The one thing you will want to catch sight of is the elusive jaguar (on the other hand of course, the last thing you’ll probably want to meet is the elusive jaguar!). Few in number and rarely spotted nowadays, its best to forget about it and enjoy everything else on offer. You will see (and hear!) lots of howler monkeys, opossums, kinkajou, agouti, squirrels and maybe an armadillo or two. Reptiles include crocodiles, iguanas and lizards.
(Opossum hiding in the trees)
(Baby crocodile spotted during a night trip)
The squeamish need not be concerned, on our recent trip (April) we actually saw very few ‘minibeasts’ without the help of a guide – a few tarantulas yes but only in their nests. There were no mosquitoes at either jungle or coast. There was nothing untoward at any of our lodgings – we could sit outside and dine outside, in comfort, everywhere we went. (Of course this may vary from season to season). Apart from tarantulas, you will see grasshoppers, stick insects, leaf cutter ants, etc.
(Leaf cutter ants heading home)
(Termites use mud tubes to access their nests high in the trees – thus not damaging the host tree)
In the sea, you can enjoy tropical fish, corals, turtles, manatees and nurse sharks.
(A diving and snorkeling paradise)
Above all else, this is heaven for bird lovers but you don’t have to be an expert to appreciate the spectacle . Some you will easily recognise – pelicans at the coast, vultures hovering around in groups, and of course parrots, hummingbirds and toucans. Others in the jungle and along river banks, you will enjoy for their colour and song.
Flora, as expected, is lush, exotic and colourful. Once again, while there is plenty to just look at and enjoy, guides are great at pointing out the symbiotic relationships and the parasites among the plants. They will also explain the medicinal and commercial uses still in practice.
(The Gumbo Limbo tree – referred to locally as the ‘tourist tree’ because its bark is red and peeling!)
Citrus fruits are grown commercially but there are coconuts everywhere. At the end of April, avocados were just being to appear on trees and sour sap fruit was a new one for us.