powerful pumas, dark jaguarundis, and little leopardspotted margays. Among notable tropical species are four kinds of monkeys, which includeeerie-sounding howlers. Herds of collared peccaries root about the forest floor, and two- and three-toed sloths hang motionless from tree limbs or feed on leafy vegetation so slowly they seem all but immobile. From the North American side of this continental land-bridge have come deer, otters, coyotes, foxes.

Some rain forests stand here today as they did a million years ago.

Visitor facilities in some are in various stages of development, including roads, trails, housing, and guided information. Check before planning a trip.

More about the Reserves in costa rica

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