Nacional Corcovado--the Amazon of Costa Rica--is the
largest stronghold of primary forest on a Pacific coastline
that has been all but destroyed from Mexico to South
America. Its 41,788 hectares encompass eight habitats,
from mangrove swamp and jolillo palm grove to montane
forest. The park protects more than 400 species of birds
(20 are endemic), 116 of amphibians and reptiles, and
139 of mammals--representing 10 percent of the mammals
in the Americas--on only 0.000101777 percent of the
landmass. Its healthy population of scarlet macaws (about
1,200 birds) is the largest concentration in Central
America. You can expect to see large flocks of macaws
in flight or feeding on almond trees by the shoreline.
Corcovado is a good place to spot the red-eyed tree frog (listen
for his single-note mating "cluck"), the
glass frog with its transparent skin, and enamel-bright
poison-arrow frogs. And you can watch fishing bats
doing just that over rivers at night. You can even
try your own hand for snook inside the mouths of the
coastal rivers on incoming tides. They strike plugs
all year and during the fall become very aggressive.
Corcovado is one of only two places in the country that harbor
squirrel monkeys (the other is Manuel Antonio). It's
also one of the last stands in the world for the harpy
eagle, although it hasn't been seen here in the last
several years and may now be extinct in Costa Rica.
As recently as the 1970s, tapirs were so numerous
around Lago Corcovado that squatters were killing
them just for fun. Four species of sea turtles--green,
Pacific ridley, hawksbill, and leatherback--nest on
the park's beaches. And the park supports a healthy
population of big cats and crocodiles, which like
to hang around the periphery of the Corcovado Lagoon.
Jaguar paw prints are commonly seen in the mud trails,
and the cats are often sighted.
The Osa Peninsula bears the brunt of torrential rains
from April to December. It receives up to 400 cm per
year. The driest months, January-April, are the best
times to visit.
The park has three entry points: La Leona, on the
southeast corner near Carate; Los Patos, on the northern
perimeter; and San Pedrillo, at the northwest corner,
18 km south of Drake Bay. You can hike or fly into
the park headquarters at Sirena, a large research
station set back from the beach, midway between La
Leona and San Pedrillo (it has an airstrip). There's
also a remote ranger station at Los Planes, on the
northern border midway between San Pedrillo and Los
Patos. All are linked by trails. Entrance costs $6
and is good for the duration of your stay.
park is administered through the Osa Conservation
Area headquarters in Puerto Jiménez (see the
Tourist Information section under Puerto Jiménez,
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