Corcovado National Park

Location: Osa Peninsula on Pacific side.
Size: 103,258 acres (41,788 ha) of land; 5,930 acres (2,400 ha) of marine habitat.
Hours: Park open daily; office in Puerto Jimenez 8 a. m. to 4 p. m. Monday through Friday.
Informationl Reservations: Telephone hotline 192, (506) 735-5282, telephonelfax (506) 735-5036; advance reservations essentialfor camping or meals at stations.

Corcovado, on the Osa Peninsula in southwest Costa Rica, is a remote park, It is big!! It is marvelous!! A park administrator once had counted 150 scarlet macaws in two groups near the Madrigal River. Two of these large members of the parrot family preen their brilliant red, yellow, and blue plumage; eat; and glide gracefully from treetop to treetop.

Five hundred species of trees live here, including probably the tallest in the country, a ceiba or kapok tree that soars to 230 feet (70 m). Eight habitat types exist: montane forest, cloud forest, alluvial plains forest, swamp, palm forest, mangrove, and rocky and sandy vegetation. more about Flora and Fauna.

You may encounter scientific researchers studying everything from how jacamars know not to eat toxic butterflies and the life habits of the squirrel monkey to why some South America species are found here but not in Panama or on Costa Rica's Atlantic side. Researchers often work out of the Sirena station.

Trails link four major park stations: Sirena, La Leona, and San Pedrillo, on the Pacific coast; and Los Patos, inland near the Rincon River. They range from 4 to 15 miles long (6 to 24 km). Two popular routes are Los Patos to Sirena, 12 miles (18 km), and La Leona to Sirena, 10 miles (16 km). The hike from San Pedrillo to Sirena is not advisable except from December to April (drier months, when rivers are lower). Shorter trails fan out from stations. At Sirena, seven trails offer half-mile to 3-mile (1- to 5-km) forays into the forest. With advance notice, visitors can eat at ranger stations.

Many visitors experience Corcovado on day trips to the San Pedrillo entrance by boat from the Drake Bay area and to La Leona from the southern end of the peninsula, about a 2-mile hike (3-km) from Carate. Some charter flights make Sirena a day-visit possibility. From Puerto Jimenez, visitors enter through La Leona or hike to Los Patos.

The Pacific adds a marine component. Sperm whales pass by, marine turtles nest on its beaches, and there's a live coral reef at Salsipuedes. Among endangered species protected at Corcovado are five species of cat (including the jaguar), giant anteaters, sloths, and the harpy eagle, the largest bird of prey in the world. Identified so far are 367 species of birds, 500 of trees, 104 of mammals, and 117 species of amphibians and reptiles. Herds of white-lipped peccaries have been known to tree visitors along the trails.

Though its remoteness and heavy vegetation protected areas now encompassed by the park, Corcovado does have an interesting human history. Local lore holds that Cubans trained along its beaches before the Bay of Pigs landing, and that Sandinistas sought its isolation for training for a brief period before President Anastasio Somoza of Nicaragua was overthrown in 1979. Miners invaded its confines to pan for gold in the 1980s but were evicted in 1986. Again in 1995, park personnel evicted miners. Small farms and forestry operations had made inroads in the virgin forest before the park was established in 1975.

Much of the terrain is hilly, rising from deserted coastal beaches. Elevation is from sea level to 1,932 feet (782 in). Mid-December to mid-April is the driest period; average annual rainfall in the mountains is 217 inches (5,500 mm). Average temperature is 79'F (26'C).

Obtain information about Corcovado at the Osa Conservation Area office in Puerto Jimenez across from the landing strip. Camping is permitted in designated areas next to park stations, by reservation only. Mosquito netting recommended.

Getting There
Get to Puerto Jimezen From there, the closest ranger station. is Los Patos, which involves getting to La Palma and then a two-hour trek by foot. For the southern Pacific area, continue by taxi or car to the end of the road for the trek to La Leona. Boat access from Drake Bay. Area lodges and private reserves arrange tours; San Jose agencies offer packages. See directions for getting to Puerto Jimezenz

Where to stay near Corcovado

Several private nature reserves and lodges Corcovado.

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