While moving to Costa Rica may be a dream come true, some aspects of the process can be unexpectedly daunting. You may be thinking, how am I going to get my dog or cat all the way to Costa Rica? The process is actually quite simple when broken down.
The first step to bringing your pet to Costa Rica is completing the correct documentation and vaccinations. This includes:
- Up-to-date vaccinations against rabies and leptospirosis certified by your veterinarian.
- An health examination and signed Federal APHIS Form 7001 by a USDA accredited veterinarian. Fees for this step can range anywhere from $40- $120 per pet. *Note that this certificate is only valid for 10 days once completed.
- If you have decided to transport your pet by cargo (on a flight different than your own) you will need a special permit.
The next step is to find an airline. American Airlines, United, and Delta all transport animals from the US to Costa Rica. Make sure to check the specific pricing and guidelines for each airline before booking.
An alternative option, known as pet movers, is available for those who want to effortlessly transport their pets. For a price, these companies will prepare your certificates, pick up your pet, pay airline cargo charges, deal with customs, and drop them off at your new home.
Don’t have a furry friend to bring along? Consider adopting one locally! Costa Rica is notorious its beach and street dogs. Its typical to go to the beach for the day only to have a new friend follow you home. Before just adopting the dog as your own, be sure to ask around the neighborhood, as many dogs with homes roam around freely. Haven’t found any dogs in your neighborhood or just looking to visit a puppy paradise? Check out Territorio de Zaguates (Land of the Strays) in Alajuela. This dog sanctuary is home to over 900 animals so you are sure to find the perfect one, unlike any other.
The beginning of September marks the annual Whale Watching Festival in Uvita beach within Ballena National Park in Costa Rica. Uvita is a quaint fishing village in Costa Rica’s southern zone. This year marks the 7th annual festival celebrating the peak migration time of the humpback whales. The event takes place over two weekends on September 4th and 5th, and then again on September 12th and 13th. Last year 40,000 visitors flocked to the park to watch the whales and more are expected this year.
Ballena National Marine Park is a favorite whale watching spot. Covering 110 hectares of land and 5375 hectares of the ocean the reserve protects wildlife and the native habitats. The park acts as a sanctuary for whales to breed and give birth. Every year, the magnificent humpback whales arrive from July through October after making the 8,000-kilometer journey across the southern hemisphere. The whales swim north from the Antarctica to the warm waters of Golfo Dulce in Costa Rica. The warmer waters close to the equator provide that optimal habitat to mate and breed. September marks the peak of the migration along the coast of Costa Rica.
In addition to the two-hour whale watching tour, the festival offers activities such as cycling, beach volleyball, hiking, and dolphin watching. Both bottle-nose dolphins and spinner dolphins can be spotted here. There is also the opportunity to watch the legendary sea turtles including olive ridleys, green turtles, and hawksbill who travel to the beaches of Ballena to lay their eggs. The largest numbers of sea turtles make their way to shore to lay their eggs during the waning moon in September. The beaches of Ballena are not as closely monitored as some of the other more well-known beaches. The park asks visitors to be respectful if they venture out at night to catch a glimpse of this wonder of nature as the sea turtles make their way to shore.
Costa Rica is committed to protecting the biodiversity of its many species including many on the endangered species list. Due to strong international cooperation and conservation efforts, the humpback whales where recently removed from the endangered species list. More conservation efforts are needed to protect both endangered and critically endangered species. Festivals such as these aim to increase public awareness for the need for conservation and efforts to protect wildlife. Costa Rica and parks such as Ballena have also been instrumental in protecting sea turtles as well as other species.
The festival is a fantastic time to visit this preserve. Adventurers, families and wildlife enthusiasts can appreciate the laid-back, relaxed environment and rich biodiversity. With activities for adults and children to enjoy, it’s a fun family-friendly event that also provides a great opportunity for children to learn about nature, wildlife, habitats, and conservation. This weekend will be last chance to enjoy one of the spectacular two-hour boat tours to spot the majestic creatures. Tours start at 7 am.