Aug 202017

a. Season Matters When Traveling to Costa Rica: Living in Costa Rica I figured a way to enjoy traveling without spending too much but most importantly without having to spend my vacations among the crowds. And this is my conclusion: December to early April are the driest months and the peak of the tourist season, so you can expect higher prices, less rooms available and crowds. But late April, May, and October offer good weather with lower rates. Also between June and September and someties even November you will get good rates but not a very nice weather.

b. Costa Rican Water: Most people traveling around Central America are very concerned about how clean the water really is. And I have to admit was one of them until I found out that unlike most Latin American countries Costa Rica has a fairly safe water supply. Want some Proof?

Here is the fact that it is the only country of the region where Heineken allows its beer to be brewed. Salads are generally safe to eat because they usually use clean water to irrigate crops.

c. Money To Change or Not to Change! One of the most common questions travelers worry about is to change money before coming or not?

If you are going to change the money here are some recommendations:

1. Every country is different, but in Costa Rica don’t change money anywhere except BANKS and always bring a passport. Here is where you will get the best rates.

2. ATMs are plentiful, you’ll get the best rates however, you’ll pay the small ATM fee.

3. Very few places exchange travelers checks these days, and even fewer give good rates, plus they charge 1-2% on top of it.

Cash or Credit?

Cash is king in Costa Rica. Plus, whenever you go out, ask if for the cash (Efectivo) discount and chances are you ‘ll get 5-10% off. This can be done anywhere from tour operators, to hotels, to restaurants to pharmacies.

You’ll escape some places charging you 8% for credit card usages. Plus if you go to a local market, local currency goes much further than the dollar. You stand out less and feel more comfortable.

d. Waiting Is the Hardest Part That’s right, if you’re coming to Costa Rica be prepared to wait! In this country this is a norm. Nothing is on time in Costa Rica. Just doesn’t happen. Sorry to break it to you, but it’s so true. So come with lots of patience and besides, what’s the rush?

e. Bring plenty of Ziploc bags: Nothing stays dry there and since most people do rafting, swimming, waterfalls, or just crossing over streams, you’ll need bags to separate your wet stuff from your semi-dry. I recommend the “Big Bags” for clothes and shoes (bring at least two or three) and several quart-size bags. I tried to do laundry in the sink and air dry, but found it very difficult to dry most articles. I would also recommend bringing plenty of changes of clothes, especially if you’re an adventurous spirit.

f. Emergency Numbers: Luckily in Costa Rica the emergency number is 911. They speak English and are quite helpful. The problem though, is where are you? Costa Rica has one of the trickiest address and direction systems in Central America. So learn your address well!

Marina K. Villatoro, has lived in Central America – Costa Rica and Guatemala for over 10 years. She’s traveled these parts extensively and now loves to organize vacations to these amazing parts of the world. With her first hand experience, she can recommend the best options for you. Contact her for advice and to plan your perfect trip!

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Aug 232017

The tayra (Eira barbara), also known as the Tolomuco or Perico ligero in Central America, is an omnivorous animal from the weasel family Mustelidae. That is why tayras have an appearance similar to weasels and martens.

It is a long, slender very good climber with strong claws, resembling a thin-haired, very large mink with a long tail. This chocolate brown to black mustelid is related to the mink and the otter.

Tyras are pretty much small in height growing up to 60 cm. However, they have a tail of almost 45 cm long. Most of them have either dark brown or black fur with a lighter patch on its chest. The fur on its head changes to brown or gray as it ages.

These guys make the tropical forests of Central America its home. They make hollow trees, burrows in the ground, or nests of tall grass their home. They travel both alone and in groups during the day and the night. They eat mainly fruits but they also like carrion, small mammals, reptiles and birds.

They are also expert climbers, and can leap from treetop to treetop when pursued. They can also run fast and swim well.

They are intelligent animals and can become pets. Indigenous people, who often refer to this animal as “cabeza del viejo”, or old man’s head, due to their wrinkled facial skin, have kept them as household pets. Wild tayra populations are slowly shrinking, especially in Mexico, due to habitat destruction for agricultural purposes. Though the species as a whole is listed as a Least Concern species, the northernmost subspecies, Eira Barbara Senex, is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN.

Wild tayra populations are slowly shrinking, especially in Mexico, due to habitat destruction for agricultural purposes. Though the species as a whole is listed as a Least Concern species, the northernmost subspecies, Eira Barbara Senex, is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN.

Marina K. Villatoro, lives in Central America – Costa Rica and Guatemala for the past decade. She has traveled all over these areas with her family and now she loves to organize vacations to Costa Rica and Guatemala. Contact her for advice and to plan your perfect trip!
Aug 172017

Costa Rica is one of the most bio-diverse places in the world and there is no way that I can name every animal there is. So I decided to do a list of the most representative animals from Costa Rica’s Wildlife.

1. Magnificent Frigate Bird: The frigate birds are a family of seabirds and are also called frigate pelicans. It can be found breeding along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica.

2. Cattle Egret: They are commonly found around bodies of water. These are migratory birds known as a cosmopolitan specie of heron. In Costa Rica it is commonly found it Cocos Island.

3. Clay Colored Robins: The Clay-colored Robin is a small common Middle American bird known for “calling the rain”. Costa Ricans chose the clay-colored robin as a national symbol due to its strong and melodious song. It is also known as yigirro. It can be found all over in Costa Rica.

4. Boa Constrictors: The Boa constrictor is a large, heavy-bodied species of snake that strangles its prey instead of using venom. They are also ambush predators. It can be found in the Caribbean, Northern and Central Pacific regions of Costa Rica.

5. Deer: The White-Tailed Deer is a long-legged, fast-moving mammal and the smallest members of the North American deer family. White tailed deer are very commonly seen in North and Central America, in Costa Rica it can be found all over the country.

6. Squirrel Monkeys: Their full name is black crowned Central American squirrel Monkeys and can be found in the Costa Rican rainforests. Unlike the other New World monkeys, their tail is not used for climbing, but as a kind of “balancing pole” and as a tool.

7. Sloths: Sloths are extremely slow-moving mammals. Actually they are the world’s slowest mammal, so sedentary that algae grow on its furry coat. They can be found in the rain forest canopies of Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica.

8. Silky Anteaters: Silky anteaters are the smallest anteater species in the world. They have a total length ranging from 3.6 to 4.5 cm. The Silky Anteater is a slow moving animal and feeds mainly on ants, between 100 and 8000 a day. They can also be found in Costa Rica’s lowland rain forests.

9. Raccoons: Raccoons are medium-sized mammals that learned to live close to humans. And have a reputation of nocturne thieves. They are found throughout different landscapes of Costa Rica such as rainforests, cloud forests and beaches.

10. Kinkajous: They are also known as honey bear, because when in captivity they seem to enjoy eating honey. They can be seen in Drake Bay, Costa Rica. They are nocturnal animals and are rarely seen.

11. Coatis: Coatis are these long animals with a long snout. They look nothing like raccoons, yet they are family. They live in a wide variety of terrain, such as the lowland rainforests, river woodlands-Tortuguero, bushy and rocky terrain, though they are usually found in heavily forested areas of Costa Rica.

12. Agoutis: Agoutis are normally called Tepezcuintles in Central America. They are small rodents that look a bit alike a guinea pig. In Costa Rica they can be seen in Corcovado National Park and in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

13. Green Iguanas: These are herbivorous reptiles great tree jumpers and fantastic swimmers. They can be found all over Costa Rica.

14. Scarlet Macaws: These are tropical, colorful birds that can reach a meter long. The best places to find the Scarlet Macaw in Costa Rica is Carara National Park and the Osa Peninsula.

15. Jaguars: Besides Guatemala and Belize, Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica has one of the highest Jaguar populations in the world. The Jaguar is the 3rd largest feline after Tiger and Lion. They live mainly in dense forests.

16. Tayras: These animals are also known as Perico ligero in Central America. It is part of the weasel family and thrives in Corcovado National Park. They like to eat fruit, carrion, small mammals, reptiles and birds.

17. Biard’s Tapir: html One of the largest mammals to be found in Corcovado National Park, the Biard’s Tapir, was named after the American naturalist Spencer Fullerton Baird who traveled to Mexico in 1843 and observed the animals.

18. Crocodiles: American Crocodiles are considered to be one of the most perfect creatures in the world when it comes to hunting and surviving. Besides being the most biologically complex reptile. Another interesting thing is that they have the strongest immunity system of all creatures. They can be found in Jaco’s Tarcoles River, Costa Rica.

19. Collared Peccary: It is the only wild, native, pig-like animal that you will smell before you see it! They can be found in Corcovado National Park and Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica. They live near water systems with plenty of shade because they are unable to evaporate moisture through panting to prevent overheating.

20. Fer de Lance: This is the most deadliest snake in Costa Rica and Central America. Found mainly in the Rain Forests of Costa Rica, especially Corcovado National Park, it also thrives and isn’t shy in areas inhabited by people where large rat populations exist.

21. Humpback Whale: Humpbacks can be found in all the oceans of the world. However they choose to come to the tropical waters, off of Drake Bay and Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica, during winter for breeding and birthing baby whales.

22. Margay Wild Cat: At one point this beautiful little wildcat used to be found everywhere in Costa Rica. It was considered least-likely to be endangered, but unfortunately it isn’t immune to the human effect. Now a days you can find then in Corcovado National Park.

23. Pacific Spotted Dolphin: One of the most intelligent mammals of the water is on constant Welcome Committee Watch when you arrive to the southern coastal areas of Costa Rica – Drake Bay, Osa Peninsula, Corcovado National Park and the nearby beaches.

24. Howler Monkeys: Howler monkeys are the largest of all new world monkeys. They live in Central and South America. In Costa Rica, Corcovado National Park is the host of a lot of Howler Monkeys.

25. Sea Turtles: In the whole wide world there are only seven sea turtle species, four of them frequent Costa Rica and nest here. Out of these four all of them are on the highly critical endangered species list. They nest in Tortuguero National Park, Mario Ballena National Park and Ostional Wildlife Refuge.

Marina K. Villatoro, lives in Central America – Costa Rica and Guatemala for the past decade. She has traveled all over these areas with her family and now she loves to organize vacations to Costa Rica and Guatemala. Contact her for advice and to plan your perfect trip!