One is only allowed to enter Corcovado National Park with a guide. The entrance from the sea is several miles away from our anchorage. So we booked a tour for the next day with one of the tour companies, there are no rest days here, tours are offered daily. Actually, lunch is included in the tour, but we preferred to accept the offer to pay 10 dollars less, to do without lunch and to be picked up and brought back directly from our boat. The tours start at 6 a.m., shortly after sunrise. We didn’t feel like getting into the dinghy, pulling it onto the beach and walking to the meeting point before 6 a.m. Getting picked up from our boat worked out fine and we were off at high speed along the coast.
Suddenly the tour boat slowed down and turned off the direct route. Did the captain just drive around a shoal? No, he had spotted a whale calf. Together with two other tour boats, we floated on the water and watched the whale’s back rise out of the water and dive down again. It was not until quite a while later that the mother animal also came to the surface to breathe. Whales can be seen twice a year in Costa Rica. Once they come down from the Arctic and once they come up from the Antarctic. Always to mate and give birth to their young here. The guide said this makes them true Costa Rican nationals.
Arriving at the park entrance, the speedboat, as is usual here, drove stern first towards the beach and we got out wading through the water. The ground was quite rocky, we were forewarned and had our neoprene shoes on.
The hike through the forest (without masks in the group) was very nice. It was always in the shade of the trees and because of the relatively early hour it was not too hot yet. The path was well trodden, but you had to be careful where you stepped. Tree roots, small riverbeds, differences in altitude that had to be overcome via steps demanded attention.
If there were animals to see, our guide would stop and direct us to a spot where we could observe well. These are the animals we saw:
2 different species of monkeys that shared an area because they feed on different things. The monkeys were up in the treetops.
We heard birds all the time that sounded like a mobile phone set to vibrate. We only saw them at the very end. They are Curaçaos, peacock-sized birds.
We saw ants with impressive trampled roads, butterflies, a dragonfly that looked like a drone in flight, a lizard, a small black bird with a flaming red back, a tarantula sitting in a tree stump and having to put up with being shone on by a mobile phone torch, a caiman on the riverbank sunning itself and not moving a bit.
At the end of the tour we came to a river mouth, with the surf of the Pacific in the background. There, a baby crocodile lay in the water and drifted. A flock of pelicans passed through the picture in a very picturesque way.
The crocodiles and caimans around here are supposed to be harmless. They get enough prey to eat and have never been fed by humans, so they are not interested in humans.
When we were already back at the departure point, we were ordered back again and walked across the beach and back into the forest to a spot where a tapir was lying in the forest and resting. It was not bothered by all the cameramen.
Of course, the forest also consisted of many impressive trees. But they don’t grow very old here. Sequioas, for example, only get about 300 years old. On the one hand, the trees have a stability problem because it rains heavily in October, 2 m of rainfall in one month, and on the other hand, fungi thrive in the humid climate and attack the trees. A distinction is made between primary and secondary rainforest. The primary forest is older, it has been around for a long time. The secondary forest is only 30 years old, when many areas on the Osa Peninsula were reforested. You can recognise the primary forest by a palm plant that is not very big. It must grow quite slowly.
There was a large tree that was already completely hollowed out from the inside due to fungal decay. You could crawl into the trunk through an opening in a large root. This tree will probably not be around for much longer, our guide said about 3 years.
Another impressive giant plant was a type of fig tree. It is called a strangler fig because it winds itself from above over other trees and then strangles them to become a tree itself. Pretty brutal actually.
On the way back with the fast boats we saw a sailboat that later joined us in the bay, but they did not stay long because they had problems with their propeller suspension and already had an appointment to be craned in the next marina.
When we got back to our boat, the speedboat banged a little against the hull, but nothing really happened. It’s not as sensitive as we feared. We wanted to relax with an audio book, but fell asleep for 2.5 hours. With the heat, the early rising and the 8 km round trip, you need a siesta after the work is done!
Drake Bay itself also offers a lot of beautiful nature. A hike along the coast and a trip to waterfalls will be the next blog topics. 🙂