Carara National Park in Costa Rica for bird watching

Today I will take you on a tour of Carara National Park in Costa Rica, where we will discover the magnificent fauna and flora, many species of birds, but also the largest crocodiles in Costa Rica.

Carara National Park is very easily accessible because it is located at the mouth of the Rio Tarcoles. You can get there from Alajuela, or San José by following the road that passes through Orotina, leading to the Pacific coast (90 km from San José, 50 km from Puntarenas). This national park is located at the junction of the dry forest of northwestern Costa Rica and the humid forest of the plains of the South Pacific coast, which gives it a particular climatic situation.

Do you know what “Carara” means?

Well, the region was previously populated by an indigenous tribe called Huetar. In the Huetar language, “carara” means crocodile. Yes, it is really from these surroundings that you will be able to admire the largest crocodiles in Costa Rica, and visits are organized to see them up close. But my advice is to go to the crocodile bridge to enjoy it; there you can take some wonderful pictures.

The visit of Carara National Park

First of all, like any national park in Costa Rica, the entrance will cost you $10, but what I strongly advise you to take a Costa Rican guide: it helps the local economy and moreover, they have the expert eye to find you the birds that are numerous in this park and difficult to see. Some of them speak French, ask them.

We were really not disappointed to take a guide because there are more than 400 species of birds in this park, so it is an ideal place for great observers. But alone, it is true that this is difficult. Moreover, it allows you to take beautiful pictures because the guide glues the camera to the binoculars, it’s the best!

You can often spot the orange-billed Tohi, red peacock, pink-throated Becard, blue-headed Pioneer, masked Woodpecker, red-tailed Jacamar and many other bird species… But the one you should definitely look for, and which is very rare and difficult to see in the rest of Costa Rica, is the red peacock.

Red groundnut: it is quite easy to observe in Carara National Park, especially in June and July. To guide you, you must listen to his cry: only a few seconds later, you will see a couple fly away. It is a rare bird because to tell you its story, it is the most faithful: this bird chooses a single female for life, with whom it will reproduce; therefore, in the event of separation, or if one of the two dies, it will remain alone.

You can also see other species of animals, such as large red ants on the ground that sting terribly (be careful where you walk!), or monkeys, lazy, the red daguet, white-tailed deer, the collared peccary and some absolutely monstrous American crocodile specimens.

There is also a very beautiful fauna to observe, with more than 750 plant species, such as these acacias that mingle with strangling fig trees, dream shelters for animals.

After we paid for the entrance to the national park, the guide took us by car from another entrance about a hundred metres away, where we plunged into the wilderness to discover the birds.

But from the entrance to the park, you can choose between two paths: the first, named Sendero las araceas, is about 1.2 km long and this walk can be combined with a circuit on the second path, the Sendero Quebrada Bonita, which is about 1.5 km. Both cross the primary forest which constitutes the major part of the park.

When to go to Carara National Park?

I advise you to go there if possible during the dry season, between December and April (we had been there in March). Although animals are present during the rains, March and April are the driest months, with tropical heat between 25 and 28°C; it is a little cooler in the heart of the forest.

Otherwise, there is still significant precipitation. Remember to take an ecological insect repellent, it will prevent you from being eaten. And last advice: to make the most of the animals and birds, get up early and be at the entrance to the park at 7 a.m.

Where to sleep?

There are lodges in which you can stay to be as close as possible to nature and thus observe the birds. Hotels also exist around the park but I do not recommend them.

Where to stay in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is a Central American country. Located between Panama to the south and Nicaragua to the north, Costa Rica is known and recognized worldwide as “one of the last natural paradises”, with 20 parks and nature reserves, magnificent beaches, lush nature and exceptional landscapes. The richness of its fauna and flora rarely leaves anyone indifferent. It should be noted that 10% of the world’s butterflies live in Costa Rica. It is the ideal destination for nature lovers and lovers of beautiful landscapes.

Are you planning to go to Costa Rica very soon and you don’t know where to stay yet? Here is a small non-exhaustive list of the types of accommodation in Costa Rica.

Guest room or “Guesthouse”

By definition “le Guesthouse is a dwelling whose rooms are arranged to accommodate people looking for a place to eat and sleep, while interacting with the owners in their daily lives.” During your stay in Costa Rica, why not opt for this type of accommodation for a total immersion in the daily life of the premises. In addition, you should know that Guesthouses are becoming more and more common in Costa Rica. With the Guesthouse, the inhabitants ensure the reception of their customers.

Apartment in Costa Rica

The apartment is a good solution for students who want independence and freedom. This type of accommodation will allow you to talk with people from different countries. Great meetings to improve your communication skills. Apartments in Costa Rica are generally well equipped with kitchens and bathrooms. Single or double rooms, by sharing the rent with 2 or 3 other students, you can save a little money. Please note that the apartments are often within walking distance of bus stops, cafés, bars, shops and restaurants.

Accommodation in cabinas

Cabinas are small family hotels with 4 to 10 rooms. During your stay in Costa Rica, if you are looking for local accommodation, opt for cabinas. Once there, you will be welcomed! A very simple, warm and friendly welcome awaits you. Generally, the room is single, often with free Internet, free access to the kitchen, breakfast in the morning included in the price and a private bathroom. However, today you will find a little of everything in the term cabinas, from a very affordable price to exorbitant and unjustified prices.

Residential accommodation

Accommodation with local residents is a fairly common option and is increasingly appealing to tourists looking for an authentic and unforgettable stay in Costa Rica. Indeed, the country is best known for the hospitality of its premises. Daily contact with the inhabitants will allow you to learn more about the habits and everyday life of Costa Ricans. This type of accommodation will also allow you to learn more about local customs and traditions. As an indication, Costa Ricans generally go to bed early in the evening.