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What to Expect from a Night Walk in Costa Rica

While Costa Rica is well known as a wildlife paradise, and night walks are especially popular for this reason (because most animals are active at night), the truth is that these walks are not just about animals (though that’s certainly the most exciting reason to take part in one)…

All around the country (especially in touristic areas like Monteverde and Arenal), night walks with a local expert or nature tour guide will be among the top tourist attractions, but what are these walks all about?

Night Walks (a.k.a. Night Hikes or Night Tours) are held in farms, forests and proteced areas where you will join a group led by a local naturalist tour guide to explore the area in search for animals, and while everyone hopes to see lots of those animals, the reality is that the forest (or farm) is not a zoo. It is true that most animals in the country are active during the night, but expecting to see a whole bunch of them could end up as a big dissapointment for many.

The truth is that in most of these tours, you will probably see a combination of Mammals (like Armadillos, Raccons, Agoutis, Monkeys…), Insects (like Walking Sticks and Tarantulas…), Sleeping Birds (like Motmots and Toucans), and depending on the region and the weather even some Frogs and Snakes.

Some nights you will see very few animals (remember is not a zoo, it’s nature) and other nights, you will see a lot of them. And while there is no way to guarantee what you will see, in most cases, you will probably spot 1-3 animals of each of those families.

Expecting to see more than this is the perfect recipe for disappointment.

A night walk is a great way to experience what it’s like to be out there in the wilderness at night, surrounded by nature. It’s the exploration feeling, it’s the thrill, it’s the suspense, the darkness and the encounter with nocturnal creatures in their habitat -which is something most people would not be able to do alone.

Therefore, my recommendation when signing up for a night walk, is to avoid expecting to see specific animals during the tour (I know, everyone wants to see the Sloth, the Tarantula, and the Viper Snake, but it’s nature, so we never know if they will indeed be present in there on a given night).

Instead of doing this, my recommendation is to just focus on the overall experience, be present in the moment, enjoy the hike, learn from your tour guide about the area you’re visiting and try to actually help him find wildlife (it’s more fun when you are actively participating, rather than simply waiting for him to spot it).

Instead of expecting to see a lot of animals, simply expect to experience the forest at night. Use the opportunity to connect with nature in a pretty unusual way. Something we all need a lot more of!

Have this expectation and you will most likely have a great time out there!

Amazing Orange-Kneed Tarantula in its Natural Habitat, spotted at El Bosque.

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