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Costa Rica's Corcovado National Park
Located on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica, Corcovado National Park represents the largest remaining tract of lowland forest on the Pacific Coast of Central America, making it one of the most important protected areas in all of Central America. Corcovado offers great potential as an example of successful conservation, and the park has become an important international research center for the study of tropical rainforest ecology.
Biologist Peter Raven describes the area as a place that will “help to provide an ecological baseline for moist lowland forest, not only for Costa Rica, but for Latin America in general.”
Corcovado National Park, know as the Amazon of Costa Rica, is the largest stronghold of primary forest on a Pacific coastline that has been all but destroyed from Mexico to South America. Its 41,788 hectares encompass eight habitats, from mangrove swamp and jolillo palm grove to mountain forest. The park protects more than 400 species of birds (20 are endemic), 116 of amphibians and reptiles, and 139 of mammals--representing 10 percent of the mammals in the Americas--on only 0.000101777 percent of the landmass. Its healthy population of scarlet macaws (about 1,200 birds) is the largest concentration in Central America. You can expect to see large flocks of macaws in flight or feeding on almond trees by the shoreline.
Corcovado is a good place to spot the red-eyed tree frog (listen for his single-note mating "cluck"), the glass frog with its transparent skin, and enamel-bright poison-arrow frogs. And you can watch fishing bats doing just that over rivers at night. You can even try your own hand for snook inside the mouths of the coastal rivers on incoming tides. They strike plugs all year and during the fall become very aggressive.
Corcovado is one of only two places in the country that harbor squirrel monkeys (the other is Manuel Antonio). It's also one of the last stands in the world for the harpy eagle, although it hasn't been seen here in the last several years and may now be extinct in Costa Rica. As recently as the 1970s, tapirs were so numerous around Lago Corcovado that squatters were killing them just for fun. Four species of sea turtles--green, Pacific ridley, hawksbill, and leatherback--nest on the park's beaches. And the park supports a healthy population of big cats and crocodiles, which like to hang around the periphery of the Corcovado Lagoon. Jaguar paw prints are commonly seen in the mud trails, and the cats are often sighted.
The Osa Peninsula bears the brunt of torrential rains from April to December. It receives up to 400 cm per year. The driest months, January-April, are the best times to visit.