For a tropical vacation with a host of natural wonders take a look at Costa Rica and Panama. The tropical rainforest is on your doorstep in these neighbouring countries where ecotourism is a major industry. There are many options for enjoying the natural beauty and wildlife here plus magnificent beaches where you can simply lay back and relax.
Costa Rica and Panama are in the most ecologically diverse region on the planet so it’s no wonder ecotourism is big here.
- Sustainable tourism and conservation are very important to these countries which strive to preserve the environment.
- Costa Rica has long been a leader in this area and in recent years Panama has been following similar practices.
- Many areas have been preserved as National Parks or Wildlife Refuges.
- Hotels and lodges are carefully assessed for their environmentally friendly practices.
The people live close to nature and visitors come to experience it first hand. From rain forest canopy tours to hiking and caving, there is a wide range of options for discovering the unique natural bounty of the region.
There are also beautiful secluded beaches on both the Pacific and Caribbean sides with surfing a big draw on the Pacific coast. It’s easy to combine your eco-adventure with a beach vacation in Costa Rica and Panama.
Natural & Man Made Wonders
- Rain forests, mangrove swamps, Caribbean and Pacific beaches, cloud forests, rivers and volcanoes both active and dormant are found here.
- The region is so rich in wildlife you often see monkeys and sloths as you drive down the road. The wildlife figures are staggering:
- Costa Rica: 205 mammal species, more than 200 reptiles, 150 amphibians, more than 850 birds and 1,000 species of butterflies.
- Panama: 218 mammal species, 226 reptile, 164 amphibian, 125 animal species found nowhere else in the world and 940 bird species, the largest number in Central America.
- The man made wonder of the Panama Canal adds another dimension to your Panama vacation. You can watch ships from around the world transit the Miraflores Locks at the observation centre.
You’ll have no problem staying active. Here’s a list of things you can do on land and sea:
- White Water Rafting
- Sea Kayaking
- Scuba Diving
- Hot Air Ballooning
- Canopy Ziplining
- Rain Forest Aerial Trams
- Mountain Biking
- Horseback Riding
- Bungee Jumping
- Caves Exploration
Wherever you go there will be opportunities to experience the abundant wildlife. Here are a few examples:
- Sea Turtles: This is one of the best areas to observe several species of sea turtles. You can see the rare spectacle of females coming ashore to lay their eggs and turtle hatching at The Ostional National Wildlife Refuge and Tortuguelo National Park in Costa Rica and Isla de Cañas in Panama.
- Bird Watching: The region is a must for birders seeking the hundreds of species that thrive here. Panama’s Canopy Tower is one of many spots specifically geared for bird watching. The Tower even has a birdmobile to transport birders to remote viewing locations.
- Wildlife Walks: Take a guided walk to see and learn about birds and animals. An example is the walk along the Chagras River in Panama where you’ll see various species of monkeys, sloths, anteaters, iguanas and a variety of birds. Your guide will point out wildlife and interesting tropical flora and fauna along the way.
- Ecolodges: Lodges in the rain forest or cloud canopy give you a chance to easily observe birds and wildlife which may come right to your accommodation. Hike the surrounding trails to see more of the abundant flora and fauna.
- Swim with Sea Life: In Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula, swim with schools of tropical fish off Cano Island. This is a snorkeling and scuba diving haven where it’s possible to mingle with giant moray eels, white tip reef sharks as well as the gentler sea turtles, octopus and jackfish.