To answer this question in one simple word, yes! Costa Rica has a rich biodiversity; this small country has more bird species than the United States. It’s not just the birds that makes Costa Rica such a destination for wildlife photographers, hidden in the depths of its forests, there is a wide variety of mammals, amphibians, insects and some beautiful and rare flora and fauna.
You will experience the exuberance the tropics have to offer, captivated by a wildlife photography experience unique to the country alone. Though it is difficult to say which animal you would see where in Costa Rica, one thing you can rest assured is, regardless of where you wander, you will see something or the other.
If you keep your eyes open and trek quietly, you will find the forest canopy and forest flower, showered with animal life. Even the smallest of insects found in these forests make for some amazing macro photographs.
You will end up taking far more photographs than you think you would take, for there truly is so much to cover in Costa Rica. We will take a look at some of the more popular destinations in Costa Rica for wildlife photographers as we list out the best wildlife photography tours in Costa Rica.
Best Wildlife Photography Tours in Costa Rica
The unique ecosystems in Costa Rica make it an ideal destination for wildlife photographers from around the world. You can expect to cover the three ecosystems of the Osa Peninsula, Cloud Forest and Rainforest during your visit to the country. Covering all three ecosystems will give you an excellent chance of capturing some amazingly beautiful wildlife pictures.
From the poison dart frogs to the hummingbirds, the forests are teeming with wildlife of all shapes and sizes. The number of rare species you will encounter will leave you clicking at almost every turn.
Here is the list of the best wildlife photography tours in Costa Rica.
1) The Bird’s Lagoon
You can visit The Bird’s Lagoon as you depart from Puerto Jimenez, where you will find yourself in the local bird habitat.
Hiking along the creeks, you will be captured by the scenic beauty of the lagoon. There are some amazing rare species of birds which if you are lucky, you’ll be able to capture with your camera. Egrets, herons and ibis are common in this natural habitat of Costa Rica
If you are after some amazing birdwatching opportunities, then The Bird’s Lagoon at the top of the list should be the one that you definitely consider for your visit to Costa Rica.
2) Manuel Antonio National Park
The national park boasts a spectacular forest, home to a wide variety of wildlife. It is one of the best places to visit for wildlife photographers.
If accompanied by a local nature expert, you will encounter even more species of wildlife than you had first anticipated.
You will have the chance to get a closer look at some of the amazing wildlife the national park boasts and will encounter many species of insects, mammals and amphibians on your trails.
3) Sarapiqui for Birdwatching
In Sarapiqui alone, there are over 530 bird species native to the region. If you are a fan of birdwatching and are looking to capture some beautiful pictures of birds, then Sarapiqui is the destination for you.
The microhabitats of the region, coupled with the rich flora makes it a great location to catch birds. You will have the opportunity to see various species of birds that fly the skies in this part of Costa Rica.
Considering all the species of birds you may encounter on this trip, a tour to Sarapiqui would truly be enriching to any wildlife photographer.
4) Drake Bay Night Hike
When it comes to wildlife photography in Costa Rica, you don’t simply want to limit yourself to the day. There is a wide variety of wildlife that comes out at night.
You will encounter northern raccoons, spiny rats, tamandua anteaters and kinkajous as you trek on a guided tour of Drake Bay.
We say guided, for it is safest at night when you are guided through the forest by an expert. Don’t miss this opportunity to capture some amazing pictures of these nocturnal creatures of Costa Rica at Drake Bay.
Your senses will be left delighted by the experience of hiking through the forest at night. This night hike is truly an unmatched experience which will leave your adventurous spirit refueled.
5) San Pedrillo Station
With an impressive primary forest, San Pedrillo Station is a great location to catch some amazing wildlife from the region.
We aren’t only speaking of the birds and insects when we speak of San Pedrillo Station. If you are after bigger mammals, like the big cat for instance, there is a high chance that you would be able to spot one in this region during the evening.
Located right on the beach, it is a great location for wildlife photography in Costa Rica.
6) Monteverde for Birdwatching
Located in El Bosque, Monteverda is a great location if you are looking to take some beautiful pictures of birds. It is yet another amazing spot for birdwatching in Costa Rica.
With the help of a local guide, you would be able to spot some rare species of birds, making for some spectacular wildlife photographs.
The grounds are simply beautiful, and the evening is probably the best time to catch birds in this location. If you prefer trekking alone, you can get your hands on a map and adventure through the area, looking for all the picture opportunities for yourself at your own pace.
7) Arenal Natura Eco Park
Located in La Fortuna, this eco-park is home to some of the rarest species of amphibians and orchids in the whole country. You will find yourself in the depths of a sublime rainforest, spotting animals at every turn.
From crocodiles to red-eyed frogs, snakes and butterflies, this tropical rainforest will take you through jungle trails in some of the most unspoiled natural settings of this forest reserve.
You will for certain capture some frame-worthy pictures here. The wildlife photography opportunities on this tour are endless.
8) The Butterfly Garden
Depending on the time of the year, you can catch up to 23 different species of butterflies at the Butterfly Garden in Monteverde.
The varied species of butterflies and various insects are found in 4 different habitats. You will have the chance to explore all four habitats, taking pictures as you trek through the trails.
Pictures of butterflies are as beautiful and delicate as the creatures themselves. This is why, the Butterfly Garden in Monteverde, Costa Rica has made this list for the best wildlife photography tours in Costa Rica.
9) Jungles of El Bosque
Located in El Bosque, the jungle is home to a wide variety of bird and wildlife. If you are looking for a good mix of both birdwatching and wildlife photography, then this is a great pick for you.
You will find the jungle teeming with wildlife during the day and have the opportunity to witness many birds at dusk when they are going back to their nests.
With the spotting scope of a local guide, you will find yourself capturing some amazing praiseworthy pictures from your visit to Costa Rica.
It is a jungle adventure, not to be missed in Costa Rica.
10) Arenal Volcano National Park
Located in the Arenal Conservation Area, the Arenal Volcano National Park is a 29,692-acre area with a rich biodiversity of biological complexity.
The national park has two volcanoes, Arenal Volcano and Chato Volcano. This makes it a great place to spot the local wildlife, native to the region.
You may spot deer, tapir, howler monkeys, snakes and various birds. Allowing for some amazing sights, the Arenal Volcano National Park will not disappoint you if you are looking for good wildlife photography opportunities in Costa Rica.
11) Hanging Bridges
You will find yourself in a wildlife sanctuary when you visit the Hanging Bridges in Costa Rica. There is a diverse variety of wildlife hidden in the depths of the forest.
With a rich biodiversity, the trails will be rewarding for any wildlife photographer. If you look through the different layers of this rainforest where the Hanging Bridges are located, you will find the treetops understory and forest floor teeming with wildlife.
You will truly get a real chance to appreciate the various species of animals on this spectacular biological marvel of the region.
12) Ecocentro Danaus
This nature reserve in La Fortuna has a great trail system which makes it ideal for wildlife photographers. It a great place for birding however birds are not the only appeal to this tour.
You will also catch amphibians, reptiles and mammals as you trail through this forest reserve. Trekking through the jungle, you will uncover most of everything Costa Rica has to offer.
Have a chance to catch the poison-dart frogs which are native to the region.
13) Monteverde Cloud Forest
This haven of untouched jungle is home to some of the rarest plant and animal species who live amongst the clouds of the thick tree growth.
The trek through Monteverde Cloud Forest provides an opportunity to truly appreciate the wildlife in the region, in the scenic background of the cloud forest.
Rich in biodiversity, any wildlife photographer will not be left disappointed from visiting the cloud forest. Best travelled in small groups, there is a lot to cover, tours usually requiring about 5 hours to complete.
14) Rio Celeste
An ideal location for nature lovers, Rio Celeste will leave you clicking more pictures of nature though you are a wildlife photographer. This exceptionally beautiful jungle trail leads through the Havasu Falls, which is beautifully blue.
Don’t get me wrong, this does not mean Rio Celeste does not have wildlife photography opportunities, the Havasu Falls is another perk to make this the preferred tour for your visit to Costa Rica.
The jungle trail is teeming with wildlife and you will find tapirs, monkeys, anteaters, exotic birds and even wild cats.
15) Penas Blancas River
You will have the chance to float down the Penas Blancas River which makes a 3.5-hour journey from La Fortuna.
Floating down this river, you will encounter monkeys, iguanas and a wide variety of birdlife. As peaceful as the surroundings are, you will enjoy this boat trip which rewards you with the perks of some amazing wildlife photography opportunities.
Known as the ‘white water gem’ of Costa Rica, the Penas Blancas River has much to offer the wildlife photographer looking for some spectacular photography opportunities.
16) Manuel Antonio, Jungle Trek at Night
If night photography is what you are after, you will encounter some amazing nocturnal creatures lurking in the depths of the Manuel Antonio jungle.
You have the chance to spot some exciting species of animals who only come out at night. Witness the shining blue morpho butterflies amidst the pitch-black cover of the jungle, a sight to simply marvel at. A single picture as such could be worth your entire trip to Costa Rica.
It is also the best time to find and photograph beautiful tree frogs, colourful insects, shy snakes and mammals that only come out at night.
17) Sacred Mountain Nature Reserve
This nature reserve has some great attractions, the main one being ‘Pozo Verde,’ a volcanic lagoon. The trails at the scared mountain nature reserve offer great opportunities to catch the local wildlife.
It was reported that the red-bellied toad, which was thought to be extinct has been spotted again at the nature reserve. Coupled with the rare species of animals you will encounter, there is a wide variety of mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles in the region, which makes for some great opportunities for wildlife photographers.
You will find yourself amidst the beautiful cloud forest and diverse flora and fauna, capturing pictures of the exotic wildlife native to the region.
18) La Fortuna Night Walk
With a chance to catch the natural creatures of the forest at play, this night walk boasts some great opportunities for wildlife photographers.
You will find yourself with the opportunity to capture the amazing nocturnal wildlife, that only come out at night. From the nocturnal insects to the mammals that live in the depths of the jungle, you will not only find the walk exhilarating but also rewarding.
19) Corcovado National Park
Explore the exuberant forests of Costa Rica as you trek through the Corcovado National Park. Considered one of the best forests in the Amazon basin, the Corcovado forests are teeming with wildlife.
The wide diversity of habitats including the mangrove estuary and lowland rainforest, support a spectacular variety of wildlife.
All four of the monkey species and all six of the feline species in Costa Rica inhabit Corcovado. This is why it is such a rewarding destination for wildlife photographers.
With more than 40 species of frogs and a 100 species of butterflies, the forest is budding with wildlife for you to capture.
20) Night Birdwatching in Monteverde
Have the chance to catch birds at night using flashlights. Though you will see other kinds of animals on this tour, the main focus is the birds.
You will have the rare opportunity to take some amazing pictures of birds at night. The trails are dangerous and cannot be trekked alone, hence you will need an expert guide to show the way.
With the help of an expert guide, you have the chance to spot many native birds by night and capture them in their natural habitat.
Is Costa Rica Good For Wildlife Photography?
As mentioned at the onset of this article, the simple answer is yes! Costa Rica is an ideal destination for wildlife photographers. The rich diversity of animal species makes it one of the most popular destinations for wildlife photographers.
If you’ve been looking for a wildlife photography guide to Costa Rica, we hope reading this word to word has helped you better understand the places you should visit for the best opportunities. Regardless of when you decide to visit this country, there is always scope for some amazing wildlife photography opportunities. You will not be left disappointed!