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For such a small country, Costa Rica is incredibly rich in biodiversity. With just .01% of the earth's landmass, the country is home to some 5% of its biodiversity. Whether you come to Costa Rica to check 100 or more species off your lifetime list, or just to check out of the rat race for a week or so, you'll be surrounded by a rich and varied collection of flora and fauna.

In many instances, the prime viewing recommendations should be understood within the reality of actual wildlife viewing. Most casual visitors and even many dedicated naturalists will never see a wild cat or kinkajou. However, anyone working with a good guide should be able to see a broad selection of Costa Rica's impressive flora and fauna. The information here is meant to be a selective introduction to some of what you might see.

Scores of good field guides are available; two of the best general guides are The Field Guide to the Wildlife of Costa Rica, by Carrol Henderson, and Costa Rica: Traveller's Wildlife Guides, by Les Beletsky. Bird-watchers will want to pick up one or both of the following two books: A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica, by F. Gary Stiles and Alexander Skutch and Birds of Costa Rica, by Richard Garrigues and Robert Dean. Other specialized guides to mammals, reptiles, insects, flora, and more are also available. Other specialized guides to mammals, reptiles, insects, flora, and more can be found at Zona Tropical (www.zonatropical.net), which is a Costa Rican–based publishing house that specializes in field guides and wildlife books.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.