Corcovado National Park in southwestern Costa Rica is wild; imagine a huge unspoiled rainforest rising from the sea, where you can hike for days in the endless greenery. And you are guaranteed to meet wildlife here.

The wildlife of Corcovado National Park

A coati in Corcovado National Park.
A coati in Corcovado. Corno van den Berg

This rainforest is known for its abundant wildlife. Like howler monkeys, white-faced capuchin monkeys, spider monkeys and the rare yellow skull monkey. But also coatis, white-lip peccaries, collared peccaries (kind of wild pigs) and roaming raccoons.

Corcovado is also home to countless species of snakes, sloths, over 100 species of colorful butterflies and more than 10,000 species of insects. The American crocodile and the harpy (the largest eagle species) also live here.

The park has more than 400 bird species, including 16 species of hummingbirds and the most beautiful bird of Costa Rica; the quetzal. Corcovado National Park is also the best place in Central America to see the yellow-winged macaw.

The many predators

Also, six predators roam the rainforest: jaguar, cougar, ocelot, jaguarundi, oncilla and margay.

The tapirs from Corcovado

This national park mostly attracts tourists to spot the endangered Central American tapir (also known as Baird’s tapir). It is one of the best places in Costa Rica to see this mammal. The guides know where animals like to rest or where they like to walk. So you stand quite a chance to see them.

A sloth eating in a tree.
A sloth eating in a tree. Corno van den Berg

Things to see and do in Corcovado National Park:

Los Patos

Los Patos is the entrance on the north side, where you can start your hike to Sirena on the coast. The hike is about eight hours and leads you straight through the park.

Sirena

Sirena is located on the coast and is one of the best places to start your exploration of the park. This place is easiest to reach by boat from Drake Bay. Ask on the spot whether your tour goes to Sirena or San Pedrillo (in the west).

San Pedrillo

San Pedrillo is the easiest to reach from Drake Bay. It is located on the beach in the far west of the park. You will be dropped off on the beach by boat, after which you will travel into the jungle with a guide. Here various hiking trails run along the beach, but also right through the rainforest. There is also a footpath along the river where you can reach a waterfall. Where you can freshen up in the remarkably warm water.

La leona

La Leona is the entrance that lies to the east. You can go here with a combi taxi, after which you still have to walk for over an hour before you reach the entrance to the park. One of the most popular walks in the park is from La Leona to Sirena, which takes about five hours.

A beach in Corcovado National Park.
A beach in Corcovado. Corno van den Berg

Laguna Corcovado

Lake Corcovado is special as it is striking how often tapirs come to drink. When you hike from Sirena to Los Patos or vice versa, you stand a great chance to see tapirs as you pass this absolute “hotspot”.

Camping in Corcovado

It is allowed to camp in this nature reserve which gives you a great opportunity to experience the park to the fullest. Bring enough food and drinks, and a tent and sleeping gear.

The weather conditions in the park are humid, thus making your belongings moist. Use the sun during the day to dry everything. Also, bring enough insect repellent as well as sunscreen.

Hiking in Corcovado

When you hike through Corcovado, you will occasionally have to cross a river. This could mean wading through murky waters up to your waist. When you hike along the coastline, it is good to know the schedule of the tides so you do not get into trouble when you have to cross rivers.

For a multi-day hiking excursion, it is useful to go with a guide as he knows the best route, the best sightings and the dangers of the reserve.

If you go on a day tour, it is easier to go with a guide than to go by yourself. Although you may still have to wade through the water, the guide will help you in finding the easiest way. Also, the guide brings a telescope and multiple binoculars, which allows you to see more species.

How to get to Corcovado National Park?

Corcovado National Park can be reached in two ways. Or three; if you count on foot. Because that is the most important and only means of transport in the park.

Via the road

You can reach the park via the access road through the village of Carate. This village is located 43 km southwest of Puerto Jiménez. Keep in mind that there are no roads in the park and you have to continue on foot. Prepare your trip well, the resources in the park are very limited.

By boat

Day trips by boat are organized from neighbouring Drake Bay. There are several hotels and lodges in Drake Bay that organize tours with a guide. During a tour, you explore a part of the park on foot. You usually hike on various hiking trails but you can also swim in a river. Swimming in the sea is not recommended; due to the strong current, but also due to the sometimes gigantic and life-threatening crocodiles that live here.

More information: costa-rica-guide.com