Corcovado & the Osa Peninsula

The Osa Peninsula is Costa Rica’s final frontier. Hot, humid, and wild, this hook-shaped curve of land jutting out into the Pacific offers true off-road adventure, in one of the largest tracts of virgin rainforest in Central America.

Hardy trekkers will immediately be drawn to Corcovado National Park, whose leafy sprawl encompasses no less than 13 separate biospheres. Lowland rainforest, highland cloud forest, coastal beach, mangrove swamp: the sheer diversity of this 164-square-mile preserve staggers. Here you’ll find no roads, no crowds—just acre on acre of spider monkeys, Baird’s tapirs, jaguars, and other rare fauna.

Corcovado is as rewarding as it is challenging. Two- and three-day excursions offer skilled eco-hikers a chance to negotiate the thick lianas and river crossings of the park’s two main trails, while water-goers can kayak through the mangroves or take a speedboat to adjoining Bahía Drake, reaching the park along the shore. Either way, sightings of exotic wildlife are almost guaranteed. Keep your eyes peeled for alligators and bull sharks, and hope for a rare visit from the endangered harpy eagle, the country’s biggest predatory raptor.

Osa Peninsula is not totally devoid of civilization. After a jungle walk, you can rest at one of the area’s numerous lodges, some located just outside the park. Surfers can catch the cerulean swells at Cabo Matapalo, while the former gold-mining villages of Rancho Quemado and Dos Brazos offer introductions to gold-panning and sugar-making, in a throwback to the country’s colonial past.

Osa Peninsula is Costa Rica untamed. Those looking for beauty and wildness will find both in abundance in this lush Pacific eco-mecca.
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