On our way to Corcovado National Park we called up some tour agencies to book a three-day tour. As tours were all full (as the daily visitor quota is limited by law) we decided to drive into the park ourselves till somebody would stop us. Corcovado National Park is a reserve on southwest Costa Rica‘s Osa Peninsula that protects varied tropical ecosystems with habitats ranging from Pacific beaches and mangrove swamps to lowland and montane rainforest. Some say that it is ‘the most biologically intense place on the planet’. Approximately, 6,000 insects (including 123 different butterflies discovered so far), 500 trees, 367 birds, 140 mammals, 117 amphibian and reptiles, and 40 freshwater fish species live here in coexistence. Wildlife includes the tapir, giant anteater, jaguar, cougar, ocelot and the white-lipped peccary.

Soon we saw toucans, monkeys, big lizards, the American crocodile and tens of giant neon-blue iridescent butterflies; the Menelaus Blue Morpho with a wingspan of up to 15 cm. One of the most beautiful things we’ve ever seen!



Tours stopped with their binoculars and one of the guides (Rodolfo Saenz Gutierrez of Corcovado Hiking Tours) was so kind to let us watch through his lens too and told us to stay close to join his safari.

As of February 2014 all park visitors must be accompanied by a professional guide, even for single day trips. At the park entrance Rodolfo said he had two spots left and we could pay for a one-day tour. Rodolfo continuously showed us different animals such as tiny bats, scarlet macaws, the Keel-billed Toucan, Fiery-billed Aracari and other birds, as well as two-toed and three-toed sloths and four kinds of endangered monkeys; the Howler Monkey, Spider Monkey, Squirrel Monkey and White-Faced (Capuchin) Monkey.


Howler Monkey
Howler Monkeys got their names due to the deep rumbling growls they make in the early mornings to mark their presence and thereby, their territory. Their noise carries for up to five kilometres and makes the loudest sound in the jungle.

Spider Monkey
Spider Monkeys can use their tails like a fifth hand with which they can support their entire body weight. They are known to communicate by gestures: by approach of a human they might climb to the end of a branch and shake it vigorously to scare the intruder away. If this does not work, they can throw heavy branches at the unwanted guest.

Squirrel Monkey
The Squirrel Monkey is a tiny monkey (circa 0.6 kg). These fast moving monkeys do not use their tails for climbing, but as a balancing pole (similar to cats).

White-Faced (Capuchin) Monkey
Capuchins are approximately 50 cm high and eat everything from flowers, fruit, bird-eggs, insects to the sandwich you brought to the beach. Watch out with these overactive primates: they are known to snatch anything edible or shiny and are sometimes aggressive to defend their territory. Luckily, we have experienced them in their natural way, without interactions with humans. Sadly, however, Capuchin monkeys seem to have undergone a recent rise in pet trade.

Sloths switch trees every two to three days and they feed on leaves. Because their diet consists of this poor nutrition, their metabolism is so low that it calls for their laziness and low body temperature. For reasons that nobody actually understands sloths take the risk to climb down their tree to urinate and defecate once a week. This action is hard to understand, as there is no clear need to do so. Every time sloths spend this half hour to go about their ‘business’ they are defenceless and in severe danger of predators.


Rodolfo found the frog that we still had on our wish-list after our frog safaris near the Arenal Volcano; the green-and-black poison dart frog. This frog is highly toxic; the very small amount of poison the frog possesses is enough to make a human heart stop beating.

Rodolfo also showed us a group of coatis which were greedily digging up turtle eggs from the beach; a sad spectacle, but it’s part of nature. Equally harsh, he let us taste alive termites (highly nutritious and sweet, we totally understand the anteaters!) as well as wild edible flowers, palm fruit and coconuts.


Rodolfo was the perfect guide and even invited us to stay with him and his girlfriend at his self-designed house in Puerto Jimenez for Christmas!

On his day off he took us on an extra safari to watch birds, crocodiles and alligators, which live in a pool in the village, right between the people.

To surprise Rodolfo, we decorated his house and prepared breakfast and Christmas gifts. He brought a typical Costa Rican Christmas dish made by his mother and served fresh coconut water from his jungle.

We did not want to disturb their whole romantic Christmas, so on Second Christmas Day we continued our way towards the San José airport to fly to Bogota and Santiago de Chile where Rodolfo’s friend Mario could help us find a motor home, how lucky!


Costa Rica

Corcovado National Park

In this post we use some pictures of Rodolfo, the spotting scope expert.