A Hike in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica
During my stay in La Paloma Lodge I had the opportunity to hike part of Corcovado National Park. Since it was my first visit and given that access is by boat only, I went with a guide named Randall. There were also a few others from the lodge, but the group was small enough so as not to be annoying.
The journey to Corcovado takes about 25 minutes. We didn't stray far from the coast so land was always in sight. And we had the good fortune of coming across some Humpback Whales breaching the surface (not a full body breach unfortunately). Randall mentioned that a whale watching tour can spend hours looking for whales and here we were seeing them without even trying!
We came ashore near the ranger station. As is typical in Drake Bay, getting off the boat was done in shin-deep water. We then needed to cross the beach on incredibly hot sand. For those without proper foot gear this was an experience in and of itself.
Our hike began by immediately heading into the rainforest. Under the trees and protected from the sun, the temperature was actually quite pleasant. As with nearly all of the guides from our La Paloma, Randall was both knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the rainforest and its in habitants. So immediately he began to point out interesting plants and animals.
On the larger side we saw a three-toed sloth, spider monkeys, and mantled howler monkeys. For critters, we saw Blue Morpho Butterflies, a Great Owl Butterfly, and a cluster of Stink Bugs (we kept our distance). Randall also introduced us to the strength of the Golden Orb Spider's web – you can tug on the strands they won't break. Apparently this spider's web is being looked at for use in bullet proof armor. Despite its intimating size, the Golden Orb Spider is non-venomous and can be handled which Randall carefully did. One of other hikers reported seeing a Tayra, but I missed it.
Further along the trail we came across a Crested Guan, a Black Guan, and a Coati that snuck up on us while we had our heads back looking at monkeys. I had hoped to see a Tapir, but the best we managed were some tracks in the mud near a small stream.
The hike eventually took us out of the woods and onto a beach. We got the sort of view you see in movies – sandy beach, blue water with waves breaking on rocks, and a lush green backdrop of palms. Incredible. Along the beach we spotted 2 pairs of Scarlet Macaws – one pair was nesting on a branch while another was in flight. Along the beach we also came across a Whimbrel walking on the sand, a Snowy Egret, and a Brown Boobie in flight.
Before heading back to the ranger station, Randall picked up a coconut from the ground. He pounded it against a stick he had secured into the sand until the outer husk could be removed. This revealed the brown seed we're used to seeing the grocery store. He cracked the hard casing using a rock until he had weakened it enough to break in half. I then got to taste fresh coconut juice which Randall said wasn't too sweet, but I found to be quite tasty. The white fleshy part was also yummy.
After lunch at the ranger station we headed out on a shorter walk to a nearby waterfall. Along the way we say a large crocodile, slender anoles, and a basilisk or two. The waterfall itself was nice. The brave among us went right to it while those not adequately attired hung back and took photos. Guess which camp I fell into. After hanging out at the the waterfall for a bit we double-backed a short way to a portion of the river that widened enough to make for a good swim.
The final walk back to the ranger station was uneventful, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed visiting Corcovado National Park. It strikes me as a place you could return to many times and you'd be rewarded something new every time.