Technically, I live in a temperate rainforest, which is a fancy way of saying we get 100+ inches a year, which feeds our giant trees and keeps everything green.
Costa Rica is home to some of the best tropical rainforests in the world. And since tourism is the country’s No. 1 business, they work hard to protect their forests, beaches and wildlife.
The wildlife is what really impressed me. We were lucky enough to have two naturalists show us around, and both of them could spot a rare bird, insect or monkey long before we did. Some of these shots (especially the ones of birds) are actually using my phone through a spotting scope, which is tricky.
As a kid, I loved monkeys and would spend hours at the monkey section of zoos in Germany, Holland, New York–wherever we lived. So for me, Costa Rica was amazing, because you couldn’t step outside without seeing monkeys: capuchins, squirrel monkeys and howlers.
The howlers make scary noises and are bigger than the others, and they don’t come close to people, but they’re not aggressive. Vegetarians with a bark far worse than their bite.
The capuchins are pretty common and aren’t afraid of people. You’re not supposed to feed them, though some people still do, but even if you follow the rules, the capuchins hang around waiting for people to (a) drop food or (b) leave fruit or other goodies unattended. Because they will jump in there and steal your fruit.
Squirrel monkeys were a special treat. They travel in packs of up to 90 members and the males try to impress the females by jumping insanely large distances between the trees. Like the capuchins, they aren’t afraid of people and would come down on lower branches to check us out. Not to beg or steal food, just to be curious. Beautiful little guys.
The crocodiles were intense–and you don’t swim in the rivers anywhere near where they are.
For folks thinking about traveling here, two things stand out: the food was amazing, regardless of what restaurant we visited. World rankings right now: Costa Rica, Greece then Japan, I kid you not.
The second thing is the level of service. Prices aren’t as insanely cheap as you’ll find elsewhere, but I’ve never seen such good service, top to bottom, from the naturalists on tours to the hotel staff to the bus drivers. Maybe it’s because tourism is their No. 1 industry and they make it a focus instead of an after-thought. Everything ran smoothly.
It’s a clean, safe country. 11/10 would recommend.