- Visiting Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica’s Crown Jewel
- How to get to Corcovado National Park with Adobe Rent a Car
- How to visit Corcovado National Park from Drake Bay
- How to visit Corcovado National Park from Puerto Jiménez
- Corcovado National Park Tours and Activities
- Corcovado National Park Wildlife and Environment
- Around Corcovado National Park – Hotels and Activities
Visiting Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica’s Crown Jewel
On Costa Rica’s remote Osa Peninsula on the southwestern Pacific Coast lies one of the world’s greatest natural treasures, the Corcovado National Park. Known as El Parque Nacional de Corcovado in Spanish, the massive conservation area is considered the “Crown Jewel’ of Costa Rica’s extensive park system.
The country is home to approximately 160 protected areas, including national parks, reserves, (and absolute reserves), marine parks, conservation areas, refuges, and more. In fact, close to 25% of the country is either privately or nationally protected.
Corcovado National Park is largely covered in rainforest, so the weather is often rainy. The best time to visit for this reason is during the dry season between December and April. Visitors traveling during Pacific rainy season will likely find challenging conditions, swollen rivers, muddy or impassable roads, and heavy rains.
How to get to Corcovado National Park with Adobe Rent a Car
Adobe Rent a Car has 16 offices in Costa Rica. Each is located strategically to accommodate a diverse range of clientele. Patrons can choose from a wide assortment of cars, including powerful 4WD vehicles perfect for Costa Rica’s sometimes wild terrain.
Our Adobe San José Airport Office is less than five minutes from the Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO). A bilingual Adobe representative will meet you at the airport exit and transfer you to the office free of charge.
A 4WD vehicle is recommended when visiting the Southern Zone and the Osa Peninsula. Rugged roads and unpredictable weather mean it’s best to be prepared. Speak with your Adobe agent if you need help choosing the right vehicle for your trip.
The fastest route from the Capital, San José, is to take Route 27 northwest from San José towards Caldera then exit onto Route 34, which is known as the Costanera. Route 27 is a toll road and runs a little under U.S. $7 in local currency.
Next, take Route 34 south for approximately 135 km before merging onto Route 2, the Inter-American Highway, at Palmar Sur. If you are going to access the park from Drake Bay head to the town of Sierpe.
If you’re planning on accessing the park through Puerto Jiménez, veer west onto Route 245 near Chacarita. This will take you into the Osa Peninsula and south to Puerto Jiménez.
How to visit Corcovado National Park from Drake Bay
Getting to Drake is an adventure in itself. You will need to leave your rental car in one of the guarded lots in the town of Sierpe and take a taxi boat. Daily boat trips to and from Sierpe to Drake Bay are usually offered two times per day, depending on the company. They leave from the La Perla del Sur and Las Vegas waterfront restaurants in town. The roughly one-hour trip down the Sierpe River passes through pristine wetlands, marshes, and mangrove swamp before arriving at Drake on the coast.
Drake Bay is a popular off-the-beaten-track destination for outdoor adventure seekers. It is also a well-known launching point into the northwestern region of the park. Most day tours begin with a boat ride from Drake to the coastal San Pedrillo Ranger Station then a hike to the inland La Sirena Ranger Station. Some excursions include a stop at Cano Island Biological Reserve, which is famous for its coral reefs and superb snorkeling and scuba diving.
How to visit Corcovado National Park from Puerto Jiménez
Puerto Jiménez is located on the southern tip of the peninsula and is considered the gateway to Parque Corcovado. The small yet lively town has numerous lodging options, restaurants, and tour providers. For hiking in Corcovado, visitors can book day or overnight trips from an outfitter in town.
The 373 km (232 mi) drive from San José takes approximately 5:45 if you drive straight through without stoping. A more realistic estimate is 9 hours. Most drivers will need to stop to eat or rest en-route. It’s also worthwhile to visit one or more of the charming beach towns along the way.
A four-wheel drive vehicle is highly recommended in and around Puerto Jiménez. Frequent rains, dirt roads, and rivers are all regular features of the peninsula and visitors should be prepared.
In-country flights to Corcovado National Park – Adobe Rent a Car’s Uvita and Quepos Offices
Some visitors prefer to cut back on drive-time and take an in-country flight to the Puerto Jiménez or Drake Bay airports. Another option is to fly to the town of Quepos and rent a car from the Adobe Quepos or Adobe Uvita Offices.
Any driving questions or concerns can be addressed at either of our offices near the Osa Peninsula, or by contacting our local staff at 2542-4800; WhatsApp 8494-5956; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Corcovado National Park Tours and Activities
Exploring and even camping in Corcovado National Park is a Costa Rican “must do!” Guided day hikes and overnight treks are offered so that visitors can experience the fascinating array of ecosystems and wildlife. Visitors must always be accompanied by a certified guide, however. The park’s large size and intense terrain make getting lost highly possible and having a guide is obligatory.
The park entrance fee for foreigners is $15 per day with a two-day minimum. Visit the Costa Rica National System of Conservation Areas website SINAC for additional information about lodging and meal rates within the park.
There are several ranger stations within the park where you’ll find campsites and in some cases, even cots. These can be reserved ahead of time. Researchers have priority over regular tourist, however, so it’s best to reserve your sleeping space as early as possible.
La Sirena Ranger Station serves as the park’s headquarters and is also the launching point of many popular hiking trails. Most boat tours originating out of Drake Bay or Puerto Jiménez use the La Sirena trails for their day excursions.
Perhaps the most popular day hike in Corcovado National Park is from the La Leona Ranger Station to La SIrena. Visitors usually leave from Puerto Jiménez walk or drive to La Leona. From there the trail mostly follows the coastline until heading inland to la SIrena.
Hiking along the beach and coastline should always be done at low tide when the beaches are clear and river crossings are safer. During high tide, crossing at a river mouth or estuary can be extremely dangerous due to possible strong and deep currents. Keep in mind that bull sharks and crocodiles are also common around river-mouth habitats.
On the eastern border of the park lies the Los Patos Ranger Station and trailhead. The trailhead can be reached by foot and occasionally by 4×4. All visitors to the station should have advanced reservations as well.
Corcovado National Park Map
Corcovado National Park Wildlife and Environment
Corcovado National Park is Costa Rica’s largest protected area covering an impressive 424 square kilometers (164 sq. mi). The change in elevation is equally dramatic, ranging from sea level to 745 meters high (2,444 feet).
This significant increase in altitude has resulted in the creation of diverse habitats. In fact, the park is home to 13 distinct ecosystems and protects one of the last stretches of Pacific old-growth wet forests in Central America. Among the different ecosystems are lowland rainforest, highland cloud forest, jolillo palm swamp, mangroves, prairie-forest, coastal forests, and even marine habitats.
The National Geographic Society called Costa Rica’s Corcovado National Park, “the most biologically intense place on earth in terms of biodiversity.” When considering its size, the Osa Peninsula is a grain of sand when compared to the world as a whole. However, the tiny peninsula sustains 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity.
Rare and endangered species call the park home. Many of which can be found nowhere else on earth. Among the more exotic and unusual creatures are the Harpy eagle, Baird’s tapir, northern tamandua, two- and three-toed sloths, collared peccaries, silky anteaters, poisoned dart frogs, agoutis, and countless others.
All four or Costa Rica’s transitory sea turtle species visit Corcovado’s sandy shores annually, including the Green, Hawksbill, Ridley, and Leatherback. All four of Costa Rica’s monkey species can also be found. These include the rare red-backed squirrel monkey, white-faced capuchin, mantled howlers, and Geoffrey’s spider monkeys. All six of the country’s feline species stalk the forest floor as well.
In all, the Corcovado Park harbors approximately 140 mammal species, 400 bird species, 40 species of frogs, 28 species of lizards, and over 10,000 insect species, including at least 100 types of butterflies. The raucous Scarlet Macaws are also abundant. Their calls and hoots dominating the jungle’s already impressive symphony of insect and birdsong.
The coastal and marine habitats within the park’s boundaries are home to over 20% of Costa Rica’s marine species. Hammerhead and bull sharks are prolific as are bottlenose and spotted dolphins and myriad other fascinating creatures. Humpback whales are seasonal residents of the region. Taking advantage of the warm, nutrient-rich waters to feed and raise their young.
Marine and tropical biologists, ecologists, ornithologists, and environmentalists flock to the peninsula to witness first-hand the wildlife and habitats found nowhere else on earth.
Around Corcovado National Park – Hotels and Activities
There are lots of options for visitors unable or uninterested in hiking the park. A visit to the Osa Wildlife Sanctuary is a good way to see, and sometimes even touch, an amazing variety of species from the region. Spending a rainy afternoon on a Chocolate Tour is another opportunity to experience the local culture.
The area is equally famous for its excellent surfing, dolphin and whale watching cruises, sports fishing, kayaking, and snorkeling or scuba diving.
Hotels around the park range from backpacker hostels to five-star eco-resorts hidden deep within private nature reserves or accessible only by boat. Fortunately, the region caters to rich and poor alike. The only prerequisite for a visit to Corcovado National Park is a passion for adventure and a love for nature.