Best National Parks of Costa Rica
In a country with 28 national parks, there is little way to escape these areas of natural beauty. The pride and joy of this central American country, the national parks cover areas of ocean, volcano highlands, mangrove swamps and jungles. Here is a detailed list of the top parks to visit in Costa Rica.
Corcovado National Park
Located in the heart of the Osa Peninsula on the southwest area of the country, Corcovado has been named one of the most diverse habitats on the planet, rife with resident and eclectic flora and fauna. Encompassing an area just shy of 200 square miles, the national park is one of the last areas of the world to boast lowland tropical forests, home to jaguar, tapir, harpy eagle, margay and anteater, all of which are rare and captivating creatures.
Visitors can easily arrange tours taking them deep into the park with experienced guides and rangers, yet be warned, depending on the season hiking can be treacherous as paths are overgrown and unstable.
Ballena Marine National Park
Between July and November, Antarctic humpback whales calve in the warm waters of the bay while the Pacific Northwest population calve from December to April. This year-long opportunity to see whales in Ballena Marine National Park is the main reason people come to visit this idyllic location. Situated to the north of the Osa Penninsula snorkelling in the national park is exceptional with opportunities to see olive ridley and hawksbill turtles as well as stingrays and manta rays.
The smallest park in Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio is perhaps the most visited. Lined with lush palm trees, white sand beaches and pristine coves, the park has been named one of the most beautiful areas on the planet. While the park itself is small, it is a gateway from the northern Pacific areas to the south, with the chance to encounter crocodiles, sloths and a myriad of bird species.
The first park on the list situated on the Caribbean, Tortuguero is accessible only by plane and boat, with long winding mangrove channels and thick jungle. Sea turtles grace its shores every year and the largest turtle to grace our planet, the leatherback can be observed as they make their way up the black sand beaches to lay their eggs. While it rains a lot in the northern Caribbean, there is always something to see, and being on the water means that the rain should not affect wildlife viewing substantially.
This mystic looking park is home to 10% of the worlds plant species and 2.5% of all the biodiversity. Nestled on the continental divide, the park is often shrouded in mist. 2,500 plant species including the most orchid species in the world, 400 bird (including the stunning resplendent quetzal) and 100 mammals and reptile species make Monteverde one of the most visited areas of the country. Try to stay in the park itself as guides will often organise night safaris and visits to the research stations and educational facilities.