A nature night tour in Costa Rica is an absolute must do. I’ve done two night tours in different spots around the country and they were both different and wonderful in their own way. You never know what you will come across.
In this post, I’ll tell you about the La Fortuna night tour and the Monteverde night tour. I will also discuss why you should do a night tour in Costa Rica, what you should bring on a night tour, and what the costs are.
Why do a night tour in Costa Rica?
One of the advantages of a night tour is that most of the animals in Costa Rica are active at night. This gives you the opportunity to find and see animals that cannot be seen active during the day.
While doing a night tour, keep in mind that you are in nature and not in a zoo. You definitely are going to see some animals, but this differs each night.
Arenal Oasis Night Tour – La Fortuna Night Tour
I took the first night tour in a small wildlife refuge (Arenal Oasis) in La Fortuna. Arenal Oasis is located close to the Arenal Volcano and the center of La Fortuna. With varied habitats including rainforest, gardens, and some ponds, Arenal Oasis is the perfect spot to see many species living together in one place. The ponds attract around 28 frog species and you can find other creatures like snakes, birds, spiders and small mammals.
The tour started with the pick up at our hotel around 18.00 hours. In 15 minutes we drove to Arenal Oasis and at the reception we got some water, a flashlight and instructions from the guide. I was excited! I would never explore the rainforest on my own in the dark and couldn’t wait to see what we would find.
My group consisted of 6 people and a guide, which was good, but you sometimes couldn’t hear the guide very well if you were near the back. The tour was a little over 2 hours and the walk was easy. The trails at Arenal Oasis were very flat. However, they are narrow at times, and you do brush up against sticks and leaves occasionally. I would recommend bug repellent and bringing your own strong flashlight. The lights they provided were adequate, but others personal lights were so much better.
As our guide led us through the forest, it wasn’t long before we started seeing some critters. We first saw a cool giant grasshopper, a walking stick, and a spider. The guide talked to our group not only about the animals, but also about the types of plants.
When we arrived at the pond, the sound of frogs chirping got louder and we spotted many different frog species. We saw red-eyed frogs, tree frogs, bullfrogs, and a common rain frog. I was able to get some nice pictures of the frogs with my phone.
Turning around, our guide spotted a small snake, crab and turtle. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take a photo of the snake, because it was too far away.
During the tour we always walked carefully and observed in detail each part of the forest since the animals are camouflage experts. In my experience the guide was very knowledgeable and took time to answer all my questions. He also helped with taking photos which was really nice.
Refugio Night Walk – Monteverde Night Tour
In Monteverde you can choose between 7 locations to do a night tour. We chose the Refugio Night Walk at the Wildlife Refuge Monteverde. This night tour takes place at a wildlife refuge located approximately 25 minutes away from Monteverde. The site has a privileged location in the middle of a biological corridor, which is great for seeing animals. You can spot up to five species of mammals, a couple of snakes, a few bird species, and a handful of insects. We chose Refugio because they offer tours in small groups and on private property. On Google Refugio gets the highest score of all night tours in Monteverde. Great!
At the reception of Refugio we got a flashlight and some instructions from our guide. It’s just the two of us, so we got a private tour. Nice! The tour took about 2 hours and we learned a lot about the different species living in this area. Pablo, our guide, also taught us about trees, plants, and forest ecosystems. He brought a telescope and this really helped us to make some good observations and photos.
The flora and fauna is different in the Monteverde region than in the La Fortuna region. Whereas in La Fortuna we had seen mostly frogs and insects, during this tour we came across sleeping birds, snakes and howler monkeys. Frequently observed animals in Monteverde are snakes, tarantulas, frogs, insects, Kinkajous and other mammals such as Sloths, Olingos and Monkeys.
At the start of the tour we saw a Side-striped palm-pit viper and a few minutes later an Eyelash palm-pit viper (two snakes).
When we looked up, we also spotted a sleeping Emerald Toucanet! So cute, it looked like a big fuzzball. Later we also saw a sleeping Keel-billed Toucan, a hummingbird nest and a few more sleeping birds.
Turning around we saw streams of ants carrying bright green pieces of leaves across the forest floor. It looked like a grand parade. I was happy for my flashlight so I could make sure I wasn’t standing in their way.
We also saw some fireflies and a sleeping howler monkey.
Difference between a night tour in La Fortuna and Monteverde
While the trails in La Fortuna were mainly flat, in Monteverde the trails were rocky and included many stairs. The nightlife is also different. Whereas in La Fortuna you can see mostly frogs and insects (search on the ground), in Monteverde you will come across sleeping birds, snakes and howler monkeys (search in the trees).
What to bring for a La Fortuna night tour or a Monteverde night?
- Closed shoes
- Long pants
- Comfortable light clothing
- Bug repellent
- Good flashlight
Tips for going on a night tour in Costa Rica
- It’s about a 2-3 hour walk, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes
- Wear closed toed shoes and long pants
- Wear a (rain)jacket. It rains often in Monteverde and it becomes windy quickly
- Use bug repellent
- Bring your own flashlight, because the ones provided are not the strongest
- Always follow your guide’s instructions
- Don’t walk off the trail or touch the trees or bushes. You never know what could be hiding in there!
- Do not use flash on your camera
Costs of La Fortuna night tour or Monteverde night tour
The cost of a night tour in Costa Rica is approximately between $25 – $35 per person. This always includes roundtrip transportation, a bilingual guide and a flashlight.
The night tour is really a fun way to get a different perspective of the rainforest and to learn more about forest life after dark. We did see some of Costa Rica’s most beautiful frogs and insects. When walking the trails, it was an amazing feeling to experience how alive the jungle becomes at night. For nature lovers and animal lovers, a night tour is a must do experience in Costa Rica.
Are you up for a night tour or do you have an experience to share? Leave a comment below.