The rainforests of Costa Rica boast 208 species of mammals, 870 kinds of birds, 1,250 kinds of butterflies and 8,000 different moths, 160 species of amphibians, 220 species of reptiles, and 34,000 types of insects. In short, you’re guaranteed to spot something pretty amazing here – no matter how brief your visit might be. Having recently explored this incredible environment with the Princess Cruises team I’d love to pass on a few nuggets of wisdom for anyone who might be planning on or even dreaming about a similar experience some day soon. With a bit of luck, a few of the lessons I learned while sloth-spotting will help ensure a wonderful trip . . .
The Rainforest: 9 Things You’ll Need – Or At Least Wish You Had
A Camera; the higher the quality, the better. Why? Because I’m guessing you don’t want to return home with 100+ blurry pictures of a tree when you’d actually hoped to capture just one image of that adorable baby sloth you saw. Remember, this isn’t a zoo, most animals are going to be much further away than you’d imagined and they’re likely going to move much faster than you thought too. Speaking of which, you may want to shoot rapid fire. In other words, your iPhone probably won’t cut it this time around.
Moves Like Jagger; believe it or not, marching through the rainforest while dissecting the latest episode of The Bachelor with your girls (totally not something I’d do – *awkwardly adjusts sweater*) isn’t the best way to go about spotting wildlife. Really want to make the most of your experience? STFU and be smooth.
A Local Guide; many of the local guides are trained naturalists or biologists boasting an unfathomable amount of knowledge. Extremely passionate about sharing and preserving this incredible environment, they generally can’t wait to tell tourists their stories and really help us to learn more about their world. I’m not sure I would have considered exploring Costa Rica with a guide – nevermind a local guide. I often wonder if I should be just a little more independent when cruising but experiences and memories like these really assure me that traveling with Princess and booking excursions through their team is the right decision for me.
Pants; given the climate you’ll more than likely reach for a pair of shorts when setting out to explore the rainforest. Since our time in Costa Rica was limited, I didn’t come up against too many problems but long, lightweight pants will much better protect against scratches, insects and muddy splashes.
Comfortable Walking Shoes; it’s not every day you find yourself wandering through the rainforests of Costa Rica, don’t let anything hinder or take away from your experience
A Rainjacket; these come in pretty many in the rainforest. Also useful? A poncho. In fact, some recommend packing these before packing the rain jacket since there’s typically enough material to cover you and your bag which might just contain your camera – eek!
An Early Wake Up Call; honestly, this was another thing I hadn’t been thinking about at all (luckily the team at Princess had my back) but an early start is essential. Firstly, most activity in nature peaks at dawn and dusk. Secondly, that sweltering hot, tropical sun is not something you want to experience come mid-day.
Patience; because this isn’t a zoo. Take the time to simply stroll along a trail and admire your surroundings – again, this isn’t an everyday experience and those who slow down are often surprised by what they find.
A Great Pair Of Binoculars; I never really saw myself having a need for binoculars before but hey, life can surprise you sometimes. If spotting exotic wildlife in it’s natural habitat is something you’d like to make a part of your rainforest sojourn (and I ask that with the slightest hint of sarcasm) then trust me when I tell you just how happy you’ll be to have these on hand. Want to save yourself a few bucks and possibly bond with your father-in-law along the way? Ask if you can borrow his.