Monkeys, Iguanas and Crocs…
Take a journey into Costa Rica’s rainforest and meet the many creatures who call the jungle home: monkeys, anteaters and … a smiling crocodile.
Corcovado National Park is one of the largest and most pristine national parks in Costa Rica and the reason most travellers, including myself, make the trek to the remote Osa Peninsula.
It’s worth the trip. Corcovado doesn’t disappoint: the range of animals that can be spotted on a guided tour of the park is more diverse than in other parts of the country. I hiked the same trails on two separate days and saw entirely different animals both times! Yes, I did two day trips to Corcovado – at a whopping $95 USD each – because I enjoyed it so much. It was worth every penny.
Like most tourists in the area, I was based in Drake Bay, about an hour’s boat ride from the park’s main ranger station, Sirena. When our group of about 16 tourists arrived, we split into two smaller groups. I had fun following our naturalist guide, Javier, as he poked around the trails on either side of the station. Occasionally, we’d stop to dig into our lunch bags, which were filled with a generous amount of sandwiches, boiled eggs, fruit and cookies. Back on the trails, Javier would hear, see or even smell animals in the distance; sometimes he’d disappear into the jungle before asking us to tag along off-trail.
Though we saw other animals, like great horned owls and an endangered Baird’s tapir, my first day at Sirena was about monkeys, monkeys and more monkeys. Corcovado is the only place in Costa Rica where you can find all four native species: white faced, howler, squirrel and spider. We saw loads of howler, spider and squirrel monkeys along on the trails, but if there’s one thing I remember about that day, it’s not the sights of all those monkeys, but the eerie cries of the howlers echoing through the rainforest, sounding like dogs barking.
When I went back to Sirena a few days later, I saw totally different animals including: an anteater, a blue iguana, a herd of peccaries (wild pigs), deer, herons, egrets and a huge crocodile. I was so excited to see that croc sitting on the opposite side of the river, I sat on the bank watching for 10 minutes. But as he opened up his enormous jaws, it occurred to me that perhaps I shouldn’t be sitting so close to the water’s edge!
Although I later did tours in other parks throughout Costa Rica, trekking the muddy trails of lush Corcovado – and getting up close to those exotic animals – was by far my most authentic jungle experience. I’d go back in an instant!
This is Part 2 of a 3-part special series on the natural world of Costa Rica.
Read Part 1: Answering the call of the wild in Costa Rica
Read Part 3: The deep blue sea