Sunday, February 23
I was really excited to finally be going to Corcovado National Park! I had read about all the different types of animals and birds we might see there. The variety of species here is very diverse. It is a pathway between North and South America so there are many animals from both regions. I was most interested in the animals we don’t have in Canada. Top of my list were Sloths, followed by Tapirs, Coatis and Monkeys. It would have been great to see some of the big cats, but I knew that was unlikely as they are shy and often hunt at night.
There are no roads, so the only way to get there is either by a day long hike or by boat. This trip we decided on the boat. Jaguar’s Jungle is very close to the border of the park and that is why we chose to stay there.
Our guide picked us up at our beach. After a short ride, we landed at a rocky beach. The drivers of the boats are very skilled at backing in as they have to do so many wet landings. There are no docks. There were many boats here delivering people to the park.
This area of the park is very popular and we saw several tour groups here. Our group was small and we had a great guide. It wasn’t long until we had our first sighting. There was a Sloth up in a tree, but it was so high that it was very hard to see. Heading a bit further down the path we were surprised by a Tapir and it’s calf. The calves are called hiders as they are born with stripes and blend into the jungle very well. Tapirs are rare and endangered.
We were treated to a few more sightings – a Peccary and an Agouti. Although peccaries resemble wild pigs, they are not closely related. They are usually in herds of up to 50 but separate into smaller groups to eat. They are quite small and apparently smell like bad cheese. Agoutis are medium sized and are diurnal and therefore easier to spot. They are solitary mammals.
Peccary and Agouti
We saw several Coatis. The females and their offspring travel in large groups of ten to forty. They are omnivorous, very social and sleep in trees.
It is very difficult to get a good picture of some of these animals as they are hard to spot and are always moving. We enjoyed seeing all the different types of monkeys as well as the interesting trees and plant life. Costa Rica is home to four different types of Monkeys: Spider, Capuchin, Howler and Squirrel.
We spotted Woodpeckers and Toucans and I was thrilled to see a Motmot! Notice his very long tail….
Woodpeckers, Toucan and Motmot
We headed over to the Sirena station for a break. There are bunk beds here so you can stay overnight for multi-day tours. Once we had our snack, we headed towards the ocean to explore a different area of the park.
We watched a Heron diving for his dinner and our guide pointed out some whale bones that had washed up on shore.
We explored the next area before heading back into the jungle. It was quite picturesque with the water flowing into the ocean from the river. We saw some more Tapirs that were enjoying a mud bath.
It was now time to head back to Jaguar’s Jungle, where our lunch would be served. On the way out we were treated to a rare occurrence. A sloth was fairly low in the tree as she had just come down to go to the bathroom. About once a week the Sloth will make their way down and use their tail to make a hole to defecate into. One hypothesis is that this is to provide fertilizer for the tree they are living in at the time. There are two kinds of Sloths – Two Toed and Three Toed.
Sloths can be extremely hard to spot as many have algae growing in their fur which makes them quite green. They also lie on their backs when resting in the crook of a tree.
Now it was time to head back down to the rocky beach to catch a ride back to our hotel.
The ride back was fun too – we circled a small rock structure that had many Frigate birds as well as a few Brown Boobies. We also saw the Llorana waterfall and some caves.
Top right – Frigate Birds Middle right – Brown Boobies
After we finished lunch with our tour group, we headed out for another hike. There are a few trails here that you can explore on your own right from the property. Parts of the trail are quite easy and some are more technical. We spotted some Spider Monkeys and could often hear the Howler Monkeys as their cry can carry some distance.
Middle right -Basilisk Bottom right – Leaf Cutter Ants
We passed a biological station. They have camera traps set up around the area to follow some of the mammals that are rarely spotted such as Jaguars, Ocelots and Puma. We also saw many groups of leaf cutter ants and were told to carefully step over them so as not to disrupt their work. We also saw a few Basilisks which are nicknamed Jesus Christ Lizards because they can run on top of the water. Later in our trip we actually saw one do that!
We finished our day with another great meal and a gorgeous sunset!
Fun Fact: Costa Rica only has two seasons: Dry (Summer) and Rainy (Winter). In general, the dry season runs from December to April and the rainy season runs from May to November.