Corcovado National Park is a national park on Osa Peninsul and it’s Costa Rica’s largest NP. National Geographic named the National Park “One of the most biologically intense places on earth in terms of biodiversity”. The park conserves the larges primary forest on the American Pacific coastline and one of the few remaining sizable areas of lowland tropical rainforests in the world, and 13 major ecosystems including highland cloud forest, jolillo palm forest and mangrove swamps, as well as coastal marine and beach habitats which support a spectacular variety of wildlife. In Corcovado it’s a chance of spotting some of Costa Rica’s shyest and most endangered inhabitants here; Baird’s Tapirs, Jaguars, Harpy Eagles, Scarlet Macaws, White-lipped Peccaries and Red-Backed Squirrel Monkeys.
It is wet, remote and rugged…
When I was doing research, reading about Costa Rica and the places recommended to visit I knew we had to visit this National Park. In this post I wished I could tell you all about the beautiful nature we were surrounded by, the great hikes we had and about the endangered species we saw. How cool wouldn’t it be to tell you about that time we were floating down the river and spotted a shy jaguar, or the time we walked on the beach and got to see a tapir… Unfortunately we can’t, as not everything turned out the way we wanted it to.
Pics without our own watermark are borrowed from Pacheco with permission
We arrived Sierpe safe and well and in good time to get on the early boat out to Drake. We stopped by the restaurant Don Jorge, unloaded the car and then I sat in the restaurant to watch our bags while Jon parked the car (it’s 6$ per day).
We were not the only ones waiting for the boat! There are several boats leaving from Sierpe, but the captains are walking around and asking about where you are heading. They let you know when it’s time for the boat to leave and guide you to the right one. The bags you don’t need to have with you during the bout trip are left in a dry place in the front of the boat (at least that was how it was on our boat). The boat has a roof, but in case of bad weather you should bring a poncho and waterproof cover for your bag, because you will get wet! You pay for the boat taxi onboard to the captain. It’s 15$ p.p for the early boat and 20$ p.p for the late, and there are only two departures during the day (leaving Sierpe 11:30am and 3:30pm).
The first part of the boat tour is easy and calm ride down the river, but as fast as they reach the ocean it gets a bit rough. But these guys know how to handle the boat and steer their way through the riptides. The trip to Drake takes about an hour, and when arriving you should be prepared to jump into the water; take of your shoes or wear sandals/flip flops, and shorts is also a good idea.
First they want everyone to get out of the boat and up on the beach, then they unload the baggage (they’ll bring it to you on the beach). At this point Alvaro Pacheco met us and he helped us with our bags up to the cabin we were staying. Pacheco Cabins are situated just 200m from the beach with a great view overlooking the bay. We had upgraded to a Deluxe Cabin with AC, and the price was 50$ a night.
It had been raining for a few days before we arrived, but when we got there it was a short pause. Immediately right after we closed the door into our room it started to pour down, and it never stopped (until we left a couple of days later). During our first night the power went out, the next morning our full-day tour in Corcovado NP was cancelled due to the weather, and the same evening we were supposed to go on a night walk, which was cancelled too. At this point we knew that it was no chance to go on the floating tour on our last day so we tried to get the National Park tour, but it was still raining. 3 out of 3 tours got cancelled and we decided to take the early boat back (07:30am) instead of waiting for the late one (2:30pm).
(The prices are the same; 15$ for the first departure and 20$ for the last).
We felt so bad for the companies depending on the tourists because everything was cancelled and they didn’t earn anything. It was some rough days for them out there without power, and now one knew when it would come back. We were happy to let known that everything was (almost) back to normal a couple of days later – they haven’t been able to visit the national park that much the last couple of weeks though.
Of course we were disappointed with the way it turned out. We were really looking forward to visit this place and to see its wildlife and beautiful nature. But there’s nothing to do about that, and that only means we have to go back to Costa Rica later 😉
We booked everything through Erick Pacheco, and he has been the best! When planning the trip we had lots of questions and also asked about recommendations; tours, where to go etc. and Erick always replied back quickly. He was very helpful and also surprised us a couple of days after we came back from Drake; he wanted to give us a refund, as he felt bad for us. Alvaro, Erick’s brother was also helpful and kind to us. He helped us out with everything, recommended where to eat dinner and made sure we had what we needed. Even when the power went out he managed to get us Wi-Fi! Carlos, Erick and Alvaro’s father also came by; he wanted to ask if we would go on a guided tour in Drake. Erick told me that his father had been in Drake for 30 years and he is one of the oldest guides in the area. And that he started working in Drake Bay with the first hotel out there.
Alex, the captain on the boat really took his time on the way back from Drake to Sierpe, in our favor; he spotted animals and stopped the boat so we all could see at least some animals during our trip. We saw several crocodiles and a pack of Squirrel Monkeys jumping around, and that was awesome! Unfortunately was all our camera equipment packed away to survive the rain.
Activities and Tours
I think the tours we had planned would have given us a bit of everything in such a short time. The National Park tour to Sirena Station would give us nature, wildlife, and hopefully the chance to spot some rare animals. It’s a full day tour starting at 6am and finished around 2-2:30pm.
The floating tour takes you on a hike in the forest visiting waterfalls, and you’re floating down the river only wearing a life west. Sounds really fun! The night walk is a good idea if you want to see the animals active during nighttime.
From the floating tour
Another trip we also wanted to take but couldn’t because of the season, was the platform tour. That one starts in the evening and your bed is on a platform in the middle of the forest where you’ll spend the night. The floating tour is also included in this one, so the next morning you wake up only surrounded by Mother Nature and should be ready for some activity filled hours.
Other options are horseback tours on the beach, snorkeling and diving tours to Caño Island, Whale and Dolphin watching tour and overnight tours. They all sounds like something we would love, but we didn’t prioritize them as we already had done similar trips in other destinations in Costa Rica. We had the horseback tour into Nauyaca Waterfalls, and snorkeling day trip to Caño Island leaving from Uvita, but when we’re revisiting we might book more tours and stay for a few more days, and we’ll stay at the same place as we were so satisfied, and the location was perfect with its view. Just imagine sitting on the balcony over watching the sunset… That sounds picturesque and something we want to experience!
The view from our balcony
Although we didn’t get the experience we were looking for we hope you got tempted to visit Drake and Corcovado National Park.
Corcovado, we’ll meet again, and hopefully then we’ll have lots of pictures to show and many stories to tell 🙂
A certified guide is now required to enter or stay in Corcovado.