Costa Rica Travel – Nearly two million tourists visit Costa Rica each year. Yet only a tiny fraction of that number find their way to one of the country’s most stunning gems: Corcovado National Park. Dubbed “one of the most biologically intense places on Earth” by National Geographic, and home to some 2 percent of the world’s biodiversity, Corcovado National Park is easily one of the most rewarding adventures to experience in Costa Rica. Here’s what you need to know for the trip of a lifetime:
Corcovado National Park is remotely located on the corner of the Osa Peninsula. Arriving at the park is an adventure itself, but also half the fun. To get to the Osa, you can choose to take a quick flight or long bus ride to the small town of Puerto Jimenez. This is one of the most popular starting points for travel into the park, especially for budget travelers. Alternatively, Drake Bay is an excellent access point on the northern side of the park and is where many of the eco-lodges will meet you.
From Puerto Jimenez, the closest entrance to the National Park is at Carate. From Drake Bay, you will need to access the park via San Pedrillo.
Previously it was possible to hike the park independently, but now all tourists must be accompanied by registered guides (what we recommend anyway). Permits are required for both day trips and overnight stays within the park. The fee is $10 per person, per day; food and camping are at an additional charge. Your guide should be able to help you with the park permit. Be sure to reserve your spot in advance as daily places are limited.
Corcovado National Park is home to some 13 different ecosystems. It is also the last Pacific lowland rainforest of sustainable size, and home to the country’s densest population of tapirs, jaguars, and scarlet macaws! You don’t have to be an outdoor enthusiast to appreciate that. For optimal wildlife sighting opportunities, you’ll need a few days in the park. For the ultimate adventure, take a three-day hike through the park to Sirena Station. This isn’t for the faint of heart — you’ll be carrying all of your gear on your back through the sticky and humid jungle. The days are long, and include crocodile-infested river crossings and long treks on the beach. But if you’re up for the workout, you’ll be rewarded with an intimate and secluded experience with nature at its finest.
For those who want to experience Corcovado on a slightly less intense scale, there are a few eco-lodges that border the park and make day trips surprisingly easy. We recommend Casa Corcovado, an eco-lodge that is so close to the park, you don’t even need to leave the luxury retreat grounds to feel like you’re in Corcovado itself. The owner of Casa Corcovado is also the co-founder and president of the non-profit Corcovado Foundation, which works to preserve the natural heritage of Corcovado for future generations. So you can be sure your stay here is supporting a good cause (and not just a stay at another “eco-lodge” that has nothing eco about it).
If you have the time, there are plenty of other activities you can add to your hiking experience. Cano Island offers world-renowned scuba diving and the chance to see white-tipped reef sharks, amongst other spectacular marine life. If you prefer to stay above the water, deep sea fishing is also a popular day trip. Finally, there are plenty of opportunities for zip lining, kayaking, chocolate tasting, and yoga. If you’re looking for the ultimate adventure and a chance to encounter monkeys, lizards, tapirs, toucans, macaws, poison dart frogs, and more, then you can’t miss a visit to Corcovado National Park!