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Peninsula de Osa & Golfon Dulce

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© Lonely Planet Publications
394

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History

This remote enclave in the extreme southwestern corner of the country is regarded by
locals and tourists alike as the most picturesque, the most pristine and the most perfect
spot in Costa Rica. Centered on Parque Nacional Corcovado, which contains one of the
continent’s last remaining patches of Pacific rain forest, and shaped by the serene waters
of the wildlife-rich Golfo Dulce, the entire peninsula operates as a vast biological corridor.
Not surprisingly, National Geographic famously labeled Osa as ‘the most biologically intense
place on earth.’
Although much of the rain forest in Costa Rica is protected by the national park system,
no other region of the country can offer the breadth and extent of wildlife found in Osa. In
Corcovado, it’s sometimes possible to see all four native species of monkey swinging in the
canopy overhead, while rare animals such as Baird’s tapir can become commonly spotted
finds. Indeed, the Osa peninsula is Costa Rica at its finest, and striking evidence that there
is an intrinsic value and beauty of the rain forest that is worth saving.
Beyond Corcovado, the Osa peninsula captivates travelers with its abandoned wilderness
beaches, world-class surf and endless opportunities for rugged exploration. In a country
where adventure is all too often downgraded and packaged for tourist consumption, Osa
is the real deal. Simply put, it’s a place for travelers with youthful hearts, intrepid spirits and
a yearning for something truly wild. If you’ve been growing old in a concrete jungle, spend
some time in this verdant one – just be sure to bring a good pair of boots, a sturdy tent
and some serious quantities of bug spray!

While the Guaymí were the earliest inhabitants of the Osa (for more information see
boxed text, p408), the vast majority of the
peninsula was never populated or developed
by Ticos. In fact, because of the remoteness
of the region, commercial logging was never
a threat until the early 1960s.
Although this tumultuous decade saw the
destruction of much of Costa Rica’s remaining primary forests, Osa was largely spared.
By 1975 however, international companies
were greedily eyeing the peninsula’s natural
resources, namely its vast timber and gold
reserves. Fortunately, these ill-conceived
ambitions were halted when researchers
petitioned President Daniel Oduber to establish a national park. Following the creation of Parque Nacional Corcovado, Oduber
received the...
PENÍNSULA DE OSA &
GOLFO DULCE
PENÍNSULA DE OSA &
GOLFO DULCE
lonelyplanet.com PENÍNSULA DE OSA & GOLFO DULCE •• History
This remote enclave in the extreme southwestern corner of the country is regarded by
locals and tourists alike as the most picturesque, the most pristine and the most perfect
spot in Costa Rica. Centered on Parque Nacional Corcovado, which contains one of the
continent’s last remaining patches of Pacific rain forest, and shaped by the serene waters
of the wildlife-rich Golfo Dulce, the entire peninsula operates as a vast biological corridor.
Not surprisingly, National Geographic famously labeled Osa as ‘the most biologically intense
place on earth.’
Although much of the rain forest in Costa Rica is protected by the national park system,
no other region of the country can offer the breadth and extent of wildlife found in Osa. In
Corcovado, it’s sometimes possible to see all four native species of monkey swinging in the
canopy overhead, while rare animals such as Baird’s tapir can become commonly spotted
finds. Indeed, the Osa peninsula is Costa Rica at its finest, and striking evidence that there
is an intrinsic value and beauty of the rain forest that is worth saving.
Beyond Corcovado, the Osa peninsula captivates travelers with its abandoned wilderness
beaches, world-class surf and endless opportunities for rugged exploration. In a country
where adventure is all too often downgraded and packaged for tourist consumption, Osa
is the real deal. Simply put, it’s a place for travelers with youthful hearts, intrepid spirits and
a yearning for something truly wild. If you’ve been growing old in a concrete jungle, spend
some time in this verdant one – just be sure to bring a good pair of boots, a sturdy tent
and some serious quantities of bug spray!
Península de Osa &
Golfo Dulce
History
While the Guaymí were the earliest inhabit-
ants of the Osa (for more information see
boxed text, p408 ), the vast majority of the
peninsula was never populated or developed
by Ticos. In fact, because of the remoteness
of the region, commercial logging was never
a threat until the early 1960s.
Although this tumultuous decade saw the
destruction of much of Costa Rica’s remain-
ing primary forests, Osa was largely spared.
By 1975 however, international companies
were greedily eyeing the peninsula’s natural
resources, namely its vast timber and gold
reserves. Fortunately, these ill-conceived
ambitions were halted when researchers
petitioned President Daniel Oduber to es-
tablish a national park. Following the crea-
tion of Parque Nacional Corcovado, Oduber
received the Albert Schweitzer Award from
the Animal Welfare Institute for his much
applauded actions.
In recent years, the peninsula has attracted
the attention of gringos who want to trade in
their workaday world for a piece of paradise.
Prime real estate is being snatched up, and
it’s inevitable that things are set to change
in Osa as they have in the rest of Costa Rica.
However, there is hope that development
will be more sustainable in this part of the
country, particularly since there is a vested
interest in keeping the peninsula green. For
a local’s perspective on the changes in the
region, see p438 .
Climate
The Osa peninsula has two drastically dif-
ferent seasons: the rainy season and the dry
season. During the rainy season (mid-April
to mid-December), the amount of precipi-
tation is astounding, with most months
boasting more than 500mm. Even in the dry
season, better described as the ‘less rainy sea-
son,’ you can expect a good downfall every
now and again, especially while trekking
through Corcovado.
Parks & Reserves
As the country’s premier ecotourism des-
tination. The Península de Osa is home to
a plethora of parks, reserves and wildlife
refuges.
Humedal Nacional Térraba-Sierpe ( p397 ) Approxi-
mately 33,000 hectares of protected mangrove wetlands
that is home to numerous species of aquatic birds.
Parque Nacional Corcovado ( p416 ) This park occupies
a great bulk of the peninsula, is Osa’s crown jewel and one
Costa Rica’s last true wilderness areas.
Parque Nacional Isla del Cocos ( p441 ) The island from
Jurassic Park is equally as difficult to access as it is visually
stunning and utterly pristine.
Parque Nacional Piedras Blancas ( p435 ) Formerly
known as Parque Nacional Esquinas, this contains one of the
last remaining stretches of lowland rain forest in the country.
Refugio Nacional de Fauna Silvestre Golfito ( p432 )
This tiny 2810-hectare reserve surrounding the town of
Golfito is home to rare cycads, or living plant fossils.
Reserva Biológica Isla del Caño ( p397 ) A tiny marine
and terrestrial park in Bahía Drake that is a popular
destination for snorkelers, divers and biologists.
Reserva Forestal Golfo Dulce ( p407 ) On the northern
shore of Golfo Dulce, this is an important biological corridor
for migrating wildlife.
Reserve Indígena Guaymí ( p407 ) This reserve is home
to the vast majority of the peninsula’s indigenous commu-
nities, though most of the reserve is not open to tourism.
Dangers & Annoyances
The greatest hazard in the Osa is the difficult
environment, particularly in Parque Nacional
Corcovado. Trails are generally well marked,
but it can be difficult going at times, especially
if you’re not accustomed to wilderness navi-
gation. Also, the many large rivers that run
through the park create their own hazards,
especially if they’re running swift in the rainy
season. Any help at all, much less medical
help, is very far away – if you get lost out here,
you have a serious problem on your hands.
To minimize these risks, it’s recom-
mended that you explore Corcovado either
as part of an organized tour or with the help
of a local guide. Hiring a knowledgeable
guide will also provide up-to-date informa-
tion on potential hazards, and it provides
safety through numbers.
Areas of Corcovado are also prime ter-
ritory for the deadly fer-de-lance snake.
The chance of getting a snakebite is re-
mote, but you should be careful – always
wear boots while walking in the forest.
Although they don’t carry Lyme Disease,
ticks are also everywhere in Corcovado. In
reality, they’re nothing more than nuisance,
though you’d be wise to bring a good pair
of tweezers and a few books of matches. If
you’re not traveling with a buddy, a pocket
mirror will also help as these little buggers
have a habit of turning up in some rather
uncomfortable places.
© Lonely Planet Publications
HIGHLIGHTS
Testing your survival skills by trekking across
Parque Nacional Corcovado ( p416 ), the
country’s premiere wilderness experience
Exploring the dense jungles that fringe the
crystalline waters of Bahía Drake ( p399 )
Catching a ride on the world’s longest left
break at the undiscovered surfing paradise
that is Pavones ( p439 )
Watching the sun rise over the Golfo Dulce
and the sun set over the Pacific from the
deserted beaches on Cabo Matapalo ( p413 )
Diving off the coastlines of the far-flung Isla
del Cocos ( p441 ), the onscreen location of
Jurassic Park
Drake
Bahía
Corcovado
Parque Nacional
Pavones
(550km)
Cocos
To Isla del
Cabo Matapalo
394 395
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