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Travelling through Costa Rica and watching animals

Travelling and seeing exotic animals at the same time- this is absolutely normal in Costa Rica.

“I want to see exotic animals in nature” - this is a big wish of most visitors who travel to a tropical country. Today I show you how easily you can make this wish come true in Costa Rica.

Who can watch animals?

People often ask me if they can also see animals as normal tourists in Costa Rica, or if this is just possible with a guide with the right equipment. I can answer this question, if you can see animals without a guide, with yes. When you keep your eyes open, you can see animals as a normal tourist, and sometimes with the help of a local guide (voluntarily or because it is obligatory for the park) and also when you respect them (pssssst...!!!)



Of course, wildlife is not a zoo. And anyway, you will be surprised by all the animals that cross your way walking or flying in Costa Rica, and how easy it is to take beautiful photos as memories. Even if you just take photos with a small camera (but with a good zoom) or with your phone. But: Selfies with animals are not wanted. This could disturb the sensitive wild animals. Thanks for keeping to this rule!

Now, I want to share my animal pictures and the places where I took them. I will be just talking about the places I have visited this year. Of course, Costa Rica offers many more destinations that are perfect to watch animals.

Where should I go to watch animals?

As soon as you leave the city jungle of San José, you are no longer safe for animal encounters. In the beginning, you might just see colourful butterflies. Then the fast hummingbirds, later the cute squirrels with their fluffy tail and then a nose bear crosses your way. And... it gets even better:

North Pacific

Please don’t get scared if you are woken up by loud noises. Those are the funny howler monkeys that will entertain you for a bit when you watch them. They are seen easily and often in Nosara. When they are not howling, they are sleeping - like in the picture. Also, the raccoon or coati with their cute ears can be seen quite often. But caution: petting or feeding them is strictly prohibited. They are wild animals and we won’t get closer to them and want to maintain their natural behaviour.

3 pacifico norte monos congo



4 pacifico norte pizote


You need a little bit more luck and have to be at the right time in the right place if you want to see the sea turtles. That means to be there when thousands of turtles arrive at the beach in Ostional, for example, to lay their eggs. This happens usually between July and November, normally once per month, but the exact day can never be predicted. This is nature. If the timing is right, you can visit this extraordinary and emotional nature event together with an authorized guide. Actually, you can also see some turtles between December and June that come to Ostional. Ask someone when you are in this area. It is definitively worth it.

6 pacifico norte tortuga

Olive Ridley Sea Turtle

In the mountains at day and night

At 1´400 meters above sea level, the climate and vegetation changes but the sensation of seeing animals stays the same. For example many birds. Unfortunately, I only know the names of the big ones like the Motmot at the terrace of the hotel or the god bird Quetzal, which we saw at a hike at the Monteverde Reserve on the way. A great meeting!

8 motmot en las montanas

Motmot in Rincón de la Vieja

Who wants to go to the forest by night needs a local guide. As a specialist, he takes care that you don’t get lost in the darkness and shows the visitors many of the nocturnal animals, like this Tarantula for example.

10 monteverde night tour 1


On the road

In which country can you travel on the main traffic artery, the Panamericana, and see exotic animals? In Costa Rica, of course... between Liberia and Puntarenas is a place called Limonal and is quite popular, as for taking a break or to watch the red ara parrots, that are flying around at his place. A little bit more south, between Orotina and Jacó, is a bridge, from which you can see a whole crocodile colony. But please, watch them just from the bridge!!!

11 rio tarcoles

Rio Tarcoles


The region of Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí has many animals.. different toucans, which you can hear from everywhere and thanks to their big, colourful beak they are easy to see. Back at the hotel, a bluejeans frog jumped over my way and when it got darker, they showed me many more frogs. I like the one with red eyes!

Absolutely adorable are the white bats that live in this region. I am very grateful for the guide who showed them to me. I would not have seen them without him. 

12 sarapiqui murcielagos blancos

White Bats         

13 sarapiqui rana    

Red-Eyed Tree Frog

14 sarapiqui rana 2

Blue Jeans Frog

Caribbean Coast

My trip also took me to the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica and I saw a Lapa Verde (green ara parrot) twice in one day. First when we were driving through remote mountain regions and later close to the hotel at the coast. I could hardly believe my luck.

A short time after, we saw a sloth in the trees when we were on the way to the beach. These are moments when I am sure that I am in paradise on Earth.

15 Caribe lapa verde

Green Ara Parrot

16 caribe perezoso


South Pacific

Also in and on the water, paradise has a lot to offer. At the South Pacific coast, you are comfortably sitting in a boat and drive through the Marino Ballena National Park at Uvita. Actually, I wanted to see whales, but my visit was in the wrong season. But our boat wasn’t alone for a long time. Dolphins came to us and played and swam with the boat, like a little race. What a great spectacle.

Dolphins at Marino Ballena National Park

Corcovado National Park

If you want to see animals at the Corcovado National Park, you have to try a little harder than I explained before.

17 .2 corcovado lapa roja

Red Ara Parrot

Of course, you can see animals like the red Ara Macaw parrot while lying in the hammock of the terrace of the lodge, outside of the park. But I wanted to see more and hiked from Carate to La Leona inside the Corcovado National Park.

This is just possible when you go with a guide. Depending on your physical condition, you can hike for 1-3 days. I did a day tour that took us along the beach and then through the forest close to the coast. It was not the kilometres but the heat that made me tired. But it is worth it.

18 birds watching 3

Guide in Corcovado

Thanks to our guide, we saw many animals, of some of them I could not take a photo because they were so fast, but we were able to watch others through the binoculars of the guide and it was a unique experience. Costa Rica at its best!

19 corcovado oso hormiguero

Anteater in Corcovado

20 corcovado mono titi

Tití Monkey

21 corcovado cara blanca

White-faced Capuchin Monkey

Nature has blessed Costa Rica with great biodiversity that you can explore enjoy during your trip with a little bit of patience and luck. Did you ever experience something like this? Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have questions or something nice to share about the animals in Costa Rica. 

Pura Vida from Nosara.

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  • Janaina & Dieter, Brazil

    The trip was wonderful! Your help was invaluable and without your choices it would not have been so good! I am very very satisfied and very happy with the choices you made!

    Thank you very much for everything!

    Janaina & Dieter, Brazil
  • Kathrin, Ines, Matthias & Ingo, Germany

    Hello dear Aline, many thanks to you for the great compilation and organization of the trip. We were able to spend eventful, interesting and wonderful days in Costa Rica and will keep them in good memory. A thank you also goes to the ARA Tours team, which was available 24/7 for problems and questions, which were solved and answered quickly and reliably. The punctuality of the transfers offered should also be emphasized. In summary, it was a wonderful holiday.

    Kind regards

    Kathrin, Ines, Matthias & Ingo, Germany
  • Carina & Thomas, Germany

    Hello dear Aline,
    Now we have arrived back at San Jose Airport after a great trip. Everything worked out great and the tour was just perfectly planned and organized. Thank you very much. We take a lot of positive memories with us.
    Best regards.

    Carina & Thomas, Germany
  • Yvonne, Switzerland

    The Costa Rica trip together with my family is already behind us - it was wonderful!!! Everything went smoothly from A to Z, we had a wonderful time, no incidents and wonderful experiences.
    We all enjoyed it very much; the nature is enormous, but also the warm-hearted people, the cleanliness, the food - we are very enthusiastic!
    At this point I would like to thank you very much for your support in the preparation, for all the bookings, clarifications and enquiries!!!
    We visited the waterfall in La Fortuna and had a great view of the Arenal. In Monteverde we did a Hanging Bridges and Zipline tour and in Nosara a surf course. In Finca Rosa Bianca we did the coffee tour, it was all great, fun and interesting 😊. All in all, we saw lots of animals, always ate well, enjoyed the beaches....even in rainy weather 😊. Often we were even glad that it was overcast, otherwise it would have been almost toouuu hot for us.
    So THANK YOU again so much for everything!!!!

    Yvonne, Switzerland
  • Christina, Switzerland

    Many thanks for the extensive support (before, during and after the trip) and the professional handling of our concerns. With your support we had a smooth and unforgettable vacation in Costa Rica! Our favorite hotels: Hotel Plaza Yara and the Poas Volcano Lodge - a dream!
    All the best

    Christina, Switzerland
  • Jeanne, Bernd & Bill, USA

    Yay! I´m glad we are back on track. Thank you again for helping us with all these changes.
    I´m glad we choose ARA-you are amazing! Thanks for all your help! It made it a very memorable visit!

    Jeanne, Bernd & Bill, USA
  • Janka, The Netherlands

    Hi Eli & ARA Team,
    We have spoken to the guest and they are super enthusiastic about their Costa Rica roundtrip! Everything was well organized, nice hotels, nice mix of activities & beach and they have big compliments for you guys!!
    Many thanks for all the good work!! The guest highly appreciate it!!
    They had lunch nearby in Ara Ambigua Lodge, and they loved this place. Friendly staff and good food!
    Do you work with this accommodation? If so, we would love hear 😊
    Once again, heads off for this amazing trip!
    With warm regards

    Janka, The Netherlands
  • Thomas, Deborah, Eva & Paula, Switzerland

    Dear Priska
    Happily I write some words to you in English, so you can easily forward them also to Ara Tours, please. Thank you all, we spent a magic time in Costa Rica! Baumeler's and Ara Tours organisation and logistics were perfect, everything worked out even better than we expected. The tours were brilliant, we really enjoyed everything very very much!
    All the accomodation was absolutely wonderful... the setting, the quality, the food, with happy helpful friendly staff everywhere. It was a wonderful way to experience this beautiful country the way we did, on a private tour with personal guide and drivers. We saw and learnt sooo much - it would have been impossible to do so on our own.
    Especially we praise our brilliant guide Fernando Perez, we benefited so much from his truly wide knowledge and deep love for his Country which he passed on in lovely encouraging way. We even became friends and we will meet in Switzerland coming September! Also our driver Carlos Sandi was great, not only as a driver but also as a compagnion, animal spotter and photographer. Thank you!
    So.... now we just enjoy our last day...
    Sunny greetings, pura vida

    Thomas, Deborah, Eva & Paula, Switzerland
  • Yvonne & Andrea, Switzerland

    Hello all
    Unfortunately, our wonderful trip is already over and everyday life has caught up with us again. We would like to thank you very much for everything. The trip was planned exactly according to our wishes and we have seen so many beautiful places.
    Thank you Stefanie!
    We have felt completely comfortable and top cared for by you. Via Whats App we got immediate answers to our questions, with the car everything worked out great. In all locations we were treated very warmly and nicely. It was just so indescribably beautiful, we will dream of the beautiful experiences for a long time. In any case, we will warmly recommend you and hope for a next time. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    Best regards.

    Yvonne & Andrea, Switzerland
  • Anita, Switzerland

    We have arrived safely in Switzerland and have already returned to work.
    It was a wonderful trip you put together for us.
    Your excellent service, as well as the 24 hour support service from ARA Tours, was truly outstanding.
    I have already recommended you several times and would book with you again and again. Thank you very much and keep me informed if there are any interesting offers.
    Best wishes.

    Anita, Switzerland
  • Lukas & Isabelle, Switzerland

    Hello Pedro, our time in CR is coming to an end and we wanted to say "thank you very much for organizing a phenomenal week". Everything has been well organized and we have seen many beauties of nature. Thanks!

    Lukas & Isabelle, Switzerland
  • Reinout & Yvonne, The Netherlands

    Thanks Jenny for the clear answer. We will make an appointment via the link you gave us.
    Today we visited National Parc Cabo Blanco. What an amazing park, so quiet for tourists, so full of animals, really lovely and therefore together with Monte Verde, Cahuita and Corcovado the park today, Cabo Blanco, scores high in our ranking of most beautiful parks of CR.These parks give us reason, together with the Pura Vida in CR, to come back soon. We'll keep in contact.

    Reinout & Yvonne, The Netherlands
  • Dominik, Germany

    Good day Jennifer
    As we have already told Simone, the stay at Lapa Rios is extremely enriching, thanks to the well planned planting and the untouched environment we see a lot of animals. Contrary to the plans before the stay, we do not want to visit more animals in captivity at the end. We will have a look at the few hours before we leave.
    We thank you and your team very much for the excellent advice and the permanent support! We can only recommend Ara Tours.
    Best regards.

    Dominik, Germany
  • Daniel, Jana & Theo, Germany

    A big thank to you, you saved our vacation!
    Communication already worked very well in Germany. The help from you, especially through Aline, should be mentioned here. This was fantastic from the first WhatsApp message to the last. We already know Costa Rica, so we knew what we wanted and what not. Ara Tours was an important point of contact for us. We are very grateful to Aline precisely because our actual travel agent cancelled our trip 36 hours before departure. She immediately organized everything for us. Whether the hotel in beautiful Punta Leona, the tours to the national parks, even the shuttle service with the great driver Guillerno Ortega has to be mentioned here. We are very grateful to you, dear Aline, but also to the entire Ara Tours team. You too made our almost 3-week trip to Costa Rica unforgettable again. We would love to come back and of course we will book through Ara Tours again.

    Daniel, Jana & Theo, Germany
  • Alexander & family, Switzerland

    Thank you, everything really worked out great. Super organization and at any time quick info / help / support from you!
    We liked it very much. The conclusion in Quepos was crowning. We liked the beach in the National Park Manuel Antonio very much. We would have liked to stay longer, but we take home many wonderful, unforgettable impressions. PURA VIDA!
    Many thanks to you Aline! We will gladly recommend you to others.

    Alexander & family, Switzerland
  • Neumann Family, Germany

    - The route was super planned, first on the beach time to arrive and then only from Monteverde with excursions inland etc. and at the end again beach - perfect!
    - Support from Ara Tours was VERY good!!! Through Whatsapp reachability the service was great, very quick answers / very flexible, good suggestions etc. Also with the doctor Ara Tours helped with translations by phone - that was really very, very good!
    - The home stay day was an absolute highlight - very authentic - so we got to know the locals REAL, the family was super friendly and very open and have talked about everything. Not at all touristy perceived.

    Neumann Family, Germany
  • Marine & Bruno, France

    We would like to thank you personally for this beautiful trip that you organised for us and for the follow-up that you did throughout the stay. A big thank you also to Jennifer d'Ara tours! Thank you again and have a great week!

    Marine & Bruno, France
  • Walter, Switzerland

    We really appreciated your (almost) daily updates from Costa Rica on Covid and related issues. That was a highlight compared to other incoming agents worldwide! We thank you for your effort and wish you that you manage the coming time well and stay healthy.

    Walter, Switzerland
  • Ronald, Germany

    Our great compliments for keeping us informed every day on the developments. We wish you all the best and keep yourself and families in good health and mood during this unprecedented period!

    Ronald, Germany
  • Kathrin, Germany

    You are really super! It is impressive how you manage the crisis with your super flow of information and the great reversal. Hats off!

    Kathrin, Germany
  • Michael, Germany

    Hello, we were on a round trip in Costa Rica from 27.11., which was booked through BigXtra and organised by them. We would like to take this opportunity to thank you very much. The tour was simply amazing! The support by Carlos was just great. We have done many trips before, but this one was an unforgettable experience thanks to Carlos. Carlos speaks very good German and was able to sensitively introduce us to Costa Rica, its incomparable nature and its great, friendly inhabitants. Pura Vida became for us a term for the attitude towards life in Costa Rica. Please say hello to Carlos from us and once again a huge thank you to him in the name of the whole group of 8. We wish him only the best for his future.

    Michael, Germany
  • Evelyne, Switzerland

    Wie just did a 4 week trip in Costa Rica which was organised from ARA tours and we really liked it - well done Ara Tours! We also had a guide - his name is Enrique. His German is really good and he knows a lot about Costa Rica and he showed us a lot of animals. We had a wonderful time with hime - thank you so much Enrique!

    Evelyne, Switzerland
  • Tanja, Germany

    perfect tour perfect tour guide pablo, everything very well organised 👍👍👍👍🇨🇷🇨🇨🇷 were thrilled

    Tanja, Germany
  • Ines, Germany

    Many thanks and great praise to our tour guide Mauricio and our bus driver Adrian! We felt very comfortable during the 2 weeks in Costa Rica. The wide-ranging knowledge of Mauricio and the super driving skills of Adrian were particularly admirable. Thanks to the eagle eyes of both of them, we had the opportunity to observe a variety of animals in Costa Rica. Thank you for everything!

    Ines, Germany
  • Sabine, Germany

    I can only recommend ARA Tours. Thanks again to Nicole for the great planning of the tour and the support. Our tour guide Peter Käser was simply incredible (a walking encyclopaedia) and always had an answer to all my questions about the flora and fauna and the history of CR. Our driver Julio carried my father on his hands, for which I am very grateful. CR is also worth a trip for wheelchair users at any time (with ARA Tours, of course).

    Sabine, Germany
  • Thieme Family, Germany

    We would like to thank you once again for organizing our trip [...] through the beautiful country of Costa Rica. Our special thanks go to our tour guide Enrique, who with his extensive knowledge of flora and fauna about his country brought it very close to us and made us want to come even a second time. We were very glad and happy to travel with him, as he was also very committed to our problems on site, in addition to his competent function as a tour guide.

    Thieme Family, Germany
  • Antonia-Maria & Boris, Austria

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your sensational effort! I do not know such a competent tour guide as with you really from nowhere else... and we have already traveled a lot... 🙏🏻🍀

    Antonia-Maria & Boris, Austria
  • Katja, Germany

    I wanted to thank you again for the great Costa Rica trip. We flew back home very happy and with many great impressions. A compliment for the super organisation. Everything worked out perfectly (except for the handover of the rental car, which was force majeure...). So thank you again and I have already recommended you to friends:-)!

    Katja, Germany
  • Denise & Alain, Switzerland

    Thank you very much for your email and the tickets. We really appreciate how quickly and efficiently you deal with our requests each time!

    Denise & Alain, Switzerland
  • Philippe, Switzerland

    Hello Christine Thank you very much for this information. The support is super👍 many thanks Gruss

    Philippe, Switzerland
  • Marianne & Stefan Gräub, Switzerland

    Otherwise, the planned trip was a complete success. Everything went well and the visits you organised were all very interesting. The visits you organised were all very interesting and gave us a great insight into the respective topics. The fact that the Ticos are very friendly and always ready to help was fully confirmed.

    Marianne & Stefan Gräub, Switzerland

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