Corcovado National Park
Size: 41,788 hectares
Distance from San Jose: 335 kilometers
Dry season: January through March
The Corcovado National Park (54,500 ha.) is located near the port of “Puerto Jimenez”, across the Golfo Dulce Bay from Golfito. It offers 5 ranger stations which handle several services on account of the park’s remoteness. Park stations can assist with tent sites, food, helicopter services in emergencies and information. It is important to note that frequently one or another station will be closed.
There are several traveling routes through the jungle. All are long and take many hours to travel, but offer treks through the most deserted and pristine rainforest wilderness with spectacular displays of nature. Here there are 400 bird species from Scarlet Macaws to toucans to hummingbirds. The shores and estuaries offer the interesting chance of seeing hammerhead sharks, alligators and crocodiles. There are daily connecting boat services from Golfito to Puerto Jimenez.
The Corcovado National Park was created in 1975. At this time, the 300 farmers living in the area were compensated for their land relocated elsewhere. Until 1978, there was no access by land to the Peninsula and the population in the region was scarce. Since then, the park has been destined exclusively for conversation, scientific investigation, environmental education and an environmentally conscious tourism.
In Corcovado visitors can witness the unique combination of marine and land ecosystems. The area holds thousands of species of flora, many unique to the area and others which have disappeared from other regions.
Several of the animal species in Corcovado are in danger of extinction.
The guacamaya or red macaw; wild boar; jaguar and the crocodile are some of them. Among the many memories you can take with you, the perfect one is the community of scarlet macaws, flying over the treetops two at a time. These noisy birds aren’t too hard to see, as long as you keep your eyes open and learn to recognize their call. There are exotic nature trails, drinking water and camping areas.
The borders of the peninsula guard the beautiful beaches of Pan Dulce (Sweet Bread); Carate and Carbonara. The way to get to them is on a boat, and don’t forget your sun block, hat and insect repellent.
Protecting 41,788 hectares of shallow lagoons, marsh, mangrove swamps, rivers, wet forest and low-altitude cloud forest, as well as 46 kilometers of sandy beach, Corcovado is one of Central America’s most unique ecosystems, which is why naturalists from all over the world come to study its riches. Within its extensive territory, visitors can observe the rich biodiversity of the last virgin natural area in all of Central America. Some 6,000 insect, 500 tree, 367 bird, 140 mammal, 117 amphibian and reptile, and 40 freshwater fish species live here in coexistence.
The park has numerous hiking trails and rustic camping refuges. A guide is recommended. Less adventurous visitors can also enjoy the park on boat excursions or arrive by plane at the Sirena station. Visitors who keep their eyes open can see whales and macaws in Corcovado, as well as many other animals in danger of extinction. Visitor services include information, a park ranger station, trails, signage, restrooms, drinking water, a landing field, camping area, radio communication and rustic lodging.
Corcovado is one of the rainiest regions in the country with records of up to 5,500 mm. of rainfall on the highest peaks.
There are 500 species of trees in the entire park, which is a fourth of all the tree species that exist in Costa Rica.
In this park you will find the biggest tree in all the country, an enormous silk cotton tree that reaches a height of over 70 meters.
The wildlife in Corcovado is as abundant and varied as its plant life. The park protects several species that are in danger of extinction both in Costa Rica and in the greater part of the American tropics, such as large felines and reptiles.
The park is also the home of several bird species that are either endemic or of limited range. In general it is known that there are 140 species of mammals, 367 of birds, 117 of amphibians and reptiles and 40 of freshwater fish, and it is estimated that approximately 6,000 insects live in the park, including the 123 butterflies discovered so far.
The herpetological fauna is not far behind in terms of variety and number. Studies carried out in the park have recorded 20 species of saurians, 33 of ophidians or snakes, 48 of toads and frogs, and 7 of turtles, besides salamanders, crocodiles and caimans. Three species of amphibians that are especially noteworthy are the glass frogs, which are so transparent that their internal organs can be seen through their skin, and the poison dart frog (endemic specie of Costa Rica)
One of the biggest problems that this park faces is the entrance of illegal miners who sneak into southern and southeastern sectors where they look for gold, this prized metal is found in rivers and their banks.
The Llorona beach is a frequently used nesting site for marine turtles: olive ridley turtle, leatherback turtle, green turtle and hawksbill turtles.
Main habitats found in the park: montane forest, cloud forest, alluvial plains forest, swamp forest, holillo forest, freshwater herbaceous swamp, mangrove swamp, and rocky and sandy vegetation.
Trees found here: purple heart, poponjoche, nargusta, banak, cow tree, espave, and crab wood.
Birds found here: scarlet macaw (here is located the biggest group), king vulture, white hawk, short-billed pigeon, tovi parakeet, bronze-tailed sicklebill, keel-billed toucan, prevost cacique, plush tanager, great tinamou, Mexican tiger-bittern, and northern jacana, harpy eagle.
Animals found here: tapir (endangered species), jaguar (endangered species), cougar (endangered species), ocelot (endangered species), giant anteater (endangered species), white-lipped peccaries, howler monkey, white-faced capuchin monkey, spider monkey, and squirrel monkey, American crocodile (endangered species).