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Corcovado is like ‘Jungle Book’ without Tigers and Bears

Article presented courtesy of Karl Kahler, Tico Times | January 5, 2017

A young spider monkey spots a tourist at Corcovado National Park. Manuel Carranza/The Tico Times


CORCOVADO NATIONAL PARK, Puntarenas — Oops, I did it again. For the third time, with friends from the U.S. looking for the consummate Costa Rica experience, I lured them to Drake Bay for a boat trip to Corcovado National Park.

And once again, Corcovado lived up to its reputation as the wildest place in Costa Rica you can visit without bushwhacking through La Amistad International Peace Park in the southeast with a machete. The profusion of species we saw with our guide, Manuel Carranza, reminded me of Tarzan’s jungle, and then someone mentioned “The Jungle Book,” which also seemed appropriate.

We saw three of Costa Rica’s four species of monkeys (spider, squirrel and howler); not one but three tapirs, the country’s largest mammal besides whales; some fruit bats, the country’s most abundant mammal; a couple of three-toed sloths; an agouti; an anteater; a highly venomous snake, an eyelash pit viper; a highly venemous arachnid, the Brazilian wandering spider; a crocodile and some baby caimans; and of course lots of birds, including toucans, trogons and crested guans.

(Later, in town, we saw a bunch of white-faced monkeys, for the quadrifecta, and even a skunk, which luckily ignored us.)

I’ve always driven to Drake, which can be a bit harrowing, but this time I parked my car in Sierpe for $6 a day and took the boat down the Sierpe River for $20. My friends and I stayed at the superb but pricy Aguila de Osa and the adequate but more affordable Jinetes de Osa.

Enjoy these pictures, and book your own trip when you can.


A three-toed sloth chilling in the trees. Manuel Carranza/The Tico Times



I think this is a black-throated or yellow-bellied trogon, although if I’m wrong I’m sure my birder friends will correct me. Manuel Carranza/The Tico Times



Monkey watchers: my friend Tricia McCormick, left, and our new friends check out some squirrel monkeys next to the Río Claro. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times



Pregnancy is not slowing this spider monkey down much. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times



A young spider monkey hanging out on a branch. Manuel Carranza/The Tico Times



Our capitán manages another beach boarding, necessitated by the paucity of piers. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times



Look! Guide Manuel Carranza points out something-or-other. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times



A skull on a log — monkey, I’m guessing. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times



The ranger station at Sirena, where there is a grass landing strip, and where a new contractor will soon be offering meals and camping again. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times



A yellow ladybug we though was dead, but she was just playing dead. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times



An anteater/tamandua, rarely seen in Costa Rica but commonly spotted in Corcovado. Manuel Carranza/The Tico Times



A female tapir with a baby behind her, both napping in the midday heat. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times



A male tapir snoozing in the shade near the beach. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times



Camping platform at Sirena Ranger Station. Food and lodging is now being handled by a new contractor, and there are new bathrooms, but cabinas at Sirena are a thing of the past. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times



An eyelash viper curled up on a tree. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times



Our excellent guide, Manuel Carranza, scouts for crocs on the Río Claro. Karl Kahler/The Tico Times


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