Parque Nacional Cahuita, small but perfectly formed

It is probably one of the smallest national parks I’ve ever visited but it has a level of biodiversity that would make many larger parks weep…and Parque Nacional Cahuita is only a short stroll from Cahuita village making it one of the most accessible.

Capuchin monkey, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Capuchin monkey, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Capuchin monkey, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Capuchin monkey, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica

The park is divided between the ocean, which contains one of costa Rica’s few remaining living reefs, and tropical forest lined with white sand beaches, which hosts a wide variety of birds, reptiles, insects, crustaceans and mammals. Thanks to a high and rough tide we didn’t go snorkelling on the reef, but we hired a local guide and spent four leisurely hours walking the well-marked trails in the park.

Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Crocodile, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Crocodile, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Bird, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Bird, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Iguana, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Iguana, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Iguana, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Iguanas, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Bird, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Bird, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Bird, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Great Kiskadee, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Bird, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Acorn Woodpeker, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica

I have never been so grateful to have a guide; within thirty minutes of entering the park we’d seen more biodiversity than we’d seen since being in the Amazon several months earlier: monkeys, sloths, agouti, snakes, crocodiles, birds and iguanas all made it onto our ‘spotted’ list. It costs US$20 for a guide, yet we met several people without guides who hadn’t seen a single animal.

Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Flower, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Flower, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Howler Monkey, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Howler Monkey, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Crab, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Crab, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Sloth, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Sloth, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Sloth, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Sloth, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica

Perhaps the highlight of the visit, if it can be described as that, was spotting the small but deadly snake, the Yellow Eyelash Viper – if you get bitten you have 2 – 3 hours to get to medical assistance before death. We would never have spotted this colourful and deadly bundle of fun, which is all the more reason never to go into the jungle without a guide, but once spotted it is hard to look away.

Yellow Eyelash Viper, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Yellow Eyelash Viper, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Yellow Eyelash Viper, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Yellow Eyelash Viper, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica

The park is also packed full of plants and insects. I saw a very pleased looking squirrel munching on a fresh almond plucked right off the tree. There are literally millions of leaf-cutter ants and, my old friends, mosquitoes. It was a brilliant experience, the park is free to enter (donations welcome) and you can use the beach and swim in the ocean after you’ve finished looking for wildlife.

Agouti, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Agouti, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Flower, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Flower, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Leaf-cutter ants, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Leaf-cutter ants, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Leaf-cutter ants, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica
Leaf-cutter ants, Parque Nacional Cahuita, Costa Rica

7 thoughts on “Parque Nacional Cahuita, small but perfectly formed

  1. Wow! This is awesome! What amazing animals. I especially liked the agouti and the sloth and the monkeys! So cute! If I ever get to go there, I will definitely get a guide. 😉

    1. It was the best $20 I’ve spent, it was amazing what he could spot that I’d have never seen if I’d stood there all day! The sloths are my favourite, and they can move pretty quickly when they want.

      1. Have you read “Life of Pi”? I was fascinated by the descriptions of sloths in the beginning. I would love to see them in person. 🙂

        1. I haven’t read it yet. Watched the film a few weeks back and it was beautiful so must read the book as well. As for sloths, they’re strange and odd looking, but really amazing.

  2. Loved it! Thanks for the photos! And yes, very cool snake.

  3. Reblogged this on Oyia Brown.

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