Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Corcovado National Park

Rusting tractor at the Ranger Station on the edge of the National Park

On our final full day on the Osa Peninsula we decided to hire a guide a visit the Corcovado National Park. The park, as every guide book you will tell you, has been dubbed "the most biologically intense place on Earth" by National Geographic.

Before we could get to the Park we had to drive one of Costa Rica’s worst roads. Impassable during parts of the wet season, we decided to risk the Grand Vitara and tackle the fourteen rivers that we had to cross on the way there and the way back. There were armfuls of opposite lock as we momentary lost control of the car on a steep muddy incline. The scariest river had an almost vertical bank that I never thought we would make it up and out of. Somehow we get out, only momentarily grounding out the car. The thought of the journey back was preying on my mind for most of the day.

The road ends three and a half kilometers from the entrance to the Corcovado National Park and we had to hike along the beach to the Ranger Station that marks the entrance of the Park. It was the hottest day of the year so far and the humidity was reaching 100%. I have to admit I was a bit of a sight for most of the day.

The paths inside the National Park are pretty well marked and you could find your way without a guide. However, as with Monteverde, the guide really helped us to see more wildlife than I would have seen on my own.

We followed the path north towards the Sirena Ranger Station which is located in the middle of the Reserve. You have to cross a number of creeks and streams along the way. There is no alternative, but to get wet, up to your waist if it is high tide!

Along the way we saw birds of prey, scarlet macaws, toucans, spider monkeys, capuchin monkeys and a small group of carate foraging on the ground. It was good to see in the wild many of the animals we had seen the previous day at the Osa Wildlife Reserve. We saw signs of activity of a group of peccarie in the area, but after discovering yesterday that they eat humans I wasn’t overly upset to miss them! On the beach we also saw the prints of a cat (puma or jaguar) which would have been cool to see from a safe distance. Our guide also explained about some of the adaptions of the local trees to the environment and their uses.

It was a good end to my Costa Rican adventure. Well worth a days hike. If you visit the National Park, take lots of water and only drive yourself if you have a serious 4x4. Taking the collectivo will probably give you more peace of mind.

Getting the car cleaned after our river crossings before we returned it to the hire company.


  1. Richard. Wondering if you went all the way to the Sirena ranger station (16 KM) and if you hiked back or were able to get a ride by boat or plane back.

  2. David, we didn't get all the way to Sirena. Our guide said that it wasn't possible to hike there and back in one day.

    We didn't look into the possibility of getting a boat or plane back. There is an air strip at Sirena and Puerto Jiminez. I guess all things are possible at a price! However, I didn't seen any adverts for those tours.