Corcovado National Park
In southwestern Costa Rica, a peninsula sticks out into the Pacific Ocean like a big toe. This is the Osa, one of Costa Rica’s last wild frontiers. Most of this frontier is protected within the rain forest wilderness known as Corcovado National Park. About as far from civilization as you can get in Costa Rica, Corcovado National Park is a place for the adventurous. This is a park for those hoping to see a jaguar, to see crocodiles and sharks waiting at the river mouths, to see flocks of Scarlet Macaws. Corcovado National Park is for people ready to witness Costa Rica at its wildest.
Location and how to get there
Corcovado National Park is found on the Osa Peninsula in southwestern Costa Rica. There are two main entrance points; Drake Bay on the western edge and Carate on the eastern edge of the park. The easy way to get there is by charter flights; a quick 1 hour hop from San Jose. The longer, more adventurous route is by vehicle; a trip that can take 10-12 hours. Although most of the drive is along good roads, the final stretch to Puerto Jimenez is a dusty, bone jarring jaunt. From Puerto Jimenez, continue on to Carate along a similar road with 2 river crossings. To reach the Sirena ranger station, you have to leave the car at Carate and walk for several kilometers along the hot beach, wading a few rivers along the way. Accessing Drake Bay is a bit easier but still adventurous. If driving, it involves leaving the car at Sierpe (near Palmar Sur) then taking a boat through mangroves and out into the ocean before docking at Drake.
Corcovado National Park holds the largest remaining rain forests of the southern Central American Pacific coast. This core area is vitally important for many species restricted to southwestern Costa Rica and extreme western Panama. Countless plants and insects, over 130 mammals and 116 reptiles and amphibians are all found here. One of the 370 bird species recorded in Corcovado, the Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager, is almost entirely restricted to the park. Other emblematic, endangered species such as Jaguar, Baird’s Tapir, Harpy Eagle and Scarlet Macaw have some of their largest Costa Rican populations in Corcovado.
Rain forest wilderness
Corcovado is all about experiencing a rain forest wilderness and if you visit, that is exactly what you will find. The series of trails through the park are nearly guaranteed to bring you face to face with a variety of rain forest animals such as monkeys (up to 4 species), sloths, agoutis, peccaries, coatis, frogs and much more. If you are especially lucky, you might even see a Jaguar on the beach at night as they hunt turtles. Before entering any trail in Corcovado, make sure to sign in with the rangers, watch where you step (venomous snakes are common) and NEVER leave the trail. In fact it’s probably best to hire a guide who knows the park for a safer and richer rainforest experience.
Hotels near Corcovado National Park
The Corcovado area receives many visitors and there are several hotels to choose from. The most adventurous can camp within the park or stay at the Sirena Ranger Station (bring your own food and equipment). Folks in need of more comfortable options can choose among several hotels in the middle and upper range in the Drake Bay and Carate sectors. Bosque del Cabo is a choice closer to Puerto Jimenez. If you need to stay in town, frontier-like Puerto Jimenez has a few small hotels and restaurants.