Walk through the Rainforest
Bugs, insects, wildlife lurking at every corner while you carefully walk through narrow walking trails under a thick canopy of the rainforest where sunlight is so scarce that you can choose to keep your sunglasses at the hotel room. For the travelers with an avid interest for the environment and the preservation of the wild, the Costa Rican rainforest provides ample opportunity to explore the flora, fauna and wildlife dangerously up close.
In one of the hikes through the canopied rainforest near Arenal, we went through multiple hanging bridges, soaking in the mist and charm of the woods while being far away from the cacophony of urban life. In a 2 mile trail full of excitement, we spotted some of the most exotic creatures and vegetations it had to offer.
Flora and Fauna
Although tiny in terms of landmass, Costa Rica flaunts a heavy percentage of world’s biodiversity. The rainforest itself is a live and dynamic ecosystem with intense competition for survival. Trees grow close to 100 feet tall to get sunlight, while parasitic vines wind around the taller trunks to get their nutrition. Adaptation is the name of the game here with ‘survival of the fittest’ being the mantra. Crowning heights of the canopy trees, bromeliads’ trick of holding rainwater, and thick mosses covering the tree roots are all examples of survival tricks.
Survival instincts flow into the fauna as well, with insects eating leaves, butterflies acting as pollinating agents, Army ants taking down larger prey as well as sweeping the ground clean from dead insects. There are traps everywhere, with spiderwebs catching an unsuspecting moth, Helicopter Damselflies attacking spiders, and arachnids eating plants by camouflaging.
It is also considered the bird watchers paradise, with more than 800 species of birds with their colorful feathers and interesting behavior making way to photographers and bird enthusiasts having a rewarding time. A keen eye and some patience will surely make encounters with a few of the 200 species of reptiles, amphibians, mammals, birds and insects possible. Below are some fauna we spotted in the wild across the hikes through the rainforest –
Amphibians – Mostly easy to spot and most are oblivious to humans. Blue-jeans/poison dart frog, red-eyed leaf frog, cane toad, glass frog
Birds and Butterflies – Butterflies are easy to spot but birds are not since they dwell mostly at the top of the treelines. Sometimes viewing from the hanging bridges give you a better look at them flying below your eye level. Even Toucans and Quetzals, having a deluge of colors, are hard to spot in the semi-darkness of the rainforest. Some species we spotted are – Monarch mariposa, Keel-billed Toucan, Bananaquit, Manakin, Owl-eyed mariposa, Cook, Blue morpho, Scarlet Macaw, SResplendent Quetzal, Motmot, Hummingbirds
Insects – These guys are pretty much everywhere, and mostly harmless unless touched. Many varieties exist but some examples of what we saw are – Golden Orb weaver, Beetle, Wolf spider
Mammals – Although harder to spot as these are elusive to humans, some examples of mammals we spotted are: Jaguar, Tapir, Howler Monkey, Bats, Squirrel Monkey, Spider Monkey, Two toed and three toed Sloth, Vampire Bats
Reptiles – Need to approach these with extremely careful footsteps lest they flee or hide or even bite you. Without a guide, casual tourists will easily pass by some of the dangerous snakes (e.g. vipers, boas, vine snake) because of their incredible camouflage. Some lizards and iguanas are easier to spot during the day as they bask in the sun to soak up energy. But in general it is better to stay at a distance to admire their beauty and habitat. Although home to many more species, we spotted a few on our rainforest journeys – Black Ctenosaur (Iguana), Spectacled Caiman, American Crocodile, Yellow pitviper, Eyelash Viper