Top Costa Rica Jungle & Mangrove Excursions

For a first time visitor, a view of the lowland forests of Costa Rica can be awe-inspiring. These complex biological communities contain dense foliage, massive trees, and more than half of all the living things known to man.

What exactly is a Jungle?

Costa Rica Jungle

A jungle may seem to be similar to a rainforest, but in actuality there’s a distinct difference. If you’re thinking of towering trees draped with vines, that would be a rainforest. The canopy of a rainforest blocks out light, resulting in fewer ground plants and thus rainforests are easier to travel through. A jungle, on the other hand, can exist on the fringes of a rainforest, but the thick undergrowth requires more light. Jungles will often be found where rainforest has been opened up through natural disturbances, like a fire or hurricane. The ground level growth can make getting through a jungle more than a bit difficult!

Top Costa Rica Jungle Tours & Estuary Excursions

Jungle tours in Costa Rica are difficult to come by, primarily because a jungle is difficult to get into! However, there are a number of options for a traveler interested in venturing as deep into the thicket as possible.

Costa Rica Jungle

Head into the Jungle on a Hike

Despite the thick undergrowth of a jungle, hiking tours are still a great way to get up close and personal with nature. Experienced naturalist guides and extensive trails are just what guests need to dive into adventure at one of Costa Rica’s many National Parks.

Discover the Waterways via Boat

Several of the eco-lodges we work with are accessible only via boat or flight. While this may seem like an extra stress, it’s actually an amazing opportunity to venture into the mangroves. Boat transportation to lodges along the Drake Bay introduces guests to the huge variety of ecosystems that can be found, and it’s an extra chance for wildlife watching. Bird-lovers in particular should check out some of the Drake Bay lodges – it’s one of the most popular areas of Costa Rica for bird-spotting. It’s one of the richest and most diverse tropical areas in the world.

One of our most popular adventures brings you to the winding Tarcoles River, which is home to some of the largest crocodiles in the world! Males can weight up to a ton and reach 20 feet in length! Available as an en route tour from Arenal to Manuel Antonio, this is a great opportunity to get (not too) close to these immense creatures while continuing on your exploration of Costa Rica.

Kayak Through the Jungle

By far a favorite for visitors to either the Tortugero National Park or the Sierpe-Terraba Mangrove Reserve, a jungle kayak adventure is the most amazing way to discover the untouched beauty of Costa Rica. Without a motor, travelers might get to spot some of the more elusive tropical creatures. An experienced naturalist guide will help you spot the camouflaged animals.

5 Best Costa Rica Jungle Tours

Peruse the Sierpe-Terraba Mangrove Reserve on the remote Osa Peninsula by boat or kayak through dense jungle estuaries.

If you’re looking for a truly amazing kayak experience, an excursion to Damas Island in Manuel Antonio or Cano Island, near the Osa Peninsula of the country, are unbeatable! Damas is the perfect example of the huge range of wildlife that can be found around Costa Rica. From crocodiles and sloths to monkeys and iguanas, the mangrove waterways are teaming with life! While Cano Island doesn’t feature quite such extensive land-animals, the waters of the area are home to whales, dolphins, manta rays, and sea turtles. Cano is always well-known for its archeological remains of early civilizations, such as the intriguing stone spheres, some over 6 feet in diameter. Excursions to Cano or Damas Island are also available by river cruise.

Discover Adventure at a Costa Rica Jungle Lodge

One of the best ways to explore all of the beauty of Costa Rica is a few nights stay at one of the country’s jungle lodges. They are located mostly in the rugged and remote Osa Peninsula – which also happens to contain one of the largest remaining tracks of tropical rainforest in Central America. This important forest is home to literally hundreds of species, many endangered, and is the perfect place for explorations into untouched jungles and rainforest. A second location for jungle adventures is Tortuguero. While primarily known for the sea turtles that come ashore to lay their eggs, Tortuguero’s intricate maze of mangrove waterways creates a completely unique cacophony of jungle undergrowth!  These maze-like waterways are the perfect paths for kayak or boat adventures.

Related: Osa Peninsula Jungle Lodges
Related: Tortuguero Jungle Lodges

Exploring Jungle Flora & Fauna

5 Best Costa Rica Jungle Tours

Queen Egret

Constant sunlight, abundant rains, and the high temperatures are a recipe for biological diversity under a canopy of peace and renewal. Naturalist guides are strongly recommended in order to spot the illusive wildlife and learn about the complicated relationships between the flora and fauna of the Costa Rica jungle.

Jungles are difficult to get through – even for the Costa Rica animals that live in them – but that doesn’t mean there’s no one hope! A trip down the mangrove canals will reveal a surprising number of wading birds (they can gather in flocks up to the thousands), curious iguanas and monkeys keeping watch from tree limbs, and the occasional tapir pushing through the undergrowth. Jungles across the country contain amazing amounts of biodiversity.

Costa Rica Jungle Cat

A Costa Rica jungle cat

Costa Rica has some of the most beautiful flora in the world thanks to the tropical climate. The lush green vegetation is punctuated with vibrantly-colored flowers that range from the miniature to the gigantic. Costa Rica’s flowers are a delightful backdrop to any vacation. The complex ecosystems of the country mean a wide variety of plants can thrive – it’s impossible to leave the country without at least one stunning nature photo!