Corcovado, Osa Peninsula and Golfo Dulce
Osa Peninsula, Corcovado National Park & Golfo Dulce
The Osa Peninsula is rich in wildlife and biodiversity and will not disappoint. Here you will find some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities in Costa Rica, away from the masses. The biodiversity here is huge, a result of its remoteness and heavy rainfall. It is home to around 140 species of mammal and more than 400 species of bird. Jaguars and ocelots roam the forests, though they are somewhat elusive. All four species of monkey found in Costa Rica can be found here as well as the adorable laid back sloths.
Apart from Carara National Park, the Osa Peninsula is the only other area where you will find the striking scarlet macaw. If you are lucky and patient, you could catch a fleeting glimpse of the brightly coloured feathers as the birds fly through the canopy, announcing their presence by squawking loudly – but let us not forget the smaller living creatures; there is an amazing array of beautiful butterflies and insects to be found here too.
Two of the main attractions on the Osa Peninsula are Drake’s Bay and the Corcovado National Park.
Known locally as Bahía Drake (named after Sir Frances Drake), this is one of Costa Rica’s most isolated spots – a real find. Largely cut off from the main routes, the lack of visitors has made this a haven for the abundant wildlife that can be found here, from troops of howler monkeys in the rainforest to pods of dolphins swimming by in the ocean. This area also has exceptional whale-watching. Humpback whales are usually found here year round except for May but the best months are end of July to early November.
Corcovado National Park
Most of the Osa Peninsula is protected by the Corcovado National Park. National Geographic referred to this park as ‘the most biologically intense place on earth’ and that seems to be a fairly accurate description to us. The scenery here is breath taking, wild and untamed, made up of lowland rainforest, montane forest, lagoons, mangrove swamps and beaches.
The wildlife here is also diverse. With 140 species of mammal, 400 bird species, 115 reptiles and amphibians this is a treasure trove for nature lovers. The park is best experienced when there is the least rain (January to April). Take a day trip on a guided tour or take the plunge and enjoy overnight jungle treks. This is one of the few places where you can still find the scarlet macaw, the endangered Baird’s tapir makes its home here too. It has a much more remote and untouched feel to it than the other national parks and is a beautiful place to visit and immerse yourself in the wilderness of this beautiful national park.
Things to do:
- Snorkelling – Take a boat trip to Caño Island for a surprising snorkelling experience amongst pristine coral reefs.
- Visit indigenous burial sites – While you are there, go ashore on Caño Island and you can visit the perfect stone spheres that mark a burial ground of the Diquis Indians.
- Hiking – Hike the remote coastal paths of the park and bask in the remoteness of this stunning area.
- Monkeys and more monkeys – Try and spot all 4 of Costa Rica’s monkeys in the park – this is the only place where you can find them all represented.
- Whale watching – Drake’s Bay is ideal for whale watching, time it right and you won’t be disappointed. The location makes for one of the longest whale watching seasons, just avoid May. August to early November are best.
Just around the ‘corner’ and less visited than the Osa Peninsula, the Golfo Dulce (sweet gulf) has its own charms. In October the humpback whales use the calm waters of the gulf as a nursery for their young before they set off on the next part of their epic journey. It is also where you will find the Piedras Blancas National Park, once part of Corcovado, a pristine tract of lowland rainforest.
Further inland is home to some of the indigenous people of Costa Rica who live in the reserve near Pavones.
Things to do:
- Boating on the ocean – Hire a boat and crew and go out in search of sailfish – best time to catch a magnificent fish would be November to May.
- Dolphin spotting – Keep your eye out for the three species of dolphin that make the gulf home (common, spotted and bottlenose).
- Cross Golfo Dulce by boat – travel from one lodge to the next via a boat for a change of scenery.
When to Visit the Osa Peninsula:
As with the rest of Costa Rica, the dry season runs from December through to April. The green season is still good for travelling but just be prepared that it will rain a little each day. September and October are when the heaviest rains fall on this region and whilst the rains ease off through November, this area is still very wet.
Get more advice about when to travel to Costa Rica on our When to Visit page.
Where to Stay:
There is accommodation to suit all budgets in much of this region. Accommodation at Bahía Drake, however, is mainly upmarket as the logistics of getting supplies in and access make this a more expensive location.