One of the major highlights for most travelers to Costa Rica is the rich biodiversity seen in a number of different ecosystems. Over 200 mammals, 850 species of birds and 200 types of amphibians and reptiles each slither, crawl, fly and swim around this tiny Central American country.
National Parks make up over one fourth of Costa Rica and provide an excellent outlet for ecologically-friendly travel. Management groups protect the flora and fauna in Costa Rica along with historical and archaeological monuments and scenic spots like waterfalls, beaches and lush valleys. The profits from tourism are managed by the Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT) and directly contribute to conservation efforts. Twenty national parks, eight biological reserves, 27 protected areas, and nine forest reserves and wildlife refuges each consist of the area that the National Parks Service manages, totalling over 1,154,945 hectares (25 percent of the total area of the country). This is a larger portion of protected area than any other country on Earth.
Eco-tourism has long florished in Costa Rica, and many of the activities are structured around appreciating this nature-lovers paradise without negatively impacting the fragile environment. Costa Rica is a favorite destination for both novice nature-lovers and professional biologists and scientists. Activities in protected areas include hiking, rafting, bird watching, camping and enjoying the surroundings.
If you come to Costa Rica to bird watch, go to Braulio Carrillo National Park, Monteverde, Talamanca or the Osa Peninsula. To catch a glimpse of baby sea turtles scrambling their way from their sandy nests to the ocean, look for guided tours that focus on this very activity on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts. Other tours can be taken to see hummingbirds, sloths, buttlerflies, lizards and more.