Costa Rica has no shortage of natural beauty. No matter where you find yourself, you can expect to have your breath taken away. The wildlife is abundant and the rainforests are enchanting. Still, if there is an ultimate destination in Costa Rica for people who love hiking and want to immerse themselves in nature, it is Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula.
The first time I visited Costa Rica, many years ago when I still had my youth but nothing in my wallet, I had to pass on a visit to the Osa Peninsula. It’s not so difficult or expensive to reach as to be impossible, even for the budget traveller, but it was just far enough out of reach for me at that time.
So when Laura and I decided to go to Costa Rica for our honeymoon, I knew we couldn’t miss out on a visit to Corcovado.
Was it worth the time and effort? Was it as spectacular as everyone said it would be? Are you just dying with anticipation to know? I’m afraid I can not answer that for you. After all the planning was done, we had the unfortunate luck of visiting Costa Rica at the same time as Hurricane Otto.
That’s a story in itself, but suffice it to say, we were not about to let a hurricane stop us from seeing the wild glory of the Osa Peninsula. The roads to Corcovado were washed out, but we managed to finagle a hike on the outskirts of the park at Finca La Tarde. This hike alone created some priceless memories, making a visit to the Osa well worth the effort of getting there.
Finca La Tarde Hike
We had already done an amazing night hike with Marcelo through Osa Aventura, so we organised with them again. I thought, “For sure, they’re not going to agree to take us out in this weather,” but agree they did. It’s one thing to say you’re not going to let endless amounts of rain stop you from going out, and it’s another thing to keep your word and actually get out there, but it’s a whole other thing altogether for nature to decide to show up in shit weather too.
Laura was thrilled to finally get her chance to see a sloth – her number one bucket list goal for this trip. I had promised her up-close and personal encounters with nature and guaranteed a sloth sighting. “I wouldn’t be surprised if you tripped over one,” was more or less what I told her. Her dreams were finally going to come true!
Indeed, a sloth was the first animal we saw on our hike. Hardly ten minutes into the hike, we were already drenched from the pouring rain and covered in mud from having slipped and fallen shortly after getting out of the vehicle. The look of disappointment on Laura’s face when Marcelo pointed out a sloth a million miles up a tree, nowhere near us, huddled in a ball to keep the rain off, almost broke my heart. This was her first outing in Costa Rica and probably what she thought the rest of our honeymoon was going to be like. (It got better later, don’t worry:)
Despite the awful weather, we did get to see some wildlife. Our guide pointed out, and to his credit, thoroughly searched, areas where frogs usually appear in abundance. Alas, we were not rewarded with glimpses of brightly coloured and toxic amphibians. However, his skill in the jungle allowed him to find a leaf litter frog so tiny and well camouflaged that even if it hadn’t been raining, I don’t know how anyone who isn’t magic could have spotted it. He also pointed out rain frogs and one species of poison dart frog, as well as kites (the birds), ant birds, army ants, and lizards I can’t remember the names of.
It’s easy to feel disappointed when you have set your expectations so high, but honestly, walking through primary rainforest with ancient trees and strangler figs so large you would think they were trees, all while the rain patters through the canopy, was a magical experience. Excitement is great, but some adventures are meant to be carried out at a slower pace. With no other tourists around, we had the space to simply stop and breath the air we share with some truly outstanding and beautiful plants. We tasted the sap of one tree that had the flavour of marshmallows. Another tree had flammable sap that could be used to start fires, even in the damp rainforest. Perhaps we didn’t leave with Instagram worthy photos of frogs, but we did get to stand quietly in the forest, feel the rain on our skin, and understand how lucky we were to be alive in a world with so much beauty.
More about Finca La Tarde
Finca La Tarde is a family operated farm. If you choose, for an extra $15, you can have a lunch prepared for you. Even if you bring your own food, the views from the dining area are absolutely stunning. Hummingbirds feed on nearby flowers and the house ocelot, that’s right I said ocelot, may try to steal your sandwich. Orphaned as a kitten, the ocelot was raised semi-wild on the farm. She behaves much like a normal house cat, but has sharper teeth and claws.
Marcelo, who is a biologist who works at La Tarde, also showed us his snake collection. I don’t know how I feel about a room full of venomous reptiles, but he had a beautiful collection of snakes including pit vipers, eyelash vipers, fer-de-lance, and a rainbow boa. These would be the only snakes we would see in Costa Rica, and it was kind of him to allow us a close-up look at these mesmerising animals.
If you want to do this hike, or any outdoor excursion through Osa Aventura, simply ask at your accommodation. Puerto Jimenez is a small town and Mike Boston, who runs the company, is well-known. As these tours are often organised on the fly, make sure you know what you are paying for beforehand. We were surprised with an extra cost of $70 for the 4×4 to take us up and down the mountain. It was an adventurous ride through washed out roads by a skilled driver, but still a lot of money we weren’t expecting to spend. The total price for this tour, including the first taxi to get you near the mountain, the 4×4 taxi, and the guide (who we had all to ourselves, by the way) was about ₡60,000 CRC/$105 USD per person.
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