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Corcovado National Park wildlife adventure

If you have been following my Instagram feed, you have already seen the best of my Corcovado National Park wildlife adventure. National Geographic called the park the most biologically intense place on the planet. This tidbit has been echoed on just about every blog post and article to the point of cliche. It is one that fits. I would call Corcovado the best wildlife adventure in the Western Hemisphere that I have experienced. I have not been to Yellowstone or Brazil’s Pantanal, but I will soon in order to compare.

Northern tamandua Corcovado

An anteater photographed with my iPhone through our guide’s telescope – This anteater is also called a Mexican anteater or a Northern tamandua

Corcovado experience is not cheap

There are two problems with experiencing a Corcovado adventure. It is not cheap. Many travelers do not want to pony up the $120.00-$150.00 a day per person guide fee. There are also fees to enter and stay in the park. You cannot enter Corcovado on your own, so a guide is required.

Corcovado hawk

Hawk in flight while hiking into Sirena Station from Carate

I met several people outside the park that did not want to pay the hefty Corcovado guide fees and instead hiked at Bolita right outside of the park. Their argument was that animals do not know borders; however, I must refute that ascertain. Animals are acutely aware of borders because civilization lies on those borders as do people who hunt them. Corcovado has been protected since 1975. The animals living inside the park have never known fear of man. For this reason, trekking deep inside the park greatly augments your chance to not only see amazing wildlife, but see it close up. Sure you have the chance to see tapirs and pumas outside the park, but the chances increase tenfold if you hike into Sirena Station with a guide.

Carate scarlet macaws

Scarlet macaw feeding on dates at Carate

Corcovado is not easy

The other issue with a Corcovado trip is the heat and the tough hike in and out of the park. To really maximize the potential to see wildlife, you need to hike to Sirena Station and stay several days. You can fly into the park, but that will add another $80.00 per person per trip, and you will miss the opportunity of seeing wildlife on the hike into the park. When we hiked into Corcovado, the temperature soared to over 100 degrees and 100 percent humidity. It reminded me of my grueling hike in Big Bend National Park, but Corcovado was even hotter and more humid.

Corcovado hike

Just looking at this picture from our hike in makes me break into a sweat

The experience is worth it

If you can handle the price, the heat, and the humidity, then you will be rewarded with an incredible wildlife adventure. This is the second time I have been to Corcovado, and I would come back again in a heartbeat. I have never been to a place where there is such a great opportunity to see such beautiful wildlife so up close.  Every time we saw a monkey, an anteater, a trogon, the uncomfortable heat became a second thought as we focused on taking pictures of what was in front of us.

Pale-billed woodpecker

While trying to find a puma we came across a pale-billed woodpecker, then a spider monkey, and then an anteater in quick succession. The heat was a second thought during this exciting episode.

Last Corcovado trip set me up for a good experience this time

I last visited the Osa Peninsula in 2012. I unfortunately was referred to the worst guide in the Osa Peninsula. Click on the link below to read about my negative experience. After my guide deserted me, I ran into Nito, along one of the trails. Nito saw I was solo. He was guiding a group, but he pointed me in the direction of wildlife they had just seen. I was immediately impressed with his passion for the park and just how nice he was. After this brief encounter, I spoke with him again at Sirena Station. We kept in touch, so I reached out to him immediately when I planned a return to the Osa Peninsula in Corcovado.

Related: Osa Travel with Felix Menocal, a cautionary tale

Hawk Corcovado

Hawk perched on a dead log on the hike into Sirena

Booked with Surcors Tours

Unfortunately, he was not available to guide when I planned to come. I was disappointed; however, he referred me to his company, and I reached out to Surcors Tours. I told them I was looking to join a small group where I could perhaps save a bit of money instead of reserving a guide just for myself. They replied back in a couple of days letting me know that a couple from Israel and a solo traveler from the Netherlands agreed to let me join their group. This turned out to be great because we really bonded on the trip, and our fitness and adventure level matched perfectly.

Corcovado National Park

Our group with our guide Oscar at the end of our Corcovado National Park wildlife adventure

We were led by Oscar. He was the nicest guy, and a great guide. He was aware of my previous bad experience in the park and went out of his way to show me that my last guide was an anomaly. After seeing many other guides and the way they interacted with their guests on this trip and also never having a bad experience with a guide before or since except my last Corcovado trip, I now realize I was just unlucky that time.

Corcovado National Park wildlife adventure

Corcovado National Park wildlife adventure – Group of brown pelicans along the coast on the way to Sirena Station

Corcovado wildlife

The highlight of any trek into Corcovado National Park is seeing the endangered Baird’s tapir at Sirena Station. You are almost guaranteed to see them. We saw eight in the three days we were in the park. We saw one the moment we arrived to the station feeding along the edge of the jungle. The next morning we saw a mother and her baby crossing the river. We also saw a mother and a baby crossing the river as we were hiking out on the last day.

Baird's Tapir crossing river

A mother and a baby Baird’s tapir crossing spotted on the way back to Carate about a kilometer from Sirena Station

Other highlights included an anteater, three types of monkeys, several kinds of trogons, tons of scarlet macaws, toucans, currosows, coatis, peccaries, caiman, crocodiles, sloths, woodpeckers, pelicans, agoutis, hawks, caracaras, tiger herons, oystercatchers, and I could go on and on.

black-throated trogon

black-throated trogon through an iPhone and a Surcors Tours telescope

frigate bird flight

Frigate bird in flight over the beach while hiking into Sirena

One great advantage of having a guide included the opportunity to take photographs with an iPhone through their telescope. Some of these photos are taken with an iPhone through the telescope and others are taken with a Sony A6000. I have noted the iPhone pictures in the caption.

Corcovado National Park wildlife adventure

birds

Scarlet Macaw Corcovado

Scarlet macaw perched in the Corcovado rainforest

Black-throated Trogon Corcovado

Corcovado National Park wildlife adventure – black-throated trogon

Common black hawk Corcovado

Common black hawk was quite common here

Tiger heron Corcovado

Tiger heron near Sirena Station

American oystercatcher Corcovado

American oystercatcher near Sirena Station

Sandpipers Corcovado

Sandpipers along the shore near Sirena Station

Male great currosow Corcovado

Corcovado National Park wildlife adventure – Male great currosow

Whimbrels Costa Rica

Whimbrels with the curved bills along the shore near Sirena Station

Black Hawk nest Corcovado

A common black hawk nest with chick along the coast at Corcovado National Park – Photo taken through telescope and iPhone

Corcovado National Park

Corcovado National Park wildlife adventure – Slaty-tailed trogon through a telescope and iPhone

Toucan Corcovado

Chestnut-mandibled toucan taken through a telescope and an iPhone

Tropical screech owl Corcovado

These tropical screech owls were spotted even before our Corcovado National Park wildlife adventure even began – Our guides spotted them on a tree on the way into the park

Tropical Screech owl Corcovado

Tropical screech owls waking up

mammals

Sirena Station peccaries

A herd of peccaries playing right at the edge of the jungle visible from Sirena Station

Corcovado National Park

Have you seen the little piggy because he has seen you

spider monkeys Corcovado

Corcovado National Park wildlife adventure – Two spider monkeys hanging upside down

Baird's tapir

Photographing this Baird’s tapir at Sirena Station proved elusive. After this picture he raised his head up and took off into the jungle. This photo is taken with zoom. I kept an appropriate distance.

Sirena Station Baird's tapir crossing

Another shot of the Baird’s tapir and baby crossing near Sirena Station

Corcovado National Park sloths

Corcovado National Park wildlife adventure – Mother and baby sloth in the jungle only steps away from Sirena Station

Baby sloth Corcovado

Mother and baby sloth taken through telescope and iPhone

Three-toed sloth Corcovado

A close up of mom through a telescope and iPhone

Coati Corcovado

Coati climbing a tree as we approach Carate in Corcovado National Park

Anteater Corcovado Costa Rica

Another shot of the anteater through a telescope and an iPhone

Howler monkey

Howler monkey chilling out

other

Halloween crabs Corcovado

Halloween Crabs are everywhere along the beach

Wandering spider Costa Rica

Wandering spider hiding in a leaf along the beach

Corcovado lizard

Lizard Corcovado

Tarantula

A barely alive tarantula near Sirena Station

Caiman corcovado

Caiman in a pool near Sirena Station

Corcovado National Park

Another shot of the small caiman through a telescope and iPhone

I definitely recommend Surcors Tours. Check out their website here.

Adventure on!

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6 Responses to Corcovado National Park wildlife adventure

  1. Vidyut Rautela June 16, 2017 at 3:42 am #

    You had me at the anteater … He is so cutttte!!! I had no idea about Corcovado, your post highlighted the place for me. And yeah it seems worth its high fees.

    • Traveling Ted July 6, 2017 at 5:16 pm #

      Thank you Vidyut,

      I definitely would return despite the high costs.

      Ted

  2. Agness of eTramping October 22, 2017 at 8:01 pm #

    This national park is so picturesque and the wildlife there is so awe-inspiring! Is a day trip enough to explore it?

    • Traveling Ted October 30, 2017 at 12:00 am #

      Thanks Agness,

      Since it takes two full days to get there and another day to get anywhere else, I would recommend staying for two-three days. You could still have a great time in one day, but you would not be able to see as much.

  3. Debbra Dunning Brouillette November 8, 2017 at 1:56 pm #

    Costa Rica is on my list! I’d love to see all the wildlife. I usually don’t mind heat but 100 degrees with 100% humidity sounds a bit much. Are there cooler times of year to visit?
    Debbra Dunning Brouillette recently posted..Memphis beyond Graceland: Sun Studio

    • Traveling Ted November 8, 2017 at 4:11 pm #

      Hello Debbra,

      It is always pretty hot and humid in the Osa Peninsula, but it does spike a little in April (when I visited). November is the coolest month, but it is a little rainy. If you want to visit this part of the world and heat is an issue, I would make sure you stay at places with good a/c, a swimming pool, and do not hike into Sirena. You can take a boat to Sirena Station from Drake Bay instead of hiking in.

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