If you’ve spent any time learning about Costa Rica and/or exploring all that there is to do and see there, you probably already know that Costa Rica is full of plant life known as “flora and fauna.” In fact, many natural preservation sites and other outdoor locales often boast about their beautiful displays of flora and fauna, but what, exactly, are flora and fauna? To start with, the term “flora” refers to any natural or indigenous native plant life. So, flora is, simply put, any plant life that is naturally occurring in Costa Rica, and the reason it’s worth seeing is because much of the plant life you’ll find in Costa Rica can’t be found in other parts of the world. Similarly, “fauna” is simply a term for the native wildlife of an area and, as is the case with the flora in Costa Rica, you will likely be exposed to many types of animal life that you wouldn’t get a chance to see otherwise.
If you are someone who can appreciate the natural beauty of blooming plants, then you’ll absolutely love the vast amount of flora that exists in Costa Rica. The country is home to more than 9000 different species of plants, so there’s definitely no shortage of plant life to see. Certain plants even come in more Costa Rican varieties than you might think possible; there are, for example, more than 800 different types of ferns found in Costa Rica! To most foreigners, ferns are simple, nothing-special plants, but when you see the many different types of gorgeous ferns in Costa Rica, you’ll start to view this plant differently! While you can find beautiful examples of flora in many outdoor areas of Costa Rica, some of the most breathtaking specimens can be found in the rainforests, cloud forests, and tropical dry forests. Beaches and waterways also make for good flora-exploring spots, since the shores tend to be peppered with beautiful blooms.
People who love animals large and small will be in heaven in Costa Rica! It is the place to go to see tropical, exotic animals that are only found in a select few other places around the globe. Costa Rica is the native home to more than 200 types of mammals, as well as a vast array of reptiles, birds, insects, and more. Best of all, most Costa Rican locales have realized how much of a draw the local fauna is to tourists and have thus created prime spots for viewing (and sometimes even interacting!) with the local animal life. There are places that allow visitors to view and maybe even hold native birds, including the elusive hummingbird. Snakes, lizards, turtles, and sloths are also quite abundant. And, though they might not seem as exciting, there are also a wide range of colorful insects to view. You might have to get down on your hands and knees and look closely, but if you do, you’re sure to find a few intricate little insects.
One of the most beloved and distinctive plants in all of Costa Rica is the Heliconia. More commonly known as “lobster claws,” thanks to their crustacean-like appearance, these beautiful plants tend to be quite angular and come in both red and orange varieties. The plants tend to grow very large and are often encountered in huge batches in the wild. However, they are also a flower that is commonly cut and displayed , so it’s not at all rare to see smaller ones housed in vases or growing on porches. The flower is able to survive and even thrive in the areas of Costa Rica that boast a warm, humid climate, which is most of the country. And, one fascinating fact is that larger Heliconias are often pollinated by bats or full-size birds! While many locales will sell Heliconia plants to tourists, you’re better off just enjoying them while you’re there. The flower can be very difficult to grow outside of the country and, furthermore, it is likely illegal to bring flowers or plants from another country back into your own country of origin. If you’re still determined to give it a try, make sure you check on the regulations surrounding plants as they relate to your country.
Horribly Cute Howler Monkeys!
If you only see one type of animal-life while you’re in Costa Rica, make sure it’s the Howler monkey! These delightfully spunky little monkeys are named for their loud, long cries, and it’s a sound you truly have to hear to believe. You’re most likely to hear those vast howls at sunrise or sunset, so if it’s important to you, you may want to plan your Howler monkey excursion with that fact in mind. You don’t have to be too close to hear the howl, however; it’s so loud that it can often be heard as much as three miles away! Aside from their cool calls, these little guys are just downright cute, making it worth a special trip just to see them!