Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica

Corcovado National Park is the backpacking experience of a lifetime. It encompasses the only remaining old growth wet forests on the Pacific coast of Central America, and 13 major ecosystems including lowland rain forest, highland cloud forest, jolillo palm forest, and mangrove swamps, as well as coastal marine and beach habitats.There is a good chance of spotting some of Costa Rica’s shyest and most endangered inhabitants here; Baird’s Tapirs, Jaguars, Scarlet Macaws, Harpy Eagles, Red-backed squirrel monkeys and White-lipped Peccaries. It is wet, remote and rugged, but the trails are relatively good, and the camping areas near the ranger stations are grassy and well drained.

If you have ever imagined yourself swimming up to a deserted golden sand beach lined with coconut palms, then rinsing off under a waterfall surrounded by the verdure of the rainforest. Then you’ll find Corcovado’s 23 miles (39 km) of beaches appealing. We walked 11 miles (18 km) of beach one day and saw one other person. Take care where you swim, there are areas where hammerhead sharks school (there has never been a reported attack), and crocodiles are common in Corcovado Lagoon and the estuaries of the Ríos Claro and Sirena.

Forests and Wildlife

Lowland rain forest, highland cloud forest, jolillo palm forest, and mangrove swamps, coastal marine, and beach habitats support a spectacular variety of wildlife. All four of the monkey species (including the highly endangered Red-backed squirrel monkey), and all six of the feline species found in Costa Rica inhabit Corcovado.  All four of the sea turtle species that nest in Costa Rica visit the beaches of Corcovado as well. Over 40 species of frogs including red-eyed tree, rain, glass, dink, and poison arrow varieties, dozens of snakes including a variety of Boas and the dreaded bushmaster, as well as 28 species of lizards. More than 100 species of butterflies and at least 10,000 other insects call the Osa peninsula home (including a few you may wish were endangered). More than 400 species of birds including 16 different hummingbirds and the largest number of scarlet macaws anywhere in Central America.

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Wonderland spots on earth