15 Unusual Animals You’ll See on a Canal Tour in Tortuguero, Costa Rica

Our guide for the canal tour in Tortuguero was amazing. There’s no way I would’ve spotted all these creatures if it wasn’t for his eagle eye, especially the lizards. Even when I look at the photos below I find them hard to pick out. I keep looking at the pictures and wondering why I’ve taken photos of plants, and then seeing a cheeky lizard hiding in the corner.

canal tour in costa rica

I saw all these creatures on a two-hour canal tour departing from the Pachira Lodge in Tortuguero. As well as seeing all the wildlife and fauna, it was also a lovely and relaxing trip just cruising up the canal.

We got pretty close to the animals on the canal tour, as you’ll see, and our driver pulled up nice and tight so we could get the best photos. Unfortunately there weren’t any sloths on this day, but we had seen two on the way in to the Pachira Lodge the day before. Mustn’t be greedy. Sloths need time out too.

READ MORE: What is Costa Rica Really Like?


*I’ve tried, I really have, but I just can’t work out what the birds at numbers at 2, 3, 10, 11, 14 and 15 are. Google searches don’t work, I’ve looked them up on Wikipedia – and now I’m thinking I’ve discovered a few new species. If you know what they are, let me know. Otherwise just enjoy the pics :). 

15 Unusual Animals You’ll See on a Canal Tour in Tortuguero, Costa Rica

1. A woodpecker

Woodpecker in Costa Rica

2. A puffed up bird*canal tour in costa rica

3. Wants-a-hug bird*

Costa Rica birds

4. 110 of the 1,100 bat species are in Costa Rica!

costa rica canal tour

5. Spot the Basilisk lizard

Costa Rica Canal tour

6. Howler Monkeys (THEY’RE SO LOUD)

Canal Tour Costa Rica

7. Unimpressed white-faced capuchin monkey guy

Canal tour costa rica

8. Another huge lizard

Canal tour costa rica

9. Green Iguana dragon

costa rica canal tour

10. The original angry bird

costa rica canal tour

Check out my video of the trip, from 3:58

Watch all my Costa Rica vlogs here!

11. Pretty birdCanal Tour in Costa Rica

12. Wooopahh! It’s a spectacled caiman!Canal tour in Costa Rica

13. Big foot bird*

costa rica canal tour

14. Yellow forehead bird*

costa rica canal tour

The Canal Tour in Costa Rica

The canal tour in Costa Rica was amazing. When I think back I can’t believe how many birds and creatures we saw in such a short space of time. It was so peaceful drifting along the canal and just hearing the birds calling to each other. As soon as the howler monkeys started the peace was pierced, but all creatures add to the atmosphere of the canal banks.

costa rica canal tour

If you carry on and explore the rest of Costa Rica by Canal, beyond Tortuguero, you could see sloths, toucans, turtles, ocelots, pacas, tapirs, anteaters, and many, many other animals. It’s one of the best places in the world, to see all these animals!

costa rica canal tour

Where to stay

If you’d like to do a canal tour in Tortuguero, I’d definitely recommend staying at the Pachira Lodge in Tortuguero. I stayed in a chalet style room, loved the swimming pool, enjoyed a massage, and made the most of the buffet breakfasts and dinner. It’s also a great place to stay if you want to see the turtles late at night and early in the morning. Definitely one of the most incredible sights I’ve ever seen.

Costa Rica Canal

Costa Rica Canal Tour

I was invited to Costa Rica by the Costa Rica Tourism Board in return for my thoughts.

You can see all the action in my daily Costa Rica vlogs here…

Canal tour animals to see

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  1. by Chadwick on August 23, 2017  9:09 am Reply

    No. 14 looks like a Northern Jacana.

    • by Vicky on August 29, 2017  9:23 pm Reply

      Ooo I think you're right. Thanks!

  2. by Chadwick on August 30, 2017  8:12 am Reply

    You've set me a challenge now...

    No. 10, I think is a Bare-Throated Tiger Heron.

    • by Vicky on September 2, 2017  12:52 pm Reply

      Ha, amazing! Thank you Chadwick! I'm intrigued as to how you worked that out? I was Google image searching for ages and didn't get anywhere. How did you do it?!

      I think they're all correct. I'm trying to get the Costa Rica tourist board to confirm :)

  3. by Chadwick on August 30, 2017  8:21 am Reply

    No. 2 is a Yellow-Crowned Night Heron

    It has a thin yellow plume on the back of its head, which you can't see in your picture. (It looks like it's got a right grump on.)

  4. by Chadwick on August 30, 2017  8:24 am Reply

    Is no. 13 a Green Ibis?

  5. by Rachel on November 3, 2017  6:09 pm Reply

    What an amazing and beautiful range of animals to be seen! Great pics which capture them beautifully in their natural habitat. I'd love to visit somewhere like here one day - would beat seeing cows and sheep!

    • by VickyFlipFlop on November 8, 2017  9:40 am Reply

      Oh it was sooo good. Can't believe we saw the sloths so quickly. I didn't actually expect that we'd even see them at all, so that was great. I hope you get to Costa Rica one day, it was somewhere I'd always wanted to visit.

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  9. by Ioana Stoica on November 14, 2019  11:20 pm Reply

    Wow, so many cool species!! I am going to Costa Rica in January and I'm looking forward to doing this tour. Thank you so much

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