Costa Rica felt like we were cheating! After the adventures of the Amazon, it was a huge surprise to see so many amazing animals without any of the anxiety I faced before! The 12 days we spent in Costa Rica were extremely different to the rest of the year. We decided to treat the last month of our travels as a holiday rather than travelling, and we splashed out on an incredible place to stay for our first three nights in Costa Rica - Peace Lodge.
Peace Lodge is set within La Paz Waterfall Gardens. As the name suggests, there is the odd waterfall or two!
The site is also home to an animal rescue centre. Zoos are illegal in Costa Rica, so all of the places we visited with enclosed animals were rescue centres. We got to see pumas and jaguars here, I was shocked to see how big pumas actually are... I’m pleased I didn’t know that when we were wild camping by a puma cave in Patagonia!
The best bit of wildlife we saw at La Paz Waterfall Gardens were the wild hummingbirds. I can’t explain how beautiful the colours are!
They gave us birdfeeders with sugar water in which were a hit with the hummingbirds...
This really did seem like a little bit of paradise. It was only after we left that we found out about the huge earthquake that occurred there in 2009 which killed 47 people. It was Costa Rica’s biggest quake in 150 years and 600 people had to be evacuated (300 of which were tourists visiting La Paz Waterfall Gardens and the surrounding area). Many homes, businesses and roads were destroyed.
The next part of our trip to Costa Rica was an eight day wildlife safari with Discover Corps. They focus on eco-friendly tourism and we did a beach clean as part of our trip. Costa Rica has a green leaf system which works similarly to the hotel star system, only they are awarded up to five green leaves for how sustainable they are. Costa Rica is a very environmentally aware country with 28% of its landmass being protected. Despite its small size (51,100km² - to put that into perspective, England alone is 130,395 km²), it has more biodiversity than Europe and the US combined! As a result, I won’t be posting photos of everything we saw, but here are a few highlights...
Sloths have very low-calorie diets which is why they move so slowly. Although we saw plenty of sloths in the wild, we also saw many in the rescue centres. This is because they are kept as pets and are also often electricuted when they reach for a wire instead of a branch. The rescue centres we visited asked tourists not to take selfies with the sloths, as studies have shown that there is a link between this type of social media and tourists wanting to have photos holding sloths (which is stressful for the sloth). It was great to learn more about responsible tourism.
We also saw howler monkeys, capuchin monkeys and spider monkeys. Although we had seen these in the Amazon, these were different breeds. (The photos below are slideshows - use the side arrows to scroll through).
We saw anteaters, caiman, lizards, iguanas, butterflies, raccoons, crocodiles, giant rodents, snakes, tortoises, bats and frogs...
We didn’t see any turtles as we were a little early in the season, but we did learn a lot about them and were shocked to find out how big they are!
We visited a pineapple plantation. Top tip for the next time you’re purchasing a pineapple... pick a green one and eat it as soon as possible! Unlike bananas, pineapples only ripen while they’re growing. So when they’re picked, they’re ready to eat. If you leave it too long they ferment. So choose the green ones and eat them straight away or pop them in the fridge.
The absolute highlight of our trip was the birdlife. The birds we saw included: grey-rumped swifts, rufous-tailed hummingbirds, sungrebes, anhingas, bare-throated tiger-herons, little blue herons, green herons, yellow-crowned night-herons, keel-billed (or ‘rainbow’) toucans, scarlet macaws, crested guans, green ibis, spectacled owls, broad-billed motmots, collared aracaris, yellow-throated toucans, great green macaws, great kiskadees, turkey vultures, black vultures, social flycatchers, king vultures, scarlet-rumpled tanagers, golden-hooded tanagers, swallow-tailed kites, chestnut-capped brushfinches, melodious blackbirds, slate-throated blackbirds, crimson-collared tanagers, blue-grey tanagers, palm tanagers, spangle-cheeked tanagers, silver-throated tanagers, buff-throated saltators, boat-billed flycatchers, blue-and-white swallows, ruddy-capped nightingales, golden-browned chlorophonias, common chlorospingus, rufous-collared sparrows, Baltimore orioles, green thorntails, green-crowned brilliants, ruby-throated hummingbirds, violet-headed hummingbirds, yellow-bellied flycatchers, purple-throated fruitcrows, white-collared manakins, montezuma oropendolas, slaty-tailed trogons, ringed kingfishers, red-lores parrots, white-crowned parrots and one mystery bird that we couldn’t identify! Here’s a small selection...
Costa Rica was the perfect place to finish off our year of travelling around the world. We have been truly spoilt! I took a lot of video footage of the wildlife, but there’s the small issue of moving back into our house right now. Once we’re settled I’ll be posting our Costa Rica video here. Thanks for reading!