Our last leg of the trip was definitely the highlight. OK, just to set the scene, after breaking my tooth and waiting a few hours to get it patched up, we drove 3.5 hours down to Puerto Jimenez, located on the Osa Peninsula in the south. There, we checked into our room, ate dinner and packed as fast and as light as we could to get in a few hours of sleep before our 4:30 am alarm went off.
At 5:00 am, we left to meet a guide who would take us into Corcovado. Corcovado is the Costa Rica's largest national park and one of the most densely biodiverse areas in the country, hence our interest in this area. We met our guide, Alvero, and were soon on a 45 minute car ride to Karate, the closest town that boarders the park. The ride alone was pretty amazing and I felt almost fully satisfied with the wildlife we saw on our way.
After the drive, we hiked 2 km on the beach to La Leona ranger Station, where we cooled down a bit, got some water and after a bit of breakfast. This was our view:
Here are a couple of sweet shots I got of this beautiful spider monkey. Finding these guys made our count 4 out of 4 Costa Rican monkeys.
Our last leg of the very tiring hike was a long stretch along the beach. Having seen such a variety of wildlife, Alvero concentrate on finding the Tapir, Costa Rica's largest mammal. He kept leading us into the swamp areas and ducked in and out of the foliage trying to find one, always coming back with a disappointed look and an accepting shrug.
Our journey led us to Sirena Ranger Station, the only place you can stay in the park and pretty much the same distance from any of the entrances.
This view still brings me comfort. Looking out to the sunset, we had taken a nice cold shower, drank water freely and were sitting with our legs up on the wooden platforms of the station smelling our dinner being prepared. Hiking isn't the only way to get here. You can hire a boat to take you around the park and drop you off OR you can rent a private plane and have it land on the strip of grass. Our peers staying at the station that night were all backpacking looking folks and I think probably would have felt weird to be among a few that just flew in for the night.
The next morning we woke up at 4AM to get an early start, with the best odds of finding a Tapir. To be honest, after the day before, I was totally over trying to find one. If it were a cougar or a some cool raptor I might have been more game. But it was a bit tiring looking for this weird animal that I had no clue about.
We hiked mainly on the beach on the way back at a pretty decent pace. Mainly, we had to get past a few points before the rising tide trapped us on one side.
I forget what these rocks were called, but man was it scenic. I wish we had gotten stranded by the tide so we could swim out to this little island and have a picnic.
Further down the shore we spotted a black hawk perched on some branches. It seemed pretty content and unaffected by our presence. I really wanted to see it take flight, so with the gentle of help of our trusty guide, I got a few action shots.
Nearing the end of our 12 miles back, we started seeing other tourists with their guide on day hikes. Every time we passed a group, Alvero would tell them he was looking for a Tapir and if they had seen one. After a few, one of them said that he had seen one 5 minutes ago. This put some pep in our step. We came across another guide who said he had just seen one and that it was over the hill behind him. Alvero told us as fast as he could with a huge grin on his face and we were off, literally running up the hill.
And FINALLY, we saw the illusive and really weird looking Baird's Tapir. Part of the horse family, this strange cross between a pig and an anteater lives in the jungle but takes frequent swims in the ocean. We kept seeing its tracks going in and out of the water and jungle, always knowing that we had just missed it. But not this time!
After that, we saw a few more specifies before finally getting back.
I procrastinated a bit getting these photos up, but I'm actually happy that I did. It was nice revisiting our epic adventure and spending some time with these. That's it for Coast Rica (at least for this trip). Can't wait to start planning our next destination, although with the wedding ahead of us, it probably won't happen too soon.