Southern Costa Rica: “Between quetzales and whales”

Douglas Marin

Osa (Costa Rica), Sep 4 (EFE).- From giant humpback whales to small birds and amphibians, southern Costa Rica is home to a rich biodiversity that its inhabitants strive to protect and are proud to show to the thousands of tourists who visit each year.

The Osa Canton, in the province of Puntarenas, is home to the Marino Ballena National Park Humpback Whale Watching Sanctuary. Here, authorities allow tours under strict rules to ensure the preservation of the ecosystem and the well-being of the whales.

Whale watching is an important part of the economy in southern Costa Rica, especially in Bahía Ballena, where tour operators follow a series of requirements to protect the whales that use Costa Rica’s coasts for their breeding rituals and to avoid impacting their habitat.

“They come from the polar regions to mate and give birth,” local guide Dylan Monge explained EFE.

“The whales come to Costa Rican waters because they are shallow. They have the ideal temperature and a line of rocks that protect them from predators.”, he added.

They stay on the Pacific coast of southern Costa Rica from July to October.

Lucky tourists can see them jumping, showing their tails, or simply coming out to breathe with their young from time to time.

Humpback whales are between 14 and 16 meters long and weigh more than 40 tons. Their average life span is 60 to 80 years.


In the south of Costa Rica is also the Sierpe wetland, one of the largest in Central America.

It is another one of the region’s natural attractions for the beauty of its channels and lagoons, and for its biodiversity, especially crocodiles and water birds.

San Vito, near Sierpe, is one of 12 points on the National Bird Watching Route, a guide that includes national parks, private reserves and surrounding communities, showing tourists and scientists ideal birdwatching spots.

Here you can see toucans, hawks and 53 species of hummingbirds, some of which are endemic to Costa Rica.

Costa Rica is considered one of the most important birding destinations in the world.

More than 900 species of birds inhabit its 51,100 square kilometers of land surface, representing 9% of the total birds known in the world.

According to the Costa Rican Tourism Institute, as of 2019, 924 species of birds have been identified in Costa Rica, of which 7 are endemic and 220 are migratory.

Costa Rica’s “National Bird Watching Route” covers 4 main areas: the dry tropical forest, the highlands, the humid tropical forest of the Caribbean and the humid tropical forest of the South Pacific.

The governments of the southern provinces, local entrepreneurs, tourism professionals and local chambers of tourism and commerce have come together to promote the region, launching a campaign called “Between quetzales and whales,” a reference to the brightly colored birds and aquatic mammals that are two of the region’s emblematic species.

“The South has everything. We want to show the world that they can enjoy the whales, the sun, the quetzales, the clouds, as well as the essence of its people and traditions,” said the president of the Osa Chamber of Tourism, Luis Centeno. EFE

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