Tips for Hiking in Corcovado National Park

Located on the remote Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica, Corcovado National Park has been designated by National Geographic as “the most biologically intense place on earth in terms of biodiversity”.”At 164 square miles, it is Costa Rica’s largest national park, the largest primary forest on the U.S. Pacific coast, and one of the few large areas of tropical lowland forests in the world.

It is also one of the most pristine nature reserves we have ever visited. Corcovado offers an impressive variety of ecosystems ranging from mountain forest and cloud forest to grasslands and mangrove swamps. The park is home to more than 500 species of trees and a dizzying variety of Costa Rican animals, including the endangered Tapir Baird, the rare harpy eagle, the Jaguar, the Puma and four species of monkeys.


As our Nature Air flight heads southeast from San Jose towards the small town of Palmar Sur, I can already feel the Stress shrug my shoulders. It’s like taking off dirty work clothes and taking a hot shower at the end of a long day. We pass by isolated mountain villages, winding rivers and finally the Pacific Ocean. All thoughts about deadlines and other responsibilities disappear from my head. My breathing slows down, my body relaxes and I begin to notice all the beautiful details. I see clouds of cotton fluff caressing a green hill, the bright colors of the water where the river meets the sea, the immaculate symmetry of a palm plantation by the sea.


If you are not in a hurry, the most exciting way to get to Corcovado National Park is to fly to Palmar Sur Airport and drive to the town of Sierpe. There we met our new blogger friends Dan & Casey (from a cruise couple), our Guide Freddy and our boat captain Roberto, better known as “Eagle Eye.”


Long before the existence of the city of Sierpe, the Sierpe River was considered sacred by the natives of Costa Rica. They called it after the Spanish word for “snake” Because it winds through the Térraba River. The apprentices would climb seven mountain waterfalls to collect mushrooms from which they would make a hallucinogenic tea. Then they spent seven days drinking and fasting, and spent one night at each of the seven different Mouths of the river.


If we venture into the mangrove estuary from the vast expanse of the Main River, it is easy to understand why the aborigines believed that this enchanting region had magical and mystical properties. The forest canopy glows bright green, the knotty tangles of roots create stunning reflections on the smooth water surface. Here there is a silent silence and a subtle feeling of being observed by invisible things.


The capuchins frolicking on the shore escape my lens and the sky suddenly opens with an intense tropical tide that is rarely experienced outside the rainforest. Still, my mind feels lighter and more carefree than it has for months. And while we sit at the Lodge Bar – sipping a welcome drink, watching the hummingbirds and hearing the howler monkeys screaming in the distance – I know I’m finally home.

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