Corcovado Is The Crown Jewel of National Parks

Corcovado National Park is located on the Osa Peninsula in southwestern Costa Rica and, as the largest national park, it protects approximately one third of the peninsula. It is one of the most complex freshwater and saltwater ecosystems in the world. There are at least thirteen distinct vegetation types identified within the park boundaries that provide habitat for a staggering list of animal species. Corcovado has 429 square kilometers under protection but also forms part of the larger Osa Conservation Area. National Geographic famously labeled it “the most biologically intense place on the planet.” The Corcovado National Park is divided in six sectors: Leona, Sirena, Patos, San Pedrillo, Los Planes and El Tigre. Recently, the Costa Rica Government introduced the new infrastructure of the park.

Golfo Duce of the Corcovado National Park

Park Improvements

With the purpose of increasing the tourism and improving the conditions for national and foreign tourists that visit Corcovado National Park, the Costa Rica Government inaugurated the new infrastructure at Corcovado on February 19th. $2.4 million dollars of the Sustainable Tourism program were invested. The work done includes mostly the construction of a visitor center in La Leona sector, new bathrooms, showers and improvements to the wastewater systems in three of the sectors, as well as resting and picnic areas. Electric generators were added to two of the sectors.

The Crown Jewel of the Costa Rica National Park System

Campers will enjoy the addition of kitchen and dining areas in the Sirena sector. The President noted that his administration contributed over 5 thousand million colones to improve the conditions for the park rangers. This money originated from donations of the Governments of Japan and the United States, and from the help of the Non-Governmental Organizations and investment of the Costa Rica Government.

Nature Lover’s Dream

Home to all four of the country’s monkey species- howler, white faced capuchin, squirrel and spider – Corcovado National Park is also the perfect habitat for the wildcat. You can find jaguars, ocelots, margay, jaguarundi and puma here as well as over 390 species of birds. It is believed to have the largest concentration of colorful scarlet macaws in Central America. Finally, over 40 species of frogs, dozens of snakes and lizards, more than 100 species of butterflies add to the reasons why Corcovado National Park is a nature lover’s paradise.

Jaguars make their home at Corcovado

HIKING AROUND AND CAMPING

Corcovado is also a hiking aficionado’s dream destination. As its number one activity, the park now has six rangers stations, each with its own set of trails. Due to its size and remoteness, many visitors decide to stay and explore over several days. Camping is permitted and you may want to take 2 – 3 days to get from one side of the park to another. It is possible, however, to enter and hike on day trips. You can book a tour with a lodge on the Osa Peninsula, Drake Bay, or from a tour company in Puerto Jiménez. Take extreme caution when crossing or swimming river mouths in any area. Many rivers are home to crocodiles and at high tide some are visited by bull sharks. A certified guide is now required to enter or stay in Corcovado.  The park headquarters of Sirena Ranger Station is well staffed and the Park Service has an office in Puerto Jimenez that manages reservations. One day visits do not require reservations but they must be made in advance for camping accommodations.

Check out information about reservations and rates here. You may want to stay at Cabinas Jimenez in the middle of the jungle.

La Sirena Ranger Station

GETTING THERE

Corcovado is one of Costa Rica’s most remote parks. By foot and horseback the park can be reached from Drake Bay, Carate, and La Palma.  Boat access from Drake is supported at the San Pedrillo and Sirena ranger stations.  The grass air strip at Sirena Ranger station is open to receive charter or private flights with advance notice. The best time to visit the park is when it receives the least rainfall, from January to April. Park entrance is $6 per person per day. By bus or car, Corcovado National Park is approximately ten hours from San Jose. The park can be accessed by Puerto Jiménez by driving 27 miles (44 km) south along Highway 245. Purchase tours in advance through a travel service, the lodge where you have your reservation or in person from a local tour office. Stock up with essentials in advance at Puerto Jiménez if you plan to stay in the park overnight. With a number of access points for Corcovado, Puerto Jiménez in considered the main gateway. If  you don’t have a 4WD vehicle, you can hire private transportation to the park boundary from there. We think a great bet is making a reservation with a lodge and letting them help you with travel arrangements and suggested routes.