Getting Ecological in Costa Rica

Walking towards our hotel room in the jungle of Arenal

As I said in my first piece on Costa Rica, my trip here was much more of the jungle-beach-tour type of event. One of the benefits of working with guides is the wealth of knowledge you can be communicated vs. going solo. I learned more about the environment than ever before in this nation containing 5% of the worlds ecological diversity.

Finding Flora and Fauna

In Costa Rica we went on two nature hikes and two guided night hikes. Through these experiences we observed some of the world’s deadliest spiders (banana spider, wandering spider), tree frogs, sloths, cocoa trees, something called blue cheese fruit, and a lizard that walks on water.

Poison Dart (aka Blue Jeans) tree frog
This lizard can walk on water

In one tour we additionally were taught the whole process of making chocolate from cocoa. All the way from sucking on raw cocoa beans which were white, tangy and slimy like something out of an Alien movie… To making our own chocolate using our hands.

However, even on our own walks we saw things like a jungle deer, iguana, capuchin monkeys, painted crabs, trails of Leaf Cutter Ants and a “chicken eating” toad. The jungle was clearly alive when walking around in Costa Rica’s high humidity and temperatures (85-93 F).

Leaf Cutter Ant trail

Developed vs. Undeveloped Jungles

It was very interesting to compare my Madagascar trip with Costa Rica. Both very diverse in landscapes and flora/fauna with fantastically different infrastructure.

In Madagascar I felt everything was more alive with twice the biodiversity seen than Costa Rica. Meanwhile, the guides in Costa Rica knew so much more the science and background of everything. Making our Madagascar guides feel more constrained in their knowledge. Maybe because they had to train guides in three unfamiliar languages.

Costa Rica is a template for many on how ecotourism can promote sustainability and conservation. Something I am very thankful for and I’m glad I experienced it, but I don’t think it was my kinda place due to the heat-humidity alone. There are more wild places to explore, when I’m ready for the adventure.