Corcovado National Park

Coordinates: 8°33′0″N 83°35′0″W / 8.55000°N 83.58333°W / 8.55000; -83.58333
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Corcovado National Park
Corcovado National Park
LocationOsa Peninsula, Costa Rica
Coordinates8°33′0″N 83°35′0″W / 8.55000°N 83.58333°W / 8.55000; -83.58333
Area424 km2 (164 sq mi)
EstablishedOctober 24, 1975
Governing bodyNational System of Conservation Areas (SINAC)
Corcovado National Park is located in Costa Rica
Corcovado National Park
Location in Costa Rica

Corcovado National Park (Spanish: Parque Nacional Corcovado) is a National Park on the Osa Peninsula, in Osa Canton, located on the southwestern regions of Costa Rica (9° North, 83° West), which is a part of the Osa Conservation Area.[1] Corcovado National Park was established in October 24 1975 and occupies an area of 424 square kilometres (164 sq mi). It is currently the largest park in Costa Rica and extends over about a third of the Osa Peninsula.

The park has the largest primary forest on the American Pacific coastline and is also one of the few remaining sizable areas of lowland tropical forests in the world. Historically, logging in has taken place in lowland areas due to their easy accessibility and the presence of the largest and most abundant economically valuable trees. But in those habitats, which feature the diverse vegetation, are also usually the richest in biodiversity. What is left of the originally rich lowland forests is usually too small an area to support the original natural biodiversity.[citation needed]


A Margay in Corcovado.
Pantropical spotted dolphins off Osa Peninsula
Tamandua anteater

Corcovado is home to the endangered Baird's tapir and a small harpy eagle population. The park's rivers and lagoons are home to the American crocodile and spectacled caiman, along with bull sharks. Several felines are also present, including the jaguar, ocelot, margay, jaguarundi, and puma. All four Costa Rican monkey species are known to live within the park, including the endangered Central American squirrel monkey, white-faced capuchin, mantled howler, and Geoffroy's spider monkey. Other mammals include two-toed and three-toed sloth, collared peccary, northern tamandua, and silky anteater. Poison dart frogs, red-eyed tree frogs, glass frogs, and several species of snake (including the venomous fer-de-lance and bushmaster) are also present within the park.

Most animal sightings can be expected along the coast, including scarlet macaws (the largest population in the country), hermit crabs, pelicans, spider monkeys, tamandua anteaters, pumas, white faced capuchin monkeys, lineated woodpeckers and coatis.

Other animals in the park include Central American squirrel monkeys, mantled howler monkeys, both two-toed and three-toed sloths, agoutis, giant anteaters, great curassows, black hawks, spectacled owls, hummingbirds, 220 species of butterflies, golden orb spiders, otters and raccoons. Four species of sea turtle (green, Pacific ridley, hawksbill, and leatherback) nest on the beaches.

The abundance in wildlife can in part be explained by the variety of vegetation zones, at least thirteen, including montane forest (which covers more than half the park) cloud forest, jolillo forest (palm swamp), prairie forest, alluvial plains forest, swamp forest, freshwater herbaceous swamp and mangrove, together holding over 500 tree species, including purple heart, poponjoche, nargusta, banak, cow tree, espave and crabwood. The high biodiversity is also attributed to Costa Rica's position on a north-south corridor for flora and fauna; part of the "land bridge" and wildlife corridor that links the large continents of North America and South America.[2] In 41,800 hectares, Corcovado houses 3% of the world's biodiversity.

The waters of the park are rich in biodiversity. The coasts are wintering and breeding grounds for humpback whales that come each winter. Other baleen whales also migrate through the area such as Bryde's whale.[3] Dolphins such as spinner and rough-toothed, and smaller cetaceans such as false killer whales and killer whales are seasonal migrants to these areas.[4][5][6] Manatees are occasionally reported at Manzanillo Beach, Talamanca, and Limon.

Creation and threats[edit]

Beach Llorona

Because of the remoteness of the peninsula, logging only began in the 1960s. By 1975 there were plans for a major international logging operation. Researchers petitioned President Daniel Oduber to protect the area, which he did by making it a National Park. For this he received the Albert Schweitzer Award from the Animal Welfare Institute. The already present gold miners were allowed to stay. By 1986 their number had increased to about 1,000 (not counting their families), who also hunted wildlife. It was decided to evict them. However, illegal mining still occurs (using more destructive, modern methods). The number of miners is estimated to be about 400. It is estimated that 38% of the park (16.000 hectares) has been exploited by gold miners.[2]

Increased tourism has led to an increased presence of humans in the park, which some worry could threaten the long-term survival of the park's larger mammals. To help combat the threat of over-exposure, many agencies and other groups (including Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, WWF–U.S., rain-forest conservation groups in several countries, Catholic Relief Service, Organization of American States, and the Costa Rican, Danish, Dutch, Swedish and United States governments) have come together to provide aid to the conservation of mammalian species.

Claro River exiting the park.



Corcovado National Park is open to the public. As of February 1, 2014 all Corcovado visitors must be accompanied by certified guides. During the wet months (July to November), certain parts of the park are closed.

There are two tracks, one coastal and one inland, and four ranger stations in the park where tourists stay overnight; three at the park entrances and one at the intersection of the two tracks. One track runs Northwest to Southeast along the coast to La Leona ecolodge, with the Estación Sirena roughly in the middle. The second track runs inland from Estación Sirena to Estación Los Patos at the Eastern end of the park.

The coastal track has several rivers that must be crossed by fording, but it's risky during high tide or for inexperienced hikers. Rio Sirena is commonly regarded as the most dangerous of crossings, primarily because it flows directly into the massive Laguna Corcovado in the isolated heart of the park. Bull sharks are present at the river mouth during high tide. American crocodiles are also present within the river. Spectacled caiman are present further up river and within Laguna Corcovado in larger numbers. The Rio Claro, which is approximately 40 minutes south of Rio Sirena, is said to be safer. Small American crocodiles and spectacled caiman are also present within the Rio Claro. The Rio Madrigal, north of the park entrance, is smaller and may be home to spectacled caiman.

Corcovado National Park coast between Sirena and La Leona ranger stations.


  1. ^ "Corcovado National Park Costa Rica". Retrieved 2022-10-10.
  2. ^ a b "Especial Areas Silvestres Protegidas: tierra de todos y de nadie. El caso de Corcovado". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21.
  3. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-09-08. Retrieved 2016-03-07.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Costa Cetacea (retrieved on 12-05-2014)
  5. ^ ANNIE. 2012. False Killer Whales. Costa Rica Retrieved on August 25, 2017
  6. ^ ANNIE. 2012. Orca Whales. Costa Rica Retrieved on August 25, 2017

External links[edit]