In for a taste of the most biodiverse area of Central America? Well then, head towards Corcovado National Park. Good for miles and miles of primary rainforest, ranger stations in the middle of nowhere, exquisite wildlife and spectacular beaches. Meet the end of the world and stay the night in one of the most remote villages of Costa Rica. Definitely worth a visit.
#1 Corcovado National Park
Corcovado National Park is for a reason named the crown of Costa Rica’s national parks. It’s one of the most biologically diverse areas in Central America enabling visitors a close encounter with various wildlife in all sizes and colors.
Getting to the park is already a real adventure. We stayed at Drake Bay, a very isolated village near Corcovado, reachable by a one hour trip by speed boat from Sierpe.
From Drake Bay, it’s about 18 miles or another hour by yet again a small motor boat to reach the national park. From the boat, you get a glimpse of the vastness and magnitude of the park, with miles and miles of rainforest. It’s wet, remote and huge.
Our wildlife encounter already started before setting one foot into the park. During our boat trip, we spotted various dolphins and whales very close to the boat.
Once in the park, we took a guided walk for about 4 hours, with a stop at Sirena Ranger station. We started near the beach, crossed some rivers and walked into the forest.
After 2.5 hours or so, we took a break at Sirena Ranger Station, the biggest station in the park. It’s located in an open field with a small, grassy airfield in front of it. It offers a place to rest and to stay overnight. There are bunk beds with mosquito nets, sanitary facilities and you can get basic meals. The station is surrounded by dense rainforest. It breathes an atmosphere of being at the end of the world.
From the station, we headed into the opposite direction for another hour, leading us in the end back to the beach. I guess we didn’t hike more then 5 miles or so but we stopped a lot to spot animals and listen to the guides explanation.
We were lucky with the weather. Although it was very wet, there was no rain nor was it very hot so we had ample opportunity to see a lot of animals, the more because we had an excellent guide. He really wanted us to see as much as possible and made several detours to spot animals.
We were able to locate a mother and baby tapir – right in front of our eyes – nose bears, scarlet macaws and various colorful birds. There were squirrel, spider and howler monkeys. Near the end of our hike, spotted a jaguar. We saw hummingbird nests and various spiders and other insects. Rainforest, beaches, mangroves, more then enough to fill one day. It feels like staying at the end of the world.
#2 Explore Corcovado National Park on your own?
The entrance requirements to the park are strict. The number of visitors is limited (you need to register at the entrance of the park) and on top, you need a permit to enter. Guides need to be registered in advance with the park services. The entrance fee is 15 dollar
So whether you want to visit only one day or stay overnight in the park, you always have to book in advance through a certified travel organization and be accompanied by a licensed guide. We made the reservation through our accommodation in Drake Bay. I recommend to book in advance, in particular in the high season or and for sure if you want to stay overnight in Sirena Station.
We joined a guided day tour from Drake Bay and hiked around for about 4 hours, which was easily feasible.
You can easily spend more days in the park. There are several tour operators offering an overnight stay in Corcovado combined with a hike through the park. You then stay overnight in Sirena Ranger Station and can hike various long and short trails.
If you want to explore the area yourself, you can explore the hiking trails and beaches around Drake Bay. In Drake Bay is an excellent trail along the beach, the famous Drake Bay Trail. The trail leads from the village of Drake Bay up to San Pedrillo. There are hanging bridges, small waterfalls, secluded beaches, rivers, wildlife, giant trees, … along the way. We envisaged to hike the trail but since it was raining very hard, we only hiked a small part of it. We stopped at the first beach Playa Cocalito but most people go as far as to San Josecito beach, which seems to be very nice.
# 3 How to get to Corcovado, Drake Bay and accommodation
Corcovado is one of the most remote areas of Costa Rica. So it’s quite an adventure to get there. Most of the tourists stay in Puerto Jiménez or in Drake Bay alias Bahia Drake on the Osa Peninsula. Want to know more? Read my blog on Great accommodation, tips and costs.