Your Guide to Corcovado National Park
Home to half of Costa Rica’s flora and fauna, the remote and spectacular Corcovado National Park is considered the most bio diverse region in the world.
Nowhere will you find this many species of flora and fauna thriving in such a small pocket of natural wonderland. Within its boundaries, which are still impressively large, there exist 13 different ecosystems, including several different types of forests, swamps, mangroves, and marine environments. For nature loving enthusiasts, few places elicit the kind of excitement and expectation that Corcovado does. For it is here that you have the best chance of spotting some of the most elusive animals in Costa Rica, like tapirs, jaguars, squirrel monkeys, scarlet macaws and Harpy eagles.
Moreover, the park’s remoteness means that no matter where you go, you’ll feel like you have the place to yourself. Oftentimes, you really do. Gone are the tourist crowds and long stretches of souvenir stalls. The only thing that reigns supreme here is nature, in all its wonderful glory.
For the adventure and wilderness seeker, and the traveler who prefers exploring way off the beaten path, an action-packed adventure in Corcovado is an absolute must.
Where is Corcovado National Park?
Located on the south-western tip of Costa Rica, Corcovado makes up a great chunk of the beautiful Osa Peninsula. There are several entry points into the park but Puerto Jimenez remains the most popular, and most convenient. Although only 240 miles from the capital, San Jose, driving time to Corcovado National Park is approximately 9 hours.
Unless you’re planning to take two days to reach Puerto Jimenez (there’s certainly plenty to see along the way) you should consider flying down instead. The chartered flight is inexpensive and a great option, yet they’re extremely strict on weight allowance so you must pack light from home. An alternative and immensely beautiful entry point (by boat) is Drake Bay, in the north.
When’s the Best Time to Visit?
Exploring Corcovado will require a few river crossings, so it is recommended to travel here during the dry season, in the months, between December and April. The moment you step out of the tourist areas in Costa Rica, you’ll see the rest of the country beating to a completely different drum. Down in the Osa Peninsula, it is another world, one where 4WDs are almost mandatory, especially when visiting Corcovado. The state of the roads makes transfer time-consuming, but it’s also immensely fun.
What Activities Are There?
The majority of Corcovado is completely inaccessible to visitors, yet there are still enough hiking trails here to keep you entranced for days on end. The trails take you right into the heart of the rainforests and along the startling beach, and connect the 4 different ranger stations: La Sirena, La Leona, San Pedrillo and Los Patos, with the latter being the only one inland, and not along the coast. It is on hikes through this spectacular reserve that you’ll enjoy up close and personal encounters with some of its most enticing animal species.
Upon arrival, you can grab a copy of the trails map, and get an updated condition on tide levels. Whether you walk through the forest, or along the 23 miles of rugged beach, you’ll be required to cross rivers, some of which are inhabited by American crocodiles and bull sharks. There is also the incredible opportunity to kayak through the estuaries within the rainforest, but this must be planned ahead. In the town of Puerto Jimenez, you can rent kayaks, bicycles, and even horses for excursions.
In Corcovado, even the shortest hike is a full-day affair, so multi-day hikers (as opposed to day trippers who visit a ranger station and walk nearby) will need to carry camping equipment, and book their stay along the way.
What Animals Will I See At Corcovado?
If it lives and thrives in Costa Rica, chances are you’ll find it in Corcovado. This includes all the felines living in the country, all nesting turtle species, all the monkey species, over 40 different types of frogs, dozens upon dozens of snakes and lizards, hundreds of birds and tens of thousands of insects.
For wildlife lovers, Corcovado promises a truly unforgettable experience, one that plays out among some of the most unspoilt wilderness on earth.
What’s it Like to Hike in Corcovado?
This would have to rate as one of the hardest – and simultaneously most rewarding – places to visit in all of Costa Rica. Getting there is half the fun and half the struggle, as the remoteness of the region and lack of development translate to hours spent hiking, on a boat, in a car, or on a charter plane. Once there, you’ll be welcomed by a humid, wet rainforest that drenches everything, including you. Yet for all the hard work, the rewards are stupendous. This is a spectacular place, a pocket of natural wilderness the likes of which you simply won’t find anywhere. A feast for the senses, Corcovado is a world of unique sounds, deafening sounds at times, and intense smells. Yet it’s the sights that impress most. The verdant colours of nature, from the trees to the flowers and all the animals, makes this an unparalleled visual feast.
Where Can You Stay When Visiting?
There is a smattering of lodgings in Corcovado National Park (and surrounds) ranging from cheap and cheerful backpackers’ hostels and dorms at ranger’s stations, to luxury jungle lodges that are out of this world.
The Logistics of Visiting Corcovado
If you want to visit Corcovado you’ll need to add a USD $10 per day into your budget, as well as rates for local guides. As of a few years ago, guides are compulsory, and visiting independently is not allowed.
You can choose to visit Corcovado on a multi-day hike (but be prepared for a hard slog!) or set your sights on La Sirena (the most beautiful park headquarters in the world, we think!) on a day trip from Drake Bay. La Sirena is actually a brilliant ‘end point’ for first-time hikers to tropical rainforests, because if you can’t manage to cope with the very basic accommodation choice at the park headquarters, you’ll have the option to leave by boat, and head back to Drake Bay and stay in one of the beautiful Corcovado hotels there instead.
Want to explore one of the world’s most incredible treasures? We can take you there. Contact us for more details, and let us show you how easy it is to combine a visit to Corcovado with a host of active pursuits in the region’s pristine nature.