Where we saw 3 monkey species, a garlic tree, and swam in a waterfall

We traveled to many of the U.S. National Parks for their magnificent scenery.  If we think all national parks are alike, consider Corcovado National Park, located on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica, and compare it to Everglades National Park in Florida.  Even though the Everglades is 15 times larger than Corcovado, Corcovado has many more species. The Everglades has 68 species of amphibians and reptiles versus 117 in Corcovado;

40 animal species are found in the Everglades versus 140 species in Corcovado (like the agouti in the photo image)

120 species of trees are found in the Everglades  – versus 500 species of trees  in Corcovado (like the garlic tree in the photo, named after its garlic-scented flowers and bark).

According to Wikipedia, “Corcovado houses 3% of the world’s biodiversity. Two decades ago the National Geographic Society defined it as the most biologically intense place in the world.”

What more did we need to know?  Visiting Corcovado was first on our list of things to do in the Osa Peninsula with our grandsons, cousins 10 and 11 years old, in tow.

One of the reasons Corcovado is so rich in biodiversity is that it’s quite remote.  The only way to get there is by air or boat.  Since the park is a protected area, visitors must be accompanied by a guide.

We traveled to Corcovado National Park in a small motorboat from La Paloma Lodge with our guide.  There is no dock at the San Pedrillo ranger station.   The boat came in as close as it could to the beach. We took off our shoes, rolled up our pant legs, and climbed into the surf to walk up to the beach.

The hike started as we waded across the mouth of a small river and into the forests.

Our guide pointed to overarching leaves we would pass under.  He carefully took the leaves and held them up to see something clinging to the underside.  Fruit bats!  We would have walked right into them!

The boys were fascinated by more coconut shells than they’d ever seen, especially the ones sprouting.

In the forest, there was so much to hear (many different species of birds and monkeys calling), so much to be aware of (don’t touch poisonous plants), watch your step (having heard about one guide’s near-death experience being bitten by a snake) ….

…and so many new things to see, like these brilliantly colored lichens.

Howler monkeys moved across trees far up in the canopy, an owl butterfly graced a nearby tree, a green kingfisher flew as we came down the path.  We observed scat on the path from a puma.  A blue morpho butterfly fluttered nearby.

After coming out of the forest, our grandsons took a few moments on the beach to just rest.

In the afternoon, we hiked uphill on a muddy path overlooking crocodiles resting at the river’s edge. (Better not slip, we told ourselves!)  We forded a river and not long after came to a waterfall.

The grandsons were very excited when we hiked back to a small cascade where they would be able to swim.

By the end of the day, we had seen 3 of the 4 monkey species in Costa Rica: the white faced capuchin, howling, and spider monkeys.  We had seen the very large garlic tree (Caryocar costaricense) – one of the “rare, endemic and threatened trees of the Osa Peninsula”.   And the grandchildren had played in the waterfall.

We were all excited by how much we had seen, but we know that what we experienced is such a small part of what is possible in amazing Corcavado. When can we go back?


December 2019

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
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3 Responses to Where we saw 3 monkey species, a garlic tree, and swam in a waterfall

  1. Scat from a puma!! That sounds a bit close for comfort. How exciting to see so many different animals.

    • I used to discount pumas as a real threat but heard that a small child was saved by the fast action of her father a few days before our visit when threatened by a puma on the path we had hiked. We heard from several people bitten by poisonous snakes and spiders who were quite ill. The moral for us was to be vigilant as we hiked (and hope our guide was even more vigilant!).

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