Top

The Osa Peninsula with all its natural wonders is my favorite part of Costa Rica, so I happily accepted an invitation in December 2020 to visit Puerto Jimenez with a group of friends. 

My trip highlights, shared with insider tips, are meant to encourage Howler readers to plan your own getaway to paradise. I’m already looking forward to my next Osa adventure.

Our first full day in the peninsula began with a boat trip on the Pacific Ocean to see aquatic wildlife and sea birds. The adventure did not disappoint. Before long, the boat was surrounded by hundreds of dolphins, which swam by the boat for a long duration. We also saw sea turtles, a manta ray and many birds. 

That night, our group took a bioluminescent kayak tour. Immediately after setting out, we saw the gorgeous blue-green lights in the water where the plankton hit the paddle. Above us was a sky full of stars and below us, the entire sea lighting up from our paddles and hands in the water. It was pure magic … the magic of nature that is! 

 

On day two, the group headed to Corcovado National Park, where our hike took us through beautiful jungle and beach paths. One of the first animals we saw was a tayra, sitting quietly above us high in the tree. The tayra is difficult to see and is usually very shy and skittish around humans, so we were very lucky to spot it.

Other highlights of our park visit included seeing a group of coatis raiding a turtle nest and seeing all four monkey species at the same time. 

Night hikes can be amazing in the Osa Peninsula. There is much more wildlife activity at night than during the day, even if the animals are harder to spot. I was lucky to have help from our guide, Cesar Moraga Ruiz, during both of our late-night walks.  

It was very cool to observe all the creatures we found within a very short distance of our accommodations. We spotted and heard several owls. We also saw a venomous terciopelo snake lying across the path we were walking on. Without Cesar’s warning, I would have stepped right on the snake. Yikes!  

Osa Offers So Much At Once

For any travellers in Costa Rica wanting to see an abundance of nature and wildlife in one place, the Osa Peninsula should be at the top of your list. The region has amazing views, beautiful beaches and abundant wildlife in its primary rainforest, along with a freshwater and marine ecosystem. 

Located on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast, the Osa Peninsula is bound on the north by Drake Bay and on the east by the Golfo Dulce. According to National Geographic, it is one of the most biologically intense and diverse places on earth, containing 2 to 3% of the flora found nowhere else in the world. That’s not counting over 300 endemic species of plants and vertebrates, more than 4,000 different vascular plants and more than 10,000 different insects. The peninsula is also home to more than 700 species of trees, over 450 species of birds, 140 different mammals, and four species of sea turtles — leatherback, olive ridley, loggerhead and Pacific green. 

The Osa Peninsula area is my favorite part of Costa Rica, so I happily accepted an invitation in December 2020 to visit Puerto Jimenez with a group of friends. I recommended using my favorite guide, Cesar Moraga Ruiz, who lives in nearby Sierpe. 

My trip highlights, shared here with insider tips, are meant to encourage Howler readers to plan your own getaway to paradise. I’m already looking forward to my next Osa adventure.

Our group stayed in a gorgeous home located about 15 minutes from the town of Puerto Jimenez. We arrived in the middle of a powerful rainstorm, but that was fine as we had no plans for the night. The house was three stories and had space for our 12 group members. We spent our first night enjoying dinner, followed by salsa dance lessons, guitar playing and singing. 

Insider tips:  For a large group, it sometimes makes more sense financially to rent a house rather than booking individual hotel rooms. Lodges can be pricey in the Osa Peninsula, and our group spent far less money renting a house. If your group is housed in a remote location, it might also make sense to hire a private chef to provide meals. We chose this option for breakfast and dinner to avoid a 20-minute drive to town each time we wanted to eat. 

Aquatic spectacles

Our first full day in the peninsula began with a boat trip on the Pacific Ocean to see aquatic wildlife and sea birds. The main goal was to see dolphins. Upon arrival at the dock in Puerto Jimenez, we were greeted by Captain Don Gerardo and climbed aboard his boat. 

The adventure did not disappoint. Before long, the boat was surrounded by hundreds of dolphins, which swam by the boat for a long duration. We also saw sea turtles, a manta ray and many birds. After the boat adventure, we ate lunch at a local place at the port. It served great food and had amazing oceanside views. 

That night, our group took a bioluminescent kayak tour. I was very excited, as this was something I had never experienced and my expectations were uncertain. All I had learned was that plankton in the water would create the lights and beauty we were about to see while paddling through the mangroves and ocean. I also knew this ecosystem is very rare, typically found in warm-water lagoons with narrow openings to the sea. 

We boarded our kayaks and started paddling. Immediately, we saw the gorgeous blue-green lights in the water where the plankton hit the paddle. Above us was a sky full of stars and below us, the entire sea lighting up from our paddles and hands in the water. It was pure magic … the magic of nature that is! 

Insider tip: Even if you have never gone kayaking, do not miss this experience! Life jackets are provided. Tell the guides you are new to kayaking and they will either help you by using a two-person kayak or stay with you as you learn to paddle.

 

 

Park hike sightings

On day two, the group headed to Corcovado National Park. We chose to drive, and the road to where we would eventually park our vehicles was long, bumpy and quite treacherous. As soon as we arrived and got out of our cars, we were greeted by a few adorable squirrel monkeys in a tree. 

Insider tip: You are required to have a certified guide to explore the trails of Corcovado National Park, which comprises much of the Osa Peninsula. Even without this requirement, hiring a local guide is to your benefit. These experts are your best assurance of finding all of the most difficult-to-see nature while hiking the trails. The guides also know the best places for you to find your must-see wildlife species.

There are many ranger stations and trails you can explore in Corcovado National Park. Tell your guide what you are interested in seeing so they can direct you to the best locations for your needs.

We then started our hike, which took us through beautiful jungle and beach paths. One of the first animals we saw was a tayra, high in the tree. The tayra is difficult to see and is usually very shy and skittish around humans, so we were very lucky to spot it sitting quietly in a tree above us.

Other highlights of our park visit included seeing a group of coatis raiding a turtle nest and seeing all four monkey species at the same time. 

Insider tip:  Try to not speak loudly, or at all, while walking jungle trails. The animals will be much harder to see if they are aware of your presence. Let your guide walk in front of the group to spot wildlife and keep your distance from all wildlife. 

Nearby nightlife 

Night hikes can be amazing in the Osa Peninsula. There is much more wildlife activity at night than during the day, even if the animals are harder to spot. I was lucky to have help from our guide, Cesar, during both of our late-night walks.  

It was very cool to observe all the creatures we found within a very short distance of the house. We spotted and heard several owls. We also saw a venomous terciopelo snake that had just eaten dinner and was lying across the path we were walking on. Without Cesar’s warning, I would have stepped right on the snake. Yikes!  

The Osa Peninsula can be accessed by boat, plane and car. Talk to your guide or tour company about the best way for you to explore this area. What are you waiting for? 

 


Osa Offers So Much At Once

For any travellers in Costa Rica wanting to see an abundance of nature and wildlife in one place, the Osa Peninsula should be at the top of your list. The region has amazing views, beautiful beaches and abundant wildlife in its primary rainforest, along with a freshwater and marine ecosystem. 

Located on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast, the Osa Peninsula is bound on the north by Drake Bay and on the east by the Golfo Dulce. According to National Geographic, it is one of the most biologically intense and diverse places on earth, containing 2 to 3% of the flora found nowhere else in the world. That’s not counting over 300 endemic species of plants and vertebrates, more than 4,000 different vascular plants  and more than 10,000 different insects. The peninsula is also home to more than 700 species of trees, over 450 species of birds, 140 different mammals, and four species of sea turtles — leatherback, olive ridley, loggerhead and Pacific green. 

Mammal inhabitants of Corcovado National Park include all four of the monkey species in Costa Rica — capuchin, howler, squirrel, and spider monkeys. Some park visitors even manage to see all four monkeys on the same occasion, which is very rare. The park is home to two species of sloths, as well as wild cats, tapirs, anteaters, deer, pacas, peccaries, agouti, tayra, and much more. 

A wide variety of reptiles and amphibians may be seen in Corcovado National Park: caimans, crocodiles, iguanas and many kinds of lizards and snakes, along with several kinds of dart, glass and tree frogs, and salamanders. 

Corcovado National Park rewards birders with sightings of numerous species, including trogons, hummingbirds, a large population of scarlet macaws, parrots, parakeets, vultures and many more. Closer to the coastline, you will see more of the waterbirds and shorebirds such as egrets, herons and kingfishers. 

See this article in the magazine

Open in full screen and unmute the video.

Enjoy the audiovisual story!

post a comment

7 + 3 =