Scarlet macaws gather in tree in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica (Ralph Lee Hopkins/National Geographic/Getty)

Mushroom in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica (Kevin Schafer/Photographers Choice/Getty)


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What to do in Corcovado National Park

There's a reason why Costa Rica has become the leader in the eco-tourism movement over these past two decades. Sure, the country adheres to the tenets of sustainable travel by featuring indigenous culture and food, curbing greenhouse gases that impact the environment, and involving the entire community in the tourism effort. Many resorts even go a step further by supporting local school systems and food banks. Yet, to truly be green, you must minimize your environmental footprint by making your property sustainable and encouraging outdoor recreation that provides regional education to guests. There's no better example of lodging that follows these principals than in the Osa Peninsula.

Tucked away on the southern Pacific coast, this remote section of the country houses dense tropical rainforest ideal for visitors who yearn to leave modernity behind and get lost in the bush. Naturalists from small eco-resorts lead tours into Corcovado National Park, where there are no roads, just trails. The humidity and rain will leave you dripping wet, so be prepared for the experience with wet weather gear and footwear. Your efforts will be rewarded with the opportunity to view the largest population of scarlet macaws in Central America, six toucan species, monkeys, caimans, sloths, and, if you're fortunate, the rare jaguar. At sea, pilot whales stay close to shore during their migration and can be spotted, along with dolphins, on one of the many available sea kayaking jaunts such as Escondido Trex.

True paradise comes with a price, and the Osa Peninsula will cost you an additional hour flight from San Jose to Puerto Jimenez. It's either the flight or a grueling eight-hour drive. Once in Puerto Jiminez, it takes another hour in a four-wheel-drive vehicle to reach one of the eco-resorts near or inside Corcovado. For the length of this journey, I recommend you spend at least three nights at the Osa Peninsula. It's not easy to get there, but once you arrive you won't want to leave.

  • Corcovado National Park Travel Q&A