Corcovado National Park

Just south of Drake Bay lies the country's most complex and arguably its most popular tourist destination. Corcovado National park is home to countless animal species from the stealthy ocelots and anteaters to tapirs and chattering squirrel monkeys. The marine life adds another thrilling component to the park, with sperm whales, sharks, dolphins and crocodiles all living on the almost 6000 acres of habitat that composes the ocean section of the finest of Costa Rica national parks.

Braving the mosquitoes and snakes is not for the nonchalant - the former surround you with every step, and the latter are known to attack with little to no provocation. But if you can stand them, along with the soul-drenching humidity Corcovado Costa Rica can be the most thrilling and rewarding stop on your tour of the country. The casual visitor can make a day-trip of a visit to Corcovado National Park, but camping is allowed near one of the four ranger stations, though by reservation only, and the Sirena station has some sleeping quarters, which are difficult to come by but surprisingly inexpensive. There is also a tent camp not too far from the station - helpfully named "La Leona Tent Camp" - that also accepts reservations for travelers planning to stay more than a day.

The terrain of Corcovado Costa Rica is a maze of hills leading from empty beaches to high rain forests to the east. Most of the popular hikes will take you around the perimeter of the beach, where you will cross waterfalls, crocodile-infested rivers, high-canopy trees and a million different birds and mosquitoes. And, as always, the less noise you make, the better chance you have of spotting wildlife. So tread carefully, and not just because there are snakes camouflaged all over the forest. Many of the most beautiful creatures found in Costa Rica national parks are also the most jumpy.

But the hiking is the main attraction of Corcovado National Park, with trails ranging from simple walks along the beach to heroic treks through the deep forest. The most famous of the hikes takes you 15 miles from the Sirena station and requires you to ford a river known for its sharks. Despite this, the rest of the hike is fairly easy on the body. Another hike, only for the dedicated possibly the most difficult of those found in any of the Costa Rica National parks - takes you from the Los Patos station straight up a hill, where the elusive jaguars and tapirs are known to dwell. But this hike is the most hit-or-miss. But success is tricky - for every person who spots these mammals, you can find ten that came away with nothing but mosquito bites and a brush with dehydration to show for it.

Regardless of which hikes you choose to undertake, Corcovado Costa Rica is as challenging as wish to make it, the site of a ridiculous amount of photo opportunities and it gives every intrepid traveler a chance to investigate the country"s immaculate natural habitat in the most remote and untouched area of Costa Rica.

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