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Corcovado National Park: Things to Do

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Created in the 1970s in response to widespread destruction of vital habitat caused by illegal gold mining, Corcovado National Park is now one of the most biologically intense and complex ecosystems in the world. Exotic and lush, the park features 13 major ecosystems from mangrove swamps and palm groves, to rain forests, beaches and lowland forests. These ecosystems provide a home for more than 1,000 species of insects, plants and animals, making it an ideal destination for any nature lover.

Corcovado National Park is located on the Osa Peninsula in the Puntarenas Province of southern Costa Rica. Encompassing more than 105,168 land acres and 8,288 marine acres, Corcovado National Park is the largest national park in Costa Rica and is considered the crown jewel of the country’s national parks and biological reserves.

To help you learn more about this unique and awe-inspiring nature reserve, enjoy this comprehensive guide to Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica.

Corcovado National Park facts

Size:  At 424 sq. km. Corcovado National Park is the largest park in Costa Rica.
Entrance fee: USD 15 per person* per day for non-Costa Rican residents.
Permits: Permits must be reserved in advance and are not issued more than one month in advance. Visitors must be accompanied by a certified Corcovado National Park guide. Corcovado National Park tours can be organized through a myriad of companies.
Best time to visit: The best time to visit Corcovado National Park is during dry season, which runs January through April. Check out the best time to visit Costa Rica for more details.
Common animal sightings: Jaguars, sea turtles, anteaters, butterflies (more than 220 species), scarlet macaw, sloths, crocodiles, snakes (including the Fer-de-lance, bushmaster and non-venomous boa constrictor), poison-arrow frogs, monkeys, tapirs, and many more!

Highlights

  • The park is a paradise for hikers with long and short distance trails winding throughout the jungles and beaches.
  • Corcovado Beach is comprised of 37 km of pristine beach, which is the breeding ground for four species of sea turtles.
  • Marvel at the wonder of the La Llorona Waterfall, which plummets 100ft (30m) into the sandy shore along Corcovado beach between Sirena and San Pedrillo.
  • Encounter some of Costa Rica’s most famous critters, including sea turtles, jaguars, monkeys, tapirs, sloths and more!

Lowlights

  • Swimming in the shores is not recommended as hammerhead sharks, crocodiles and bull sharks are common in Corcovado Lagoon (although no attacks have ever been reported).
  • Several species of venomous frogs and snakes can be found in the park, including the dreaded bushmaster and fer-de-lance. It is unlikely you will see one during the day, but take caution when reaching into areas you don’t have a clear view of.
  • Weather is hot and humid most of the year, and dehydration and heat exhaustion are a real danger. Hiking routes along the beach offer little shade and shelter from the hot sun. It is advised you bring no less than 1.5 liters of water with you on your hiking expedition.
  • Visiting Corcovado National Park can be a challenge as there are no roads into the park. Visitors must arrive by air, boat, on horseback or on foot.

Activities in the park

Hiking

hiking in Corcovado National Park
Go on a refreshing hike in the rainforests of Corcovado National Park.

Corcovado National Park is a hiking paradise. Crisscrossing through the forest and right along the shoreline, Corcovado National Park is home to some of Costa Rica’s most stunning hiking trails. With routes ranging in length from 3.5 to 29 km, Corcovado National Park is an ideal destination for hiking enthusiasts.

Although some of the routes may be short, they are not for the faint of heart. A reasonable fitness level, good planning and caution are necessary for each and every trek. Some routes require fording rivers, which can only be done at low tide, so it’s best to check in at the ranger station before embarking on your adventure.

Keep your eyes peeled as you wander through this bustling ecosystem, as this is the best way to sport the exotic animals that call Corcovado Park home.

This 11 day adventure tour in Costa Rica includes hiking through Corcovado National Park’s the lush rainforest.

Kayaking

Kayaking is a great alternative to explore the forests of Corcovado.
Kayak through the rainforest, sea shores or in between massive cliffs in the park.

Get a completely different view of the park by exploring its coast by sea kayak. Cruise alongside massive cliffs topped with lush rainforest, navigate sea channels, and explore inlets and caves, all while experiencing the park in a truly one-of-a-kind way.

Enjoy spotting all kinds of wildlife, including dolphins, pelicans, monkeys and more, all from the comfort of your very own kayak.

Kayak tours of the parks’ rivers can also be arranged with local guides. These tours provide visitors with a very unique view of the forest’s biodiversity and close encounters with the park’s river dwellers.

Bird and wildlife watching

Water, birds and beaches of Corcovado National Park.
Pelicans perch on a rock in the shores of the National Park.

Wildlife in Corcovado National Park reigns supreme and it is undoubtedly the best place to spot wildlife in Costa Rica. Home to more than 350 species of birds, 116 species of amphibians and reptiles, and 139 mammals, Corcovado National Park has it all. From tapirs to monkeys, sloths and macaws, there is something for everyone!

Whether exploring the park on foot, or by kayak, be sure to pack your binoculars and keep an eye out, because you never know what you might see!

If you’re looking to discover the wildlife of Corcovado National Park and other national parks in Costa Rica, check out this tour.

Good to know

  • The park is open from 7:30 AM – 5:00 PM each day.
  • Most animal sightings can be expected on the coastal track.
  • Camping is permitted for a maximum of four days, but is only possible at the ranger stations at the entrances and the central ranger station. Cost is USD 4* and you must bring your own gear. Backcountry camping is not permitted.
  • Visitors wishing to spend the night in the park can book a bunk in the Sirena Ranger Station dorm at a cost of USD 8* per night.
  • There is no food available for purchase in the park, however meals are available at the central ranger station, but they must be arranged in advance.
  • Potable drinking water and restrooms can be found only at the ranger stations. There are no facilities found on the hiking routes.

Corcovado National Park is a treasure, unlike any other. Within the park’s 424 sq. km live more than 1,000 species of plants, insects and animals, many of which can be seen while exploring the park’s expansive system of trails. It is the perfect place to see all of Costa Rica’s wonders and exotic flora and fauna, and is sure to be the highlight of any hiking or nature enthusiasts visit to Central America.

Note: The prices listed are as of January 2018*

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