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Guide of Costa Rica natural biodiversity, Part IV

The last chapter of this amazing journey through Costa Rica takes us to Puntarenas. This province is the largest one of the country covering almost all the Pacific coast of the country. El Puerto as Ticos refer to Puntarenas, is home to 9 protected areas, some very popular like Manuel Antonio, others not so much and we will conclude with the area that National Geographic named as “the most intense place in the world, biologically speaking”.


Cabo Blanco Absolut Nature Reserve

This beautiful Pacific territory has a special historic importance as it is the first are of the country to be protected, setting the precedent for the eco-tourism which is the most important economic activity for the country nowadays.


With 4,418 acres of protected ocean and 3,138 acres of protected land, Cabo Blanco’s major attraction is the abundance of seabirds. Along the coast of this reserve, three small islands are the roost for more than 500 brown pelicans each night. Other seabirds found on these shores are the magnificent frigatebird, the black-headed gull and the brown booby.

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With primary and secondary forest, this reserve protects more than 150 species of trees, 240 species of birds, a great variety of marine life with diversity of fish and crustaceous, and mammals like monkeys, anteaters, coatis, porcupines, armadillos and wildcats.




Curu Wildlife Refuge

This scenic and biologically important region located in the Nicoya Peninsula is the first private protected area of the country founded in 1933, gaining its status of wildlife conservation area in 1981 from the Costa Rican Government.

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The private Hacienda is an example of sustainable management providing hospitality services, recreational activities, fruits production and cattle.

Four different habitats, 500 species of plants including 15 species of trees, more than 200 species of birds, more than 80 species of reptiles and more than 70 species of mammals including 25 species of bats, monkeys, the white-tail deer, the collared peccary and coyotes; can be observed when visiting Curu.



Reserva Biolgica Islas Guayabo, Negritos y Pajaros

These four islands (Negritos is the name for two different islands), are located off the coast of Playa Naranjo in the Nicoya Peninsula.

With a different geological formation, the four islands main objective is to protect the numerous seabirds that rooster there. While the Negritos islands are made of basalts part of the Nicoya complex, the Guayabo and Pajaros Islands are made of sandstone and luttie, this means that they also differ on the type of vegetation found on its surface.

Image by Guillermo Chavez

Like said before, these islands are a must for the bird watching enthusiasts. The main species that visit the islands are the brown pelican, the brown booby, gulls, the peregrine falcon and frigatebirds. The brown pelican, an endangered species, chooses the Guayabo island every year as its nesting place gathering from 200 to 300 individuals.

The islands can only be visited by boat and any type of infrastructure can be found on them.



Carara National Park

This widely visited National Park owes its biological diversity to be an area of transition between a dry region and the wettest region of the country.

With 1,400 species of plants, Carara is one of the most diverse places in the world in species of trees, including 10 of the most exotic and rare woods of the country.

The Tarcoles river is one of the most famous spots of the park, due to the large populations of crocodiles, a condition that gives the name of the park as Carara means crocodiles river in Huetar, an indigenous language.

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The park is also considered a sanctuary for the Scarlet Macaws, the population of the stunning bird reaches a number of 200 individuals, allowing the visitors to easily see the exotic bird during their visit. Some other birds that can be found on Carara are: the Collared Aracari, the Fiery-billed Aracari, the American egret, the toucan, the jacana, the Anhinga and the Boat-billed Herons.

Other fauna that monkeys, armadillos, collared peccary, pacas, two-toes slots, anteaters and some wildcats.



Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio possess beaches that have been ranked among the top best beaches in the world. This National Park is one of the smallest of the country but also one of the most visited because of its scenic beauty.

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The tropical wet forest is the responsible for the biological richness of this protected area, comprising primary and secondary forest, wetlands, beach vegetation and marine ecosystems. Manuel Antonio also has four secluded beaches and a lagoon of 34 acres with small islands that rooster an important population of endangered seabirds.

Two endangered species are protected on this National Park. The Grey-Crowned Central American Squirrel Monkey or Mono Tit, is a subspecies endemic to the park and the smallest monkey of the country. Experts recorded a population of less than 2,000 individuals by 2008. The threats this species have to face include the fragmentation and loss of its habitat and of course the human as this tiny monkey is still taken as a pet. The second endangered species safeguarded in Manuel Antonio is the Guapinol Negro tree or Cynometra hemitomophylla, a tree desired for its wood that can reach to measure the 130 feet of height.

Other fauna that can be found in Manuel Antonio gather 109 species of mammals and more than 200 species of birds.



Ballena Marine National Park

With 13,282 acres of marine area and 272 acres of land, Ballena was created to protect habitats crucial for the reproduction and nesting of many marine species.

From July to October, the giant humpback whales arrive each year from north and south of the continent to give birth to their offspring. Some other marine mammals that visit the park include the Short-beaked common dolphin, the Pantropical spotted dolphin, the Common bottlenose dolphin. Also, there have been sightings of Orcas and pilot whales.

One of the most famous features of this park is the Punta Uvita Tombolo, a landform that connects an island to the mainland by a narrow piece of land. This unique Tombolo has a clear form of a whale tail.

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Other marine fauna protected on this national park include a coral reef with 5 species of coral, 70 species of coral fish and other deep-water fish, the endangered Caribbean spiny lobster, the leatherback and green turtle nest on the beaches, rays, hammerhead sharks and sea stars.



Isla del Cano Biological Reserve

Located 12 miles outside the Osa Peninsula, this island of 741 acres have an inland limited wildlife but rich in marine biodiversity.

The island is surrounded by 5 coral reef platforms sheltering more than 12 species of coral and giving life to a wide variety of fish, seaweed and invertebrates.

The humpback whales also migrate to this island to give birth and feed their offspring.

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Golfito wildlife refuge

In an area of the country where the agriculture has destroyed the primary forests, this wildlife refuge is a nature island comprising an area of 6,943 acres. Even though the refuge is not extensive, the biodiversity that can be found here is a treasure.

The tropical rain forest features tall and evergreen trees full of epitaphs. This protected area has a special hydric importance for the city of Golfito because many of the rivers that supply the city are born here.

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The fauna found here is diverse with more than 140 species of birds; mammals like the agouti, raccoons, the ocelot, the jaguar, the endangered peccary, the endangered ant bear; and great variety of insects and reptiles.



Corcovado National Park

To close our journey with a flourish, Corcovado is home to 2,5% of the biodiversity of the planet. This national park has been internationally recognized for its conservational value and because it is the perfect living laboratory.

Corcovado protects the only old growth wet forest on the Pacific Coast of Central America with more than 500 species of trees and 13 different ecosystems.

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This national park is the living definition of wilderness with more than 350 species of birds including the largest population of scarlet macaws, the white-tailed kite and the harpy eagle; 140 mammals (10% of all species of the continent) including the howler monkey, the white-faced monkey, the spider monkey and the Tit monkey, the jaguar, the ocelot, the cougar, the anteater and the peccary; 120 species of reptiles and amphibious; from 6 to 10 thousand kind of insects; 40 species of freshwater fish; 4 species of sea turtles, dolphins, sharks and whales.

Corcovado also has many birth and mouths of rivers, beaches and waterfalls.




If you hear a talk about biodiversity in any place of the world, you will probably hear also about Costa Rica. This tiny country with such a high value to the planet, that has also take so many great steps into conservation and sustainability, should not be taken lightly

We invite you all to not only appreciate nature but also visit our country to help to spread the voice about how important is biodiversity and conservation for our planet.

If you decide to visit Costa Rica, let us know, we hope you can stay with us and maybe you decide to stay forever.


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