Corcovado National Park conserves the largest primary forest on the American Pacific coastline and is one of the few remaining sizable areas of lowland tropical forests in the world. It is considered the crown jewel in the extensive system of parks and reserves spread across Costa Rica.
Corcovado National Park
Corcovado National Park is located on the Osa Peninsula in southwestern Costa Rica. It is widely considered the crown jewel in the extensive system of national parks and biological reserves spread across Costa Rica.
Created in 1975 to protect this region from illegal gold mining and logging, the Corcovado National Park encompasses an area of over 41,000 ha (101,300 acres). It is the largest park in Costa Rica and protects about one-third of the Osa Peninsula.
Corcovado National Park conserves the largest primary forest on the American Pacific coastline and one of the few remaining sizable areas of lowland tropical forests in the world. Hiking is very popular here and there are four ranger stations at strategic locations around the park.
The park protects over 140 different mammal species; 400 bird species, 20 of which are endemic; 116 amphibian and reptile species, 40 species of fish and at least 500 species of trees.
The abundance in wildlife can in part be explained by the variety of vegetation types, including montane forest (more than half the park), cloud forest, jolillo forest (palm swamp), prairie forest, alluvial plains forest, swamp forest, freshwater herbaceous swamp and mangrove.
Together, these forests hold over 500 tree species, including purple heart, poponjoche, nargusta, banak, cow tree, espave and crabwood.
Waters of the park are calm and rich in biodiversity. Cano Island Biological Reserve is one of the featured reserves along the coasts. These coasts, such as at Drake Bay, are wintering and breeding grounds for the humpback whales that come each winter.
Other baleen whales also migrate through the area such as Bryde's whale. Dolphins such as spinner and rough-toothed, and smaller cetaceans such as false killer whales and killer whales are seasonal residents/migrants to these areas.
Manatees can be observed occasionally at areas like Manzanillo Beach, Talamanca, and Limon. Four species of sea turtle (green, Pacific ridley, hawksbill, and leatherback) nest on the beaches.
Corcovado National Park is home to a sizable population of the endangered Baird's tapir and even a small population of the very rare harpy eagle. The park's rivers and lagoons are home to populations of both the American crocodile and spectacled caiman, along with bull sharks.
The park is also one of the final strongholds of the jaguar within Central America and several other felines are also present, including ocelot, margay, jaguarundi, and puma.
All four Costa Rican monkey species inhabit the park, including the endangered Central American squirrel monkey, white-faced capuchin, mantled howler, and Geoffroy's spider monkey.
Other mammals present include two-toed and three-toed sloth, collared peccary, northern tamandua and silky anteater. Poison dart frogs and several species of snake (including the venomous fer-de-lance and bushmaster) are also common within the park.