2 Day Corcovado National Park Tour [REVIEW]

If you’re wondering, “Is hiking in Corcovado National Park worth it?” then you stumbled across the right article.

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We went on an overnight Corcovado National Park tour that let us explore and even spend a night in the tropical forest. There were lots of breathtaking sights and look-or-you’ll-miss-it moments with some of the forest’s wildlife. It was an unforgettable experience we had to share.

If you’re travelling to Costa Rica or wondering how to visit Corcovado National Park, this review will give you a glimpse of our full experience.

In Corcovado National Park, one of the most bio-diverse place in the world
In Corcovado National Park, one of the most bio-diverse place in the world
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About Corcovado National Park

Howler monkeys, tapirs, scarlet macaws, sloths, a spider monkey, or even a puma—you never know what animals might pop out to say hi when you go on one of the Corcovado hiking tours.

A quick refresher on Corcovado National Park: at 424 square kilometres, the tropical forest holds 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity. That means over 50% of all the species in Costa Rica can be found in this one national park in the Osa Peninsula! 

Corcovado has the largest primary forest on the American Pacific, as well as a cloud forest, mangrove swamp, pristine beaches, waterfalls, and lowland tropical rainforest. With so many habitats in one park, you can see why National Geographic once called it the most biologically intense place on Earth.

So how do you get started? There are lots of Corcovado National Park tours to choose from, depending on your time, budget, and preference. The most affordable option is a 7-hour Corcovado day tour, but we opted for a 2-day Corcovado overnight tour with a trusted guide from the Corcovado Info Centre. We figured setting aside 2 days would give us a better chance at spotting different animals and more time to get acquainted with Costa Rica’s beautiful natural landscapes.

So, without further ado, here’s our trip to Corcovado and a rundown of everything we found (and didn’t find—though not for lack of trying!

En route to Corcovado National Park
En route to Corcovado National Park

Getting to Corcovado National Park

Day 1 – Sirena Ranger Station

The boat bounced up and down, fighting against the waves as we climbed aboard and settled in for our hour-long boat ride to Sirena Ranger Station inside the Corcovado National Park.

It was barely 6:30am, but we were buzzing with excitement in anticipation for our 2 days inside the park.

“Every tour I lead is different,” explained our guide David from the Corcovado Info Centre at our pre-departure meeting the night before. “…But one thing I know for sure is if we look, we won’t find.” We all nodded in understanding.

“It would be so cool to see a Puma,” Max whispered into my ear as the boat sped along the Corcovado Park shoreline. “Yes, or a baby ocelot,” I added, feeling like a child en route to an amusement park. But if we look, we won’t find it.

It wasn’t long before all 12 of us were safely inside the park. Our group of 5 did the overnight tour, and the other 7 did the day trip tour. The paths from the beach veered in 2 different directions. David paused.

“Just remember,” he said, “if we look, we won’t find. Sometimes it takes hours for us to see the first animal. You never know.”

And with those words ingrained in our minds, we followed David into the park.

It was barely 8am but the sun was already hot, with the rays playfully peeking out from the canopy above. We walked in silence, our eyes peeled on the huge trees.

Suddenly, we heard a sound. A familiar roar and movement in the trees gave away our first sighting, a group of howler monkeys. We’ve seen howlers many times before (they hang out on the trees just outside of Max’s mom’s house in Playa Avellanas daily), but there was something so special about seeing them in the park. 

A few meters further, a family of coatis had claimed a tree of their own.

“It’s common to see animals like monkeys, coatis, and sloths interacting with each other here in the park. They have grown up together in this forest”

“Ooooh I want to see a baby monkey playing with a baby sloth,” I announced.

“It does happen. Maybe you’ll get lucky,” smirked David. He slowed his pace as we approached another group on the trail.

“Look up! Mom and baby sloth,” said the guide from the other group. “Top of the tree.”

There was no baby monkey beside them, but there was a baby sloth! We could only spot them through the telescope, but it was the cutest thing we’ve seen throughout our time in the park.

Over the next few hours, we continued to explore the trails near Sirena. Our efforts were rewarded with some baby caymans, a sounder of wild pigs/peccaries, a large family of spider monkeys, many more families of howlers, a family of squirrel monkeys, and lots of birds.

Visit Corcovado National Park: Trail sign to Sirena Ranger Station
Trail sign leading towards Sirena Ranger Station
Visit Corcovado National Park: Our great guide, he is a local from one of the surrounding communities
Our great guide, he is a local from one of the surrounding communities
Sirena Station at Corcovado National Park
Sirena Station at Corcovado National Park
Pizote aka Coati on a tree in Corcovado National Park
Pizote aka Coati on a tree in Corcovado National Park
Baby sloth and mama sloth hanging on a tree in Corcovado National Park
Baby sloth and mama sloth hanging on a tree in Corcovado National Park
Spider spotted in Corcovado National Park
Spider spotted in Corcovado National Park
Squirrel Monkey spotted in Corcovado
Squirrel Monkey spotted

Just before lunch…

Just before lunch, David led us to the river, where another group was lucky to spot a Baird’s Tapir, the biggest mammal in all of Costa Rica. The tapir and her baby were napping in the bushes, so we only caught a glimpse of them before heading back to the beach for a little lunch break.

3 or 4 other groups joined us on the beach, and we all dug into our pre-packed sandwiches while exchanging stories about this morning’s sightings.

Max used his free time to catch some footage from above with the drone. Surrounded by a crowd of onlookers, we flew along the beach and hovered over the river.

“Hey, guy with the drone,” I heard the voice of another guide. Worried that he might ask Max to take it down, I perked up. But that wasn’t his intention. “Look down!”, he yelled, pointing to where the jungle meets the river.

I followed his gaze and saw a Baird’s Tapir meandering out of the bushes. I grabbed the camera and ran towards him, using my longest zoom to catch him as he made his way towards the ocean. He was no more than 100 m away. I froze in complete awe. I couldn’t stop looking at him, admiring his unique features in fascination. He lingered on the beach for another few minutes and disappeared back into the bushes.

“What did I tell you, guys?” David said to our group. “If you look, you won’t find, but if you don’t look, sometimes the animals find you.”

“How common is it to see a Tapir in the park?” I asked curiously.

“We often see them sleeping like you did today, but walking along the beach like that….very rare. Just as rare as seeing a puma.”

Satisfied with our time in Sirena, we hopped back into the boat en route to San Pedrillo, our second stop of the day and our camping spot for the night.

Two tents were set up right on the beach in front of the San Pedrillo Ranger Station.

“Soon, all other visitors will leave,” David mentioned as we got off the boat, “and you will be the only ones camping here tonight.”

After another walk around San Pedrillo, we returned back to the ranger station just in time for sunset. We watched the sun set behind the horizon from the hammocks that hung outside of our tents, enjoying the explosion of colour over the ocean.

After a simple meal, we tucked into our tents, starting up into the starry sky.

“Not a bad day in the park, eh,” Max noted as we lay in our tent, reflecting on the day inside the park.

The waves were crashing against the shore, the crickets singing in unison; despite the very basic accommodation, we had no trouble falling asleep to the sounds of the jungle.

Beautiful coastline of Corcovado National Park
Beautiful coastline of Corcovado National Park
Tapir spotted at Corcovado National Park
Tapir spotted at Corcovado National Park
San Pedrillo Station, Corcovado National Park
San Pedrillo Station
Corcovado at sunset
Corcovado at sunset
Sunrise at San Pedrillo, Corcovado National Park
Sunrise at San Pedrillo
Oksana and Max, Corcovado National Park
Oksana and Max, Corcovado National Park

Day 2 – San Pedrillo Station

The next morning, we awoke before dawn and caught the sunrise on the beach about a kilometre away from the ranger station, and after another unsuccessful puma search hike, we boarded the boat back to Drake Bay.

We searched (for the puma) and we didn’t find it, but it didn’t matter. The experience of roaming the park and seeing this intrepid corner of Costa Rica up close was enough for us to mark Corcovado National Park as one of our favourite spots in all of Costa Rica.

Puma tracks? Wishful thinking...
Puma tracks? Wishful thinking…


How much does the tour cost?

There are a number of Corcovado tours to choose from that fit different budgets and schedules.

From USD $100, you can go on the San Pedrillo day tour. This is the best Corcovado day tour in terms of affordability. There are 2 walks in total that last up to six to seven hours. You’ll get views of the Southern Pacific Coast on your boat ride and get a good look at the very interesting coastal vegetation.

From USD $125, another option is a day tour to Sirena Ranger Station. A boat ride will take you to the park, where you’ll go on a 4-hour walk around the station’s extensive trails. This one also takes about six to seven hours.

From USD $165 to USD $175, there are combo tours like the Sirena/San Pedrillo Tour or the San Pedrillo/Cano Island Tour. Combos like these involve a full-day tour, such as a morning hike, lunch, and then another activity like snorkelling or hiking to the waterfalls in the afternoon.

From USD $345, you can experience an overnight tour. Choose between the Sirena Overnight Tour or the Sirena/San Pedrillo Combo Overnight Tour and spend an evening calling the tropical forest your camping site.

From USD $565, you can try a 2-night Sirena/San Pedrillo tour like the one we did. This lets you explore the most extensive trails in the park without rushing, and you can really get acquainted with the exotic wildlife.

Guide to Ecotourism in Costa Rica
The entrance of Corcovado National Park, Osa Peninsula

What’s the difference between a 1-day and a 2-day overnight tour?

Both overnight adventure tours include boat transit, an ICT bilingual guide with a telescope for wildlife spotting, and cover entrance fees, lodging fees, 3 meals a day, blankets, and other necessary camping equipment.

The main difference is the number of sites you get to explore. The 1-day tours are typically structured with a boat ride early in the morning, followed by a 3 to 4-hour hike, then lunch, and then an afternoon activity. Depending on the tour you go for, this could be a hike and then a dip at the Claro River or visiting the most pristine primary forest in Corcovado. After that, it’s dinner, then lights off. The next day, there’s time for an early morning hike and breakfast before you leave the ranger station by 12:30pm.

The 2-day tour involves a lot more hiking, but you get to visit all of the spots in Sirena/San Pedrillo without rushing. Your first day will be at Sirena, with a 3 to 4-hour hike, lunch, and another hike to Claro River. Then, a boat arrives on the second day to take you to the beach at San Pedrillo. There’s another hike to the Corcovado Backyard Lodge with time to rest, shower, or take a bath in the river. On the third day, you start the morning with an early hike, breakfast, and another 3-hour hike to the waterfall before heading to Drake Bay before noon.

The Complete Guide to Costa Rica National Parks
The beautiful coastline of Corcovado National Park

READ NEXT: Things to do in Puerto Jimenez, Osa Peninsula

Where does the tour start?

Most tours start bright and early at 6am, with an hour-and-a-half boat ride to Sirena Station.

For a more in-depth guide to visiting and hiking Corcovado National Park, check out our extensive guide here.

For More On Our Visit To Corcovado National Park, Watch Our Highlights Vlog Here:

Disclaimer: Our overnight trek to Corcovado National Park was provided courtesy of Corcovado Info Centre. As with all of our posts, all opinions expressed in this article are our own, regardless of who is footing the bill for our experience.

Would You Travel To This Intrepid Corner Of Costa Rica For A Chance To Spot Some Rare Wildlife?

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