CORCOVADO NATIONAL PARK: Discover Costa Rica’s Real Life Jurassic World

WHAT: Visit Corcovado National Park

Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula. A protected area of virgin rainforest where the terrain and its inhabitants are the stuff of Jurassic legend. In the early 1990s, Costa Rica emerged as the planets leading ecotourism destination. Since then, Corcovado National Park has established itself as the jewel in Costa Rica’s ecotourism crown. Although Corcovado National Park activities include surfing, diving, relaxing, and simply soaking up the beauty, it’s the hikes through the pristine, untamed jungle that truly make it famous. Nowadays, a visit to the Corcovado National Park trails has become a must-do for wildlife and nature lovers worldwide.

A sloth in Corcovado National Park
The Sloth: Costa Rica’s National Spirit Animal. Photo Credit: Pixabay

Despite making up just 0.3 percent of Earth’s landmass, Costa Rica is home to five percent of all species on the planet. And most of these stunners hang out in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica. For example, Corcovado’s residents include countless monkey species, margays, ocelots, pumas, jaguarundis, and the elusive Jaguar. There are two and three-toed sloths, peccaries, anteaters, tarantulas, iguanas, snakes. It’s home to hundreds of frog species, including poison dart frogs. Meanwhile, scarlet macaws and Harpy eagles fly overhead, as rare as they are enormous. In the rivers and ocean, tributaries lurk crocodiles and Bull Sharks. Just offshore, whales, dolphins, and countless other marine creatures hang out along the palm-fringed coastline.

 

An Ocelot Patroling The Jungle of Corcovado National Park.
An Ocelot Patroling The Jungle of Corcovado National Park.    Photo Credit: Marieke Tacken. Unsplash

All things considered, it’s no mystery why National Geographic magazine called Corcovado the “most biologically intense place on Earth.”  This title is no exaggeration. However, to truly understand just how spectacular, you’ll have to go there yourself.

HOW

After touching down at Juan Santamaria Airport, driving to Corcovado National Park takes around 6-hours.

Corcovado National park activities include surfing, diving, boat trips, and more. However, the main draw is hiking through the jungle. Trekking options vary in both difficulty and length. The menu ranges from day trips to multi-day expeditions that venture deep into the reserve. These require you to either camp or stay overnight in one of several ranger stations dotted throughout the jungle.  Meals and potable water are available at these stations with advance notice.

Travel Essentials

Beyond that, you’ll need quick-drying clothes, a mosquito net, bug repellant, beachwear, hiking boots, a water container, a rain jacket, and of course, a camera. Above all, you’ll need to be in decent shape, particularly if you sign up for the more demanding routes. Most people visit between December to April during the dry season. If you visit between May to November, expect tropical humidity and daily showers in the late afternoon.

Death in Paradise

In May 2014,  Cody Roman Dial, son of the legendary Alaskan adventurer Roman Dial, went missing in The Osa Peninsula. Two years later, his remains, long searched for by park rangers, were discovered randomly by a group of off-map hikers. As a result, the Costa Rican government prohibited independent travel through the park.

Consequently, as of 2014, anyone wishing to visit Corcovado National Park trails must be accompanied by certified professional guides. More gung-ho explorers may find this restrictive. However, these guides know the area, trails, and sights better than anyone and can get you there and back again safely.  Moreover, they are masters at tracking, spotting, and identifying wildlife.

A toucan in Corcovado National Park
Black-Mandibled Toucan. Corcovado National Park.    Photo Credit: Zdenek Machace. Unsplash

 

Sunrise Over Corcovado National Park.
Sunrise Over Corcovado National Park. Photo Credit: Gez Xavier Mansfield. Unsplash
WHERE

Corcovado lies in the Osa Peninsula, in southwestern Costa Rica. If you’re not camping in the park, you’ll be staying in either Sierpe, Drake Bay, or Puerto Jimenez.

 

RISKS
  • Corcovado is home to big cats, ultra-poisonous frogs and snakes, and countless other gnarly critters. And none of them want anything to do with you. All except for the ‘peccary,’  an aggressive species of wild pig that runs in packs and hates being disturbed.
  • Try not to touch the trees. If you do, prepare to meet the bugs, ants, and thorns your guide warned you about when explaining why you shouldn’t touch the trees.
  • Never risk crossing rivers at high tide or during a storm, particularly if crossing the Rio Clara or the Rio Sirena. As well as powerful tidal currents, the rivers, oceans, and tidal lagoons are packed with crocodiles and bull sharks.
  • Corcovado National Park has no shortage of natural dangers. All of these can be offset by the presence of a guide. If you’re brainless enough to travel solo and end up lost, hope that the rangers find you before the illegal gold miners or armed poachers do.

Snake
Costa Rica is Home To over 130 Different Snake Species. Photo Credit: David Clode. Unsplash.

 

REWARDS
  • The Corcovado National Park trails are an eco-tourists wet dream. It’s also a magnet for scuba divers and snorkellers, who come to explore the crystal blue waters of  Golfo Dulce (The Sweet Gulf). Surfers head here looking to ride the region’s long powerful point breaks. This includes the world-famous ‘Pavones,’ an ultra-long left-hander on the inland coastline.
  • Costa Rica alone is a land of marvels; an interactive sensory experience where there are never enough days in the weekend. After experiencing the Corcovado National Park activities, check out more of the country and the culture. It won’t be long before you understand why Costa Rica has been repeatedly awarded the title of the world’s happiest country.
Aerial view of Corcovado National Park
Corcovado National Park. Where The Jungle Meets the Ocean.    Photo Credit: Costarica.org

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