Hiking in the Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica was awesome. The boat picked us up at 7:30 am and whisked us past some of the most virgin coastline I have ever seen. As beautiful as the beaches and jungle were, I had a hard time keeping my eyes on the coast. October is Whale season on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, and I was determined to see whales close up. The 30 minute boat ride from Punta Marenco did not give me enough time. But we did see what we thought was a bird flying next to our boat, but after a closer look, it was a fish! A beautiful colorful fish about a foot off the water and next to our boat, and it was actually going faster than the boat. It was a Flying Fish! It was beside us for a few seconds then plunged into the water. The amazement did not allow us the time to take a picture.
Normally when we travel or visit national parks, we don’t hire a guide. We like to stroll through on our own. Traveling with small children we like to remain flexible and don’t want to inconvenience the other group members or feel like we’re rushing our children. In this case, it was just us and the Pearce Family and Mario was our dedicated guide for our entire stay. He’s also the grandson of the owner of the Punta Marenco Lodge. Mario was full of interesting information about plants and animals. I think from this point forward, we will hire guides. The insight we gained from Mario enriched our experience. He was able to track down a tiny Poison Dart Frog by the sounds it was making. He spotted a sloth waaaaay up the tree canopy. Both things that we would have never seen on our own.
We started hiking along the beach and then into a secondary rainforest for what would have normally been a 2 hour hike. It took us over 4 hours, but it was relaxing for the adults, fun for the kids and very informative. A secondary rainforest is one that has been cleared once (this one in particular in the 1940s for farming) and has started to regrow. We spotted so much wildlife thanks to Mario: scarlet macaws, monkeys, sloths, basilisks, huge grasshoppers, tiny poison dart frogs, loads of hermit crabs, toucans, tapir footprints, leaf cutter ants and more. We even spotted a whale from shore.
Interesting facts we learned:
- Scarlet Macaws mate for life
- Monkeys eat the huge grasshoppers (they were longer than most index fingers)
- Hermit crabs can only survive on a healthy beach. They clean the beach by eating debris and once they outgrow their shell, they look for a bigger one. (So, don’t take shells from pristine beaches…those are future homes for hermit crabs). The more hermit crabs you see, the healthier the beach. These beaches were FULL of hermit crabs.
- Leaf cutter ants don’t eat leaves. They bring them back to their nest to make a compost that grows a mushroom they eat. Leaf cutter ants are underground gardeners.
- Bats love to eat mosquitos. One bat eats 2,000 mosquitos per night, and that makes bats my new favorite animal.
We’re seeing Green
Being in the thick of the jungle, you start to notice that the color green has 5000 variations and they all exist here. The morning was spent in a secondary rainforest and the afternoon in a primary (never been cut) rainforest. Corcovado has the largest primary forest left on the American Pacific coastline. The primary forest was different: bigger trees and a denser canopy cover with fewer open areas. We enjoyed jumping over huge tree roots, forging rivers and even swinging on vines.
A few fun facts from Corcovado:
- Strangler figs shoot roots down and grow around a tree, eventually strangling the host tree.
- Monkey Leather – a twisty woody vine that is used as a curative tonic for digestive disorders.
- Garlic Tree is native to Corcovado and blooms once a year.
- There are trees in the forest that are hollow inside. During the wet season they fill their inner reservoir with water for dry season survival.
- Fishtail palms are used for roofing because of their plastic-like waterproof layer. A fishtail palm roof will last 7 years before they need to be replaced. The Lodge uses them on their cabin roofs.
- Bamboo can grow up to 3 feet per day
It was such a fun day. I’m not sure how much we hiked, but coming back to the lodge for a refreshing pipa and rest was welcome.
More posts about the Osa Peninsula:
Next post: Adventures in the Osa Peninsula with a video of our trip