This past year we’ve seen animals, lots of them so when we heard about Corcovado we were excited to discover tons of rainforest animals. Upon arriving to the beach entrance to Corcovado National Park we saw a Baird’s Tapir and assumed the siting would set the tone for the rest of our 4 hour tour (too short). After coming down from the shadows of Costa Rica’s highest mountain and seeing a ton of birds and some animals we were thrilled to continue this trend. Guests at the lodge we worked at raved about their trips in Corcovado but forgot to mention the need to stay longer than the day (really only a half day) tour.
So now we’re beached in front of the jungle changing into our hiking shoes and we get the the disclaimers from the guides that whatever you’re expecting to see you may not and what you aren’t thinking about seeing may be what you encounter. Takes the pressure off them doesn’t it? 30 minutes into the trail we spotted a coati crossing our path, spider monkeys in the trees, peccaries waiting for food to drop down and heard howler monkeys in the distance. Then things started to slow down and we started birding a bit more. Our guide Esteban would set-up his scope and have us peer through the viewer. The most beautiful birds we saw throughout the day were from the Trogon family, the same as the Resplendent Quetzal we’d seen earlier this month.
We ran into a population of a million army ants and observed for 15 minutes watching these little guys come down and through carrying lizard tails, cockroaches, and other dead insect parts. After another break on a shaded area where the river meets the ocean, we watched various sized hermits move about.
Lunch on the beach, though most opted off the beach as it was way too hot for sitting under the sun, and an hour ride to back to our hotel and that was our guided tour.
This time we were dropped off at a neighboring beach as the wave and beach right in front of our hotel was no bueno for docking. A 15 minute walk from our spot turned into 30 minutes as we discovered beautiful beach/jungle landscapes, were enchanted with what could only be the dance of mating Scarlet Macaws, ran into a group of lazy monkeys, and then into another tree with about 8 other Scarlet Macaws making noise. We finally got into our room, had a quick change of clothes, and made our way back to the beach where we were dropped off. The transition from 10-22 ºC weather in the mountains to the Osa Peninsula’s hot, humid weather was tough. The sun was scorching after our tour and during our walk up and down the beach. Half an hour after we got in the super warm water we heard thunder and huge gray clouds rolled through and dumped rain on us. We moved our stuff into a covered area but it all got soaked. We stayed in the ocean for half an hour thinking we could sit out the rain and walk back until it stopped. It didn’t. After watching the drops fall and plop into the gentle waves we got out and walked back soaked but were relieved from the heat of the day. We could have easily stayed in the water longer but were getting cold from the rain. We would have loved to hike and walk around the surrounding areas looking for animals and knowing that there was a lot out there. We weren’t entirely happy with our Corcovado tour and would have definitely done some things differently.
DON’T GO TO CORCOVADO
- Without a (great) guide– This is now a requirement anyways. A great guide is approachable and knowledgeable. Come to these places with questions about the animals.
- If you’re planning on hiking during the day. Most people in Latin America are taking a siesta midday, so are the animals.
- If you are not willing to do a night tour– Night time is the best for seeing animal activity. Animals are going out for dinner when it’s not so hot and easy to be detected.
- Unless you have a at least 2 days to hike in the surrounding areas– We later realized after short walks around are area that there’s great hiking for seeing monkeys, birds, and other animals.
- If you’re showing up without a reservation– In order to get a spot in the dorms at any of the ranger station inside the park you should book a few weeks in advance.
- If you can’t time you river crossing– Assuming you are deciding to go for longer than a day it’s likely you will have to cross some rivers. There are bull sharks and crocodiles waiting to feast. There stories about people and sharks and crocodiles.
- If you’re expecting an easy to get to destination– Simply getting into the park is a pain in the ass. Don’t fly. It’s messes with the environment when a loud small charter plan lands in the middle of the jungle.
- If you don’t like spiders, insects, and other creepy crawlers- Esteban told us stories of people who were arachnophobia. Why would an arachnophobic person go to Costa Rica?!?!
- In the wet season– You made the journey of getting there even tougher. What kind of terrain and hiking are you expecting it’s called a RAINforest.
- Without binoculars- This true especially for birding. You can hear so many beautiful birds and primates in the tree but to get a glimpse of their beauty and the detail of their face and physical body requires some extra help.