Orange-billed nightingale-thrush in La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Costa Rica’s Best Wildlife Watching Spots

National parks, wildlife refuges, and biological reserves are found throughout the country. They range from swampy wetlands to dry-forest environments and from lowland rainforests to high-mountain cloud forests. Sign up for guided natural-history excursions or hire a local naturalist guide. You’ll see many times more critters in the company of an eagle-eyed guide.

The colorful town of Jardín in southern Antioquia. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Things to See and Do in Jardín, Colombia

While the main selling points of Jardín are its good looks, nearby tropical forests and cloud forests–home to natural attractions such as the Caverna El Esplendor and the ProAves bird-watching reserve–provide good excuses for lacing up those hiking boots.

The jagged Cerro Tatamá (4,250 meters/13,945 feet) is the highest point in the Cordillera Occidental.

Visit Parque Municipal Natural Planes de San Rafael

Located in the remote, little visited Cordillera Occidental (Western Mountains), the Tatamá Massif contains one of the world’s few remaining pristine páramos (highland moors). Access to Tatamá is through the Parque Municipal Natural Planes de San Rafael, a cloud forest where the main activities are nature hikes conducted by friendly and knowledgeable guides.

View from the lookout tower at the Reserva Natural Palmari. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Nature Reserves on the Río Yavarí

The Río Yavarí is in an unspoiled, isolated part of the Amazon basin and is home to two excellent private natural reserves where you will be immersed in the jungle through all manner of activities. Spend at least three days or up to a week at one of the Yavarí nature reserves (they are both excellent) to gain a real appreciation for jungle life.

Peaceful and cool Minca is a nice break from the beach. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Discover Minca, Colombia

If you’ve had your fill of beaches or the seductive Caribbean cities, maybe it’s time for an altitude adjustment. The blissful routine of life in Minca–mountain hikes, dips in invigorating swimming holes, and sunset ogling–may make you want to linger here.

A koala clings to a branch.

Zoos and Animal Sanctuaries in Kuranda, Australia

If you’re a fan of things that creep and crawl, fly and flutter, you’ll find your fill in Kuranda’s zoos. Children especially enjoy these attractions, though there’s certainly enough to keep adults entertained with the sheer variety of species and the chance to sight wildlife up-close and personal without a trip into the bush.

Two swans with black necks and bright red beaks swim through the water.

Visit Parque Nacional Laguna Blanca in Argentina

Designated a major international wetland under the Ramsar convention, Parque Nacional Laguna Blanca has a large breeding population of striking black-necked swans. It’s also the place to spot coots, ducks, grebes, gulls, upland geese, and the occasional flamingo.

A Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) puffs its feathers on this cold and snowy day in April.

GNP Flora and Fauna: North Fork’s Unique Creatures

Glacier National Park hosts a plethora of plants and animals; lots of usual suspects, such as bears, wolves, elk, and bighorn sheep, but also quite a few unique species. Most interesting among them are species of the North Fork, including incredibly tiny animals, some weighing even less than an ounce, and creative carnivorous plants. And with North Fork’s plentiful and varied bird species, birders will have a ball.