Rocks and waves seen from a beach
Costa Rica,  Monday walks,  Wildlife and nature

Corcovado: a walk in a rainforest

Early on our first morning on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula, in the far south west of the country, we boarded the small boat that was to take us and seven other guests of the Aguila de Osa lodge to the nearby national park, Corcovado. This is primary rainforest, never touched and preserved intact.

The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness

John Muir
Picture of trees in a line

The boat ride took about twenty minutes and was pretty bumpy at times. The early morning light was beautiful; I would have like to have travelled more slowly in order to take photos of the coast and waves breaking on the rocks. One of the latter, very craggy, somehow had a whole tree growing from the top. I tried my best between bumps and got a couple of shots along the way.

Blue sea with rocks, brown birds on one of them
Rocks and pelicans
Forest with sea in the foreground and rocks
The forest seen from the sea

We had a wet landing, paddling ashore just by the ranger station; but we could use some showers at the station to wash our feet and dry them before putting our shoes back on. And here I could get that desired photo of this beautiful coastline, albeit from a different angle, on land.

Looking out to sea from under a palm tree
View from the beach

The walk

Please join me on our walk, linked to Jo’s Monday Walks challenge.

Our guide David led us along a path that bordered the coast to the north of our landing place, a walk of about two miles I believe. Little hermit crabs regularly scuttled across our path. And in many places we had glimpses of the sea between the trees and at times walked down on to these tiny but stunning coves.

Looking at a rocky beach from under a palm tree
One of the small coves
Rocks and waves seen from a beach
In another little cove
The plants

As we walked David pointed out some of the more interesting plants. The red ginger flowers. The sea almond trees beloved by the macaws. The bromeliads and strangler figs. The beautiful scented white flowers of the barrigon kapok tree, a favourite food of the monkeys.

Wildlife sightings

The wildlife wasn’t as plentiful as I’d anticipated. But we did see the following:

  • Spider monkeys (in the distance and impossible to photograph)
  • Several spiders, including a Golden Orb (on the left and centre below) and a female Tiger Spider (Argiope savignyi, on the right)
  • A Chestnut Backed Antbird, and several other birds I didn’t manage to photograph (or remember their names!)
Small dark blue bird with brown wings
Chestnut Backed Antbird
  • An elusive anteater up in a palm tree, which I tried in vain to get a decent photo of. See if you can spot him in the shots below – the slider will help if you’re stuck!
Looking up at a tall palm treeLooking up at a tall palm tree
Looking up at a tall palm treeLooking up at a tall palm tree

We saw huge termite nests attached to many of the trees.

Tree trunk with brown lump attached
Termites’ nest

And we heard pumas but didn’t see them (a group visiting the following day was luckier, spotting two on the path we had walked just 24 hours earlier!)

Scarlet Macaws

The best sightings by far were of the Scarlet Macaws. We spent a lot of time trying to photograph them high above our heads, eating the sea almonds. David pointed out how cleverly the hermit crabs gathered at the foot of the trees to eat any fruits dropped by the birds.

Back at the beach

When we got back to the ranger station, after a detour in search of the anteater, it was about ten o’clock. I was very weary, with an aching back from looking up so much at the macaws and that elusive anteater. We looked on jealously as another group were given fruit, cookies and water; the hotel had told us picnics weren’t allowed at present due to the pandemic (although I have no idea how they could spread the virus!)

After a short break we wandered down to the mouth of a small river that splits this beach in two and David pointed out a couple of crocodiles on its banks, one a juvenile.

Crocodile on a muddy bank
One of the crocodiles
River lined with tall trees
The river mouth

He then proposed a second walk up to a waterfall on a path said to be rather more challenging. I decided to give this a miss, as did one of the others in the group, a friendly Paraguayan/Canadian, also with a bad back. He and I sat and chatted a bit; then I amused myself watching and photographing the pelicans diving for fish, and taking more photos of the beautiful beach, while he had a snooze.

When the main group returned from their walk Chris showed me his sodden trainers. They had had to wade through a river with a bed of sharp stones and he’d been advised to keep his shoes on! I was more pleased than ever with my decision not to go. One walk had been more than enough for me, and I’d had a wonderful morning.

Incidentally Chris’s trainers remained damp for much of the holiday and were thrown away before we flew home!

I visited Costa Rica in February 2022

32 Comments

  • Annie Berger

    Sarah,

    Your photo near the top of the kapok tree is an award winner in my book – just stunning! Really liked the vivid red macaws, too, as they reminded us of those we saw in Peru’s Amazon region. Thanks for the new and old memories!

  • rosalieann37

    We did the boat ride to Corcovado in 1996. Some English folk apparently didn’t want us on the trip with them, so the camp was forced to send another guide with another boat so they wouldn’t be held up by how slow I was. In addition to Bob and me, another couple was in our group. The main objective of the English couple was to see a scarlet macaw. Their group went up to the waterfall, and our group took a hike along the beach to the river in the morning.

    In front of the park headquarters, hanging from a tree over a picnic table were a bunch of bats. We had also seen some in tree cavities on the Caribbean coast. We saw white faced monkeys and coati mundis (wild). Bob said he saw Violet Ear (hummingbird- Colibri delphinae), and Black-tailed Flycatcher (Myiobius atricaudus) which had nest in a tree on an offshore island, along with Brown Boobys (Sula Leucogaster). We walked along the beach and through the forest next to the beach, and then swam in the river pool.

    In the afternoon the other couple with us did the hike to the waterfall, and the group with the English couple did the forest walk. Bob and I stayed around headquarters and watched the grackles.

    On the way home, we saw a flock of Scarlet Macaws (Ara macao) in the trees along the shore. The other group didn’t see any!!

    But I was taking photos with a point and shoot film camera so not a patch on yours – I was glad to see the area again through your eyes (and camera)

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Hi Rosalie 🙂 Sounds like you did the right thing not attempting the waterfall walk, as I’m sure I did too! And you did well for wildlife. We didn’t see a Brown Booby here but saw one the following day (no doubt to appear in a future post!) Likewise we saw white faced monkeys and coati mundi later in the trip, but not here. I’m glad I brought back soem good memories for you 😀

  • Life with Alegria

    What a lovely walk in a beautiful place Sarah. Costa Rica is a beautiful country. I haven’t been to the southern part though. Still it had the same lushness with plenty of greenery and exotic florals. Beautiful images. Yes, I see the anteater, in parts.

  • Rose

    What a scenic area. The sliders were definitely helpful for finding the anteater. The rainforest cove shots are idyllic. ❤️ Thank-you for sharing so many warm, sunny photos. We’re being buried under more snow, in another winter storm warning.

  • thehungrytravellers.blog

    Fabulous photographs which of course evoke all those recent memories. We saw an unbelievable amount of wildlife – far more than we expected – but we didn’t see an anteater, you got lucky with that one! Regarding the ban on picnics…all of the national parks we visited had a complete ban, so those people you saw were probably breaking the rules. However it wasn’t due to COVID (so we were told) but it was to stop plastic being taken into the areas and also to prevent the wrong foods being fed to/left for/stolen by the animals. Corcovado looks fabulous, we didn’t include it on our itinerary but everyone speaks of it as beautiful, it certainly looks it in your post

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thanks so much 🙂 Yes, we were lucky with that anteater, unlucky with the pumas, lucky again the next day as you will see … That’s how it goes with wildlife.

      That makes much more sense as a reason to ban picnics but it’s odd that the other group had one as they were with an authorised (from what I could see) guide and were given pretty much the same as we got once back on the boat. And yes, out of plastic containers!

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thanks Emily 🙂 I was thrilled to see the anteater although I’d have liked a better look. We were all willing him to come down from the tree but he wouldn’t budge!

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Interesting – I didn’t think of the termites as scary. Possibly the spiders, although I didn’t mind them; the crocodiles definitely if you were to get too close; and maybe the pumas too? But not the termites, as far as I’m concerned at least. Glad you had a great time there despite them 🙂

  • restlessjo

    How long was your flight, Sarah? We’ve watched documentaries on Costa Rica and the flora and fauna look amazing, but there’s never any guarantee you’ll see it all, is there? I’d have been happy watching pelicans too. They’re quite exotic to me. And what a shame to eat those lovely white blooms! Many thanks for sharing, hon. I’m sure you’ll have lots more to come.

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