Costa Rica

Costa Rica Rainforest

The number, size and variety of our tropical forests make Costa Rica unique. With Cloud Forests in the mountains, Tropical Rainforests on the South Pacific and Caribbean Coasts, Dry Tropical Forests on the North Pacific Coast, and Transitional Zone Forests on the Central Pacific Coast, few places on earth have so much diversity in such a small area. Each have their own unique traits and variety of plant and animal species. Don't miss what Costa Rica is most known for!

Rainforests are home to far more species than any of the world's other habitats. Their type depends on elevation and rainfall. The variety and sheer volume of life in these forests is staggering. We have 850 species of birds in Costa Rica, which is more than all of North American combined! The symbiosis of bird, insect, plant and animal life is fascinating. You could spend many lifetimes exploring our rainforests, and still not fully understand the complexity of life in this ecosystem.

Costa Rica is home to primary and secondary forests. Primary rainforest is pristine and untouched with a well developed canopy and clear forest floor. Secondary rainforest has been disturbed but replanted or allowed to regrow. The canopy is immature, allowing sunlight to reach the forest floor, resulting in dense vegetation considered jungle. There is no need to limit your viewing to primary rainforest, as animals inhabit them both.

Rainforests are disappearing world-wide. Costa Rica has reserved proportionately more of its land as National Parks and Reserves than any other country. It is very committed to protecting its forests. Despite this, de-forestation still wreaks havoc on all species. For example, the cloud forests in Monteverde are not the same as they were just a few years ago, so we recommend you see them now.

You will be astonished by the varied micro-climates in Costa Rica, all of which create slightly different habitats for hundreds of plant and animal species. The rainforest is home to monkeys, sloths, strangler fig trees, leaf-cutter ants, coatimundis, toucans, quetzals, and thousands of other species, but they are often difficult to see.

Corcovado National Park
Lowland Tropical Rainforest

Tropical rainforest is found on the South Pacific and Caribbean Coasts of Costa Rica.  This is the most biologically diverse type of forest because it receives heavy and consistent rainfall throughout the year.  A large number of fruiting trees attract an astonishing variety of birds and animals.  Corcovado National Park, on the South Pacific Coast, is one of the best examples of Tropical Rainforest in the World.  Tropical Rainforest is what you typically see on programs such as National Geographic.
Cloudforest in Costa Rica
Cloudforest (High Montane Tropical Rainforest)

Monteverde is the most well known cloudforest of Costa Rica, however, there are other cloudforests more easily accessible. Cloudforest receives most of its precipitation through mist or fog rising from humid, lower altitudes. The ground is noticibly dry and dusty compared with the mossy, moist trees above. The canopy is less developed than lower elevations but home to butterflies, frogs and many epiphytes such as orchids, bromeliads and tilandsia.
Montane Tropical Forest
Mid Elevation Rainforest
(Montane Tropical Rainforest)

Montane Tropical rainforest is found from about 1,500 - 4,000 feet above sea level and contain a wide variety of plant and animal species.  This type of forest used to predominate Costa Rica but has since been cut down for human habitation and agricultural culitivation.  The moderate climate at this elevation make for easy living for humans and hundreds of plant, bird and animal species.  Arenal Volcano features great examples of this type of rainforest.
Carara National Park
Transitional Rainforest

Transitional Rainforest is found primarily on the Central Pacific Coast, between the Dry Tropical Forest of the North Pacific and Tropical Rainforest of the South Pacific.  This forest, between 0 - 1,500 feet above Sea Level, features a diverse mix of plant and animal species from the Dry and Tropical forests.  Carara National Park and Manuel Antonio National Park are excellent examples of this type of forest.

Dry Tropical Forest
Dry Tropical Forest

Found on the North Pacific Coast at or near Sea Level, Dry Tropical Forest receives hardly any rainfall from December - May.  Large deciduous trees bloom with an abundance of colors just before they lose their leaves in dry season.  Cactus and yucca thrive in this climate.  Visitors desiring lush, green surroundings are often suprised by the dry, arid environment here.  Santa Rosa National Park, near the Nicaragua Border is the best example of this type of forest.