Established in 1975, Corcovado’s varied forest types, coastal waters, rivers and lagoons host around half of the country’s animal species. Famously, it’s been dubbed ‘the most biologically intense place on Earth’. It is wet, rugged and remote, but the intrepid wildlife-lover will be well rewarded.
Scarlet macaw, Ara macao
Scarlet Macaws in Costa Rica. @ Jim Cumming
Corcovado is home to Costa Rica’s largest population of this vibrant parrot. Many roost in coastal mangroves then fly into interior forests at dawn to feed. Listen for harsh screeches and squawks in the canopy, and gaze up to spot its bright red and blue plumage.
Baird’s tapir, Tapirus bairdii
Baird’s tapir in Corcovado National Park. @ Matteo Colombo/Getty
Possibly 200–300 of this endangered tapir snuffle the forests of Corcovado. This, often solitary, herbivore grows up to 250kg and communicates via shrill whistles. Head onto one of the park’s trails at dawn or dusk for the best chance of spotting this tapir.
Red-backed squirrel monkey @ Kryssia Campos/Getty
Keep an eye out for groups of red-backed squirrel monkeys, Saimiri oerstedii, scampering through the canopy. There are also around 370 bird species here, including the huge (but rarely spotted) harpy eagle, Harpia harpyja. Green turtles, Chelonia mydas, visit the shore to nest between July and October.
Annual mountain rainfall: 5,500mm
When to go
The dry season (December to April) is the most comfotable time to visit. The forests remain lush into the new year – this is when most scarlet macaws breed.
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