Jaguars, tapirs, macaws and other wildlife are the top reasons this wild peninsula is one of the best
|Trekking & Hiking||Surfing||Wildlife|
|Remote Eco-Lodges||Birdwatching||SCUBA & Snorkeling|
The wilds of the Osa include one of the top ten national parks in Costa Rica and maybe the world
Corcovado National Park Wildlife Watching
The wilderness in the heart of the Osa peninsula protected by Corcovado national park has been called one of the most biologically intense places on earth. We recently had the good fortune to once again trek across the peninsula, then charter a small plane to cross over the park. The fifteen minute flight just confirmed what we experienced on foot; there’s nothing but virgin rainforest in every direction.
Wildlife that’s only a rumor elsewhere is abundant on the Osa – scarlet Macaws, Tapirs and Jaguars live relatively undisturbed in Corcovado. Visitors can walk two kilometers along a beach and when they turn and look back the only footprints are their own unless a peccary has followed.
If you aren’t excited by the idea of camping in the rainforest small communities like Drake, Carate and Dos Brazos serve as gateways for day trips on foot or by boat, and a number of eco-lodges are scattered in private reserves around the perimeter of the park.
Trekking, Camping & Hiking
The most popular trek in Costa Rica crosses the Osa Peninsula from La Palma (or however far your 4WD will make it up the riverbed) east through Los Patos station to La Sirena on the beach then west along the beach to Madrigal and finally Carate where the 4WD road from Puerto Jiménez dead ends. Camping is permitted at the ranger stations or (at Sirena) there are bunks in sheds.
Hundreds of times less popular but every bit as beautiful is the crossing further south from Dos Brazos del Rio Tigre to Piedras Blancas and down to Carate on the sendero de oro. There are other even less traveled trails, but generally they require special permissions and guides from the park service.
Dozens of other trails set out into the forest or along the beaches for day hikes or birding walks. Some of the private ones are quite well maintained.
Black and green poison arrow frog (Dendrobates auratus) hunting for ants and termites on a log at the mirador above La Leona on the Osa Peninsula. The frog’s toxicity comes from their diet and most lose their poison in captivity.
Caño Island Biological Reserve
Off the northern coast of the Osa Peninsula Isla del Caño biological reserve protects much the same sort of forest as Corcovado and there are a couple of excellent trails across the island but the real attraction is snorkeling and diving. The trails and beaches had been closed to visitors for several years due to infrastructure problems but had re-opened when we visited in January 2016.
An incredible bonus when visiting Isla del Caño is the possibility of seeing Humpback whales and the likelihood of seeing other marine mammals like spinner dolphins on the boat ride there or back. Special whale watching tours also operate in the same waters if you’re not interested in snorkeling or diving.
What is Not on the Osa Peninsula
It takes significant effort to get to the Osa and to avoid disappointment it’s worthwhile looking over our page on what not to expect when you get there.