Mary Gabbett readies for #EcoCostaRica flight to Corcovado National Park

Mary Gets Ready For Our Nature Air Flight to Corcovado National Park

Corcovado National Park

A Journey Into Remote #EcoCostaRica


There’s a change that washes over me every time we venture away from the city and into the remote wilderness of a place like Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica.


It’s a mental, emotional, spiritual and physiological transformation, like taking the myriad pieces of the puzzle of my soul–  which often feels discombobulated and disconnected by the daily complexities of “civilization”– and reassembling them into a perfectly congruous whole.


My senses come alive; my eyes, heart, and mind are wide open; my spirit is filled with an almost childlike awe and wonder. It is in moments like these that I feel most like the man I was always meant to be, the NATURAL me, perfectly in tune with myself and the world around me.


Bird's-Eye View of the Seaside Near Palmar Sur, Costa Rica

Bird’s-Eye View of the Seaside Near Palmar Sur, Costa Rica


As our Nature Air flight heads southeast of San Jose towards the tiny town of Palmar Sur (located near the banks of Rio Térraba in the Osa region of Puntarenas), I can feel the stress and worry being shrugged from my shoulders. It’s as if I were shedding filthy work clothes and taking a hot shower at the end of a long day.


We pass over impossibly remote mountain villages, winding rivers and, finally, the Pacific Ocean, and all thoughts of deadlines and other responsibilities begin to fade from my mind. My breathing slows, my body relaxes, and I begin to notice all the beautiful details– cotton-fluff clouds caressing a verdant hillside, the vibrant hues of water where the river meets the sea, the impeccable symmetry of an oceanside palm plantation.


Though I’ve been working like a dog and am going on less than 5 hours sleep, I find myself feeling renewed and refreshed. Or maybe that’s just the strong Costa Rican coffee…


Boat transfer from Sierpe to Casa Corcovado

(L-R) Our Guide Freddy, New Friends Dan & Casey of A Cruising Couple & the Legendary “Eagle Eye”


After a short drive from the Palmar Sur airport to the town of Sierpe, we rendezvous with our new friends Dan & Casey (of the A Cruising Couple travel blog); our Casa Corcovado Jungle Lodge guide, Freddy;  and, perhaps most importantly, our boat captain, Roberto, who is better known as “Eagle Eye.”


As we put our gear into waterproof bags for the 2-hour boat journey to the lodge, that familiar Costa Rica climate kicks in, with the heat, humidity, and dazzling play of sunlight on the water of the Sierpe River combining their powers to create a pleasant, fuzzy-brained feeling I can only compare to a fever dream.


10-Foot Crocodile on the Sierpe River, Costa Rica

Crocodile on the Bank of the Sierpe River


We’re less than 2 minutes into our journey to Corcovado National Park when “Eagle Eye” spots our first Costa Rican wildlife– a gargantuan American Crocodile (which average 12-16 feet in length) sunning himself on the muddy river bank just a few hundred yards from the dock.


He holds his ground as the captain slowly navigates the boat closer to shore, providing exceptional views of his exceptionally sharp teeth and prehistoric-looking form. After posing perfectly while Dan and I snap shutters frantically in an effort to capture his fearsome presence, he slips into the river’s murky waters, eyeing us suspiciously.


Green Heron in the Térraba-Sierpe National Wetlands, Costa Rica

Little Blue Heron in the Térraba-Sierpe National Wetlands


This river was considered sacred by Costa Rica‘s indigenous natives, who named it Sierpe (Spanish for “snake”) for the way it winds its coils through the Térraba River, creating a massive mangrove estuary now conserved as the 66,850-acre Térraba-Sierpe National Wetlands.


Local legend holds that shaman apprentices, during their last week of training, were required to go on a vision quest. After climbing 7 cascades up a mountain to collect fungus they’d use to make a hallucinogenic tea, they’d spend 7 days drinking and fasting, spending one night at each of the 7 different river mouths (the heads of the snake).


Spending time in each of these different locations was believed to impart different fields of knowledge, from astronomy and other sciences to spirituality and medicine. Only after going through this ancient rite of passage could a man become a shaman.


Mangroves of the Terraba Sierpe National Wetlands, Costa Rica

Navigating the Mangroves of the Terraba Sierpe National Wetlands


As we venture off the broad expanse of the main river and back into the mangrove estuary, it’s easy to see why the native peoples believed this enchanting area to have magical, mystical properties.


The forest canopy glows a brilliant green, with the gnarled tangles of roots creating stunning reflections on the mirror-like surface of the water. There’s a quiet stillness here, and a subtle feeling of being watched by things unseen.


Tucked away from the blinding glare of the midday sun, the narrow channels prove to be teeming with wildlife. “Eagle Eye” more than earns his nickname by spotting a veritable cornucopia of endemic Costa Rican species, many of which are tucked so far back into the sanctuary of the woods that it takes several moments to spot them, even through my 500 mm lens.


Chestnut Mandibled Toucan on Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula

A Chestnut Mandibled Toucan Watches From the Treetops


A napping Potoo (nocturnal insectivores related to Nightjars and Frogmouths) is so imperceptible, it might as well be The Predator, with camouflage allowing it to blend perfectly into the branch upon which it currently sleeps.


A young Spectacled Caiman (the much smaller relative of the crocodile) is considerably closer, lurking hidden from view under the grass along the shore less than five feet from our boat.


A flock of 5-6 Chesnut-Mandibled Toucans peers down from the trees, wary of our every shutter click. And a family of Spider Monkeys leaps like daredevils through the treetops, utterly oblivious to our presence.


Jesus Christ Lizard in the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

The Famed Jesus Christ Lizard Poses Proudly


Not all of the animals prove quite so reclusive. A Basilisk (commonly known as the Jesus Christ Lizard for its ability to run on water) suns himself on a log at eye level right by the river. A Little Blue Heron perches on a branch directly above the water, watching for easy prey. And a troop of White-Headed Capuchins skitters busily in the trees along the riverbank, testing our patience (and photography skills) as they hop busily in and out of view in their quest for fruit.


Even after we leave the dim light of the mangroves, emerge back onto the broad main river, and make our way through increasingly choppy waters that make it clear the ocean is near, the wildlife welcome wagon continues to impress. Osprey, Magnificent Frigatebirds and Brown Boobies soar overhead and alongside us, and a small pod of Pantropical Spotted Dolphins frolics playfully in front of our boat, like giddy horses leading us to some grand fete. 


White Headed Capuchin Monkey, Costa Rica

A Rare Photo of a White-Headed Capuchin Actually Sitting Still


By the time we disembark with a wet landing on the rocky beach at Casa Corcovado (a Rainforest Alliance-verified sustainable eco-lodge located right on the fringe of Corcovado National Park), my transformation from bleary-eyed workaholic to wonder-filled nature lover is finally complete.


Though the capuchins romping on the shore elude my lens and the skies suddenly open up with the sort of intense tropical deluge you rarely experience outside the rainforest, my spirit feels lighter, more carefree than it has in months. And as we sit in the lodge’s bar, savoring a welcome drink, watching hummingbirds flit about, and listening to Howler Monkeys calling in the distance, I know that, finally, I am home. –Bret Love; photos by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett



If you enjoyed this post on our journey into Corcovado National Park, you might also like:

BreatheDreamGo- The Best Day of My Life: A Travel Adventure in #EcoCostaRica

Expert Vagabond- Explore #EcoCostaRica With Me

Around the World in 80 Years- A Taste of #EcoCostaRica Wildlife

COSTA RICA: Tortuguero National Park

What is an Eco Lodge? A Guide to “Green” Accommodations

How to Choose a Green Hotel

Easy Ecotourism: 10 Simple Steps to More Sustainable Travel

The Benefits of Ecotourism: 20 Travel Bloggers on the Importance of Nature Travel

The Beauty of Nature Travel: A Blog Round-Up

43 Responses to Corcovado National Park: A Journey Into Remote #EcoCostaRica

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

Check out our NEW Fair Trade Boutique!

Fair Trade Boutique
Co-Founded by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett, Green Global Travel is an ecotourism, nature / wildlife conservation & cultural preservation magazine. More about us.

Help Support Green Global Travel!

Each time you make a purchase on using the link below, we'll earn a small percentage, at no extra cost to you.


Follow Us

As Seen In:

Destinations We’ve Covered:

Egypt- Top 5 Eco Attractions
Madagascar- Ring-tailed Lemurs at Anja Reserve
Morocco- A Journey into the Atlas Mountains
South Africa- Londolozi Game Reserve Safari
South Africa- Kruger National Park
South Africa- South Africa- Zulu Memories
Tanzania- Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

How To Get To Antarctica w/out Doing the Drake
The Haunting Beauty of Icebergs
Penguins of Antarctica
Taking the Polar Plunge
Top 5 Eco Attractions in Antarctica
Whales of Antarctica
Borneo- Sabah Ecotourism Attractions
India- Ranthambhore National Park
India- Tibetan Culture In Ladakh
Laos- The Pastoral Paradise of Muang Ngoi
Malaysia- Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre
Malaysia- Orangutan Conservation at Sepilok
Nepal- Hiking The Annapurna Circuit
Taiwan- Top 5 Eco Activities in Taipei
Thailand- Top 5 National Parks
Australia- Top 5 Eco Attractions
Australia-Kangaroo Island
Australia-Maria Island
New Zealand- Kapiti Island
New Zealand- Tongariro National Park
New Zealand- Top 5 Ecotourism Attractions
Tahiti- First Impressions
Tahiti- Photo Gallery
Tahiti- Moorea 4x4 Safari Tour
Tahiti- Moorea, Tiki Village Theater
Tahiti- Pearl Diving in Bora Bora
Tahiti- Ruahatu Marine Sanctuary, Bora Bora
Tahiti- Swimming With Sharks in Bora Bora
Tonga- Eua Island Eco Activities


Churchill- Into the Wild of Manitoba
Churchill- Polar Bear Fight
Churchill- Polar Bear Photo Gallery
Churchill- Tundra Wildlife

America’s Best Volcanoes
AL- Fishing Mobile Bay
AL- Mobile Carnival Museum
AK- Denali National Park
CA- Hiking The John Muir Trail
FL- Sanibel Island Eco Activities
FL- Crystal River, Swimming with Manatees
FL- Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge
GA- Barnsley Gardens
GA- Top 5 Autumn Activities Around Atlanta
GA- Best Christmas Light Displays
GA- Top 20 Atlanta Christmas Events
GA- Jekyll Island Eco Activities
GA- Weekend in North GA Mountains
GA- Top 5 Eco Attractions in North GA
HI- Hawaii’s Big Island
HI- Hawaiian Mythology
HI - Top 5 Kauai Nature Attractions
LA- Lafayette Cajun Food Tour
LA- Mardi Gras Indians Super Sunday
LA- Voodoo Museum
MT- Hiking Glacier National Park
NC- Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
NC- Asheville's Green Restaurants Scene
NC- Asheville's Top Ecotourism Attractions
NC- Greensboro Travel Guide
NC- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
NC- Outer Banks Wild Horses
NM- Top 5 Eco Attractions
NY- Going Green in NYC
TX- Sea Turtle Rescue, South Padre Island
WV- Outdoor Adventures
Yellowstone- Mammoth Hot Springs
Yellowstone- Lamar Valley
Yellowstone- Grand Canyon & Hayden Valley
Yellowstone- Upper Geyser Basin
Yellowstone- Lower Geyser Basin

Cancun- Cancun Underwater Museum
Cancun- Mayan Museum of Archaeology
Cancun- Swimming with Whale Sharks
Riviera Maya- Monkeys, Pyramids & Pottery
Riviera Maya- Rio Secreto
Riviera Maya- Tulum & Coba