Costa Rica is a small swath of land extending from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea, bridging Central and South America. Because of its proximity to the equator the climate here is tropical year round, however, elevation (mountains) can create slightly different microclimates. The country has a width distance of barely 200 miles, yet is still home to over 4% of the world’s animal species, making Costa Rica the most biodiverse country in the world. The first Costa Rican National Park was created in 1975, and since that time the country has been dedicated to conservation. The National System of Conservation Areas helps to preserve a total of 25% of the national territory, which is divided into 29 national parks, 19 wildlife refuges, 8 biological reserves. Costa Rica maintains the highest percentage of ecologically protected land of any country in the world.
One of those National Parks, Corcovado, located on the remote Osa Peninsula, has been called “the most biologically intense place on Earth in terms of biodiversity.” Corcovado National Park protects within its boundaries 41,788 hectares of shallow lagoons, marsh, mangrove swamps, rivers, wet forest and low-altitude cloud forest, as well as 46 kilometers of sandy beach. Within this extensive territory are some 6,000 insects, 500 trees, 367 birds, 140 mammals, 117 amphibians and reptiles, and 40 freshwater fish species. All this makes for nice homes for a great deal of wildlife that just so happens to be quite photogenic.
The Osa Peninsula is the only place in Costa Rica home to all four of the Costa Rican monkey species including the white-headed capuchin, the mantled howler, the endangered Jeffries spider monkey and the Central American squirrel monkey. Is there a more amusing critter to photograph than a curious monkey? Aside from monkeys the Osa is home to Coatis, two and three-toed sloths, dart frogs, hummingbirds, tapirs, crocodiles and jungle cats such as pumas and ocelots. Rare bird species such as Toucans, Scarlet Macaws and the Resplendent Quetzal fly across the jungle canopy.
The Macaw is not only the world’s largest parrot, it is also exceptionally colorful featuring reds, blues and yellows. The Quetzal is considered by many to be the most beautiful bird in the Americas.
Photographic opportunities are seemingly endless, from macro images of frogs, butterflies or leaf-cutter ants to wide-angle shots of ocean scenes or broad mountain vistas, to fast action shots of hummingbirds, flying macaws and monkeys jumping from tree to tree across the jungle canopy. The sloth and anteater give you more time as they are slower movers. If, of course, you are able to find them.
Visitors and photographers alike can enjoy the country’s majestic volcanoes, Pacific and Caribbean beaches, tropical dry, wet, and rain forests, as well as exhilarating jungle landscapes, all without traveling long distances. Costa Rica is an ever-changing landscape where visitors can never know quite what may be around the next corner.