Corcovado National Park Costa Rica is located in the Osa Peninsula and is considered to be among the best places in Central America for observing wildlife in their natural environment.
The famous National Geographic magazine ranked Corcovado Costa Rica as “the most biologically intense place on Earth” and is the best place to go if you are passionate about nature and wildlife.
The park was founded in 1975 with the main purpose of stopping the extension of gold mining operations from the area.
The park covers a total surface of 425 square kilometres (165 square miles) and is one of the best places to spot animals in their natural environment.
Inside Corcovado Park in Costa Rica, you can find one of the last remains of the wet forests from the Pacific coast of Central America.
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This national park is home to more than 10 ecosystems out of which the most interesting ones are: highland cloud forest, mangrove swamps, beaches, lowland rain forest, palm forest and coastline.
Corcovado National Park hiking trails meander across the park and gives you the unique opportunity to observe the rich fauna and flora of the place.
Jaguars, Baird’s tapirs, spider monkeys, harpy eagles, squirrel monkeys, white-faced capuchin monkey, ocelots, sloths, collared peccary, Scarlet Macaws, mantled howler monkeys and many other incredible animals call this park home for many centuries.
Getting to Corcovado National Park Costa Rica
There are two main gateways to the park and these are Puerto Jimenez and Drake Bay and you can reach these communities by air, by land with a car or a bus or by water with a boat.
There are several flights per day operated by SANSA airline to Puerto Jimenez, Golfito and Drake Bay and private flights that take you directly to the park.
The prices for flight tickets start from 80 USD and can go up to a few hundred or even more if we are talking about private planes.
You have to follow the Pan American Highway from the capital city of San Jose and pass over Cartago, Cerro de la Muerte, San Isidro el General and after about 3 and a half hours you reach Route 245.
Drive along Route 245 for another 2 hours and you will reach Puerto Jimenez.
The total distance between Corcovado Park and San Jose is about 380 kilometres and you’ll need about 7 hours to get from one point to another.
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There are daily departures from San Jose to Puerto Jimenez but you have to check for the bus scheduler before planning your trip.
Normally there must be a bus that leaves early in the morning from San Jose and arrives in the afternoon in Puerto Jimenez.
The ride lasts for about 10 hours and the bus number is 699 Puerto Jimenez Express ( if I remember correctly).
And there is another bus that leaves from San Jose to Golfito and the bus journey lasts for about 8 hours; to get to Puerto Jimenez you still need to take the ferry.
Daily boats from Golfito to Puerto Jimenez transport passengers from one point to another on a 30 minutes journey.
Visiting Corcovado National Park Costa Rica
Corcovado Costa Rica is open for day trips but also overnight visits, but all visitors must be accompanied by a certified guide.
The administrative headquarter of this costa rican park is located east of Puerto Jimenez, in the vicinity of the landing strip specially designated for quick park access.
Corcovado Ranger stations
There are 5 ranger stations for Corcovado park, 4 located inside the park: La Leona, Sirena, Los Patos and San Pedrillo and one at the border of the park.
While Los Patos, San Pedrillo and La Leona are located at the edge of the park, Sirena is right in the heart of the jungle, connected by La Leona and Los Patos via walking trails.
Sirena Ranger Station is located 14 kilometres (9 miles) west along the golden strip of sand from the park.
The place is surrounded by Costa Rica rainforest and is one of the best places from the entire park to spot the local fauna.
At this ranger station, there is an old bunker newly refurbished where you can spend your night, but only if you reserve your place well in advance.
The airport strip near Sirena is used mainly for private flights and charters, mostly from San Jose International airport.
San Pedrillo Station
San Pedrillo Station is a great place to visit if you are passionate about flora and hiking in this national park gives you the unique chance to see unique species of plants, extremely old trees ( some of them having a few hundred years).
San Pedrillo is famous for being the best place to spot pumas from Corcovado National Park Costa Rica, so you might be lucky and see this elusive animal on your tour to the park.
San Pedrillo station is connected with Sirena with a 24 kilometres (15 miles) trail that goes mostly along the beach.
In San Pedrillo camping you will find showers and beds available upon prior reservation, but you also can choose to sleep in Drake Bay, which is just 20 kilometres (12 miles) away from San Pedrillo ranger station.
La Leona Ranger Station
This ranger station does not have as many hiking trails as San Pedrillo or Sirena, but it is a good place to go if you want to explore the forest area and go further from the beach.
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Los Patos ranger station
Los Patos is the only station that offers overnight or multi-day trekking experiences and is reachable from Sirena station after a 9 hours hike.
You can also get to this ranger station from La Palma village from Puerto Jiménez and this place offers high chances to spot wildlife in their natural environment.
There are plenty of trails around the area going across the montane tropical forest and the cloud forest as well.
El Tigre Trail
Considered by some as the 5th ranger station from Corcovado Park Costa Rica, El Tigre Trail starts from outside the park and has a total length of 8 kilometres with a very steep hike in the first part of it.
This trail is the best to follow if you want to discover the small and unknown world of insects, frogs and snakes.
Best time to visit Corcovado Costa Rica
The dry season that lasts from December to April is the best time to explore this national park in Costa Rica.
The wettest months of the year are September and October, a very hard period when some of the hotels and guesthouses from the Osa Peninsula are closed because of the high rainfall during the rainy season.
What to pack for your hiking in Corcovado National Park
You definitely have to pack at least the following items: hiking shoes and water shoes, a few bottles of water, bathing suit, waterproof jacket, sun cream, dry bag, shirt, hat, binoculars, camera and quick-drying pants.
Beware if you choose to arrive in the park through Sirena station and pack an extra pair of shoes as you will land from the boat into the water and you will need to change your shoes before starting the hike.
Safety measures at Corcovado Park
As the jungle is very dense and there are many rivers to cross you might easily get lost in these forests.
To get out safe from this untamed forest you have to follow these rules:
- Stay in a group
- Keep the hiking path
- Listen to your guide and follow his advice
- Pay respect to the environment and don’t touch plants and wild creatures
Those of you interested in exploring and hiking in Corcovado National Park Costa Rica may choose to sleep in the campings located inside the park or in the vicinity of the park in Drake Bay or Puerto Jimenez.
I just want to remind you that from Drake Bay you can easily get to Sirena Station and San Pedrillo Station, while from Puerto Jimenez you get to La Leona Station.
As sleeping inside the protected area needs proper planning and reservations made long before the trip, the two communities located in the vicinity of the park are great solutions for your overnight stay.
That is why we recommend the following places to sleep outside the parking area:
- Corcovado Beach Lodge with clean and comfy rooms and private terraces nestled in the middle of nature
- Corcovado Beach Lodge for a premium experience on a 4-star hotel hidden in the jungle with a beautiful outside pool and great restaurant