Drake Bay

The bay on the Osa Peninsula, named after the English sailor, is a natural paradise and starting point for visiting the Corcovado National Park.

The Drake Bay at the northwest end of the Osa Peninsula is one of the most remote regions of the country with largely unspoilt nature. Only a few small settlements interrupt the dense green of the tropical primary forest and the development of tourism has also remained within reasonable limits over the years and is largely oriented according to ecological standards. From the lodges and cabañas that line up along the beaches that surround the bay, visitors can take long walks along the coastline. Only narrow strips of sand and a few rocks separate the jungle from the sea. Both the rainforest and the waters of the peninsula are home to an unparalleled biodiversity. Experts estimate that the entire tropical insect ecosystem from Mexico to Panama is native to the Osa Peninsula.

The highlight of a trip to the south of Costa Rica is a visit to the Corcovado National Park. It includes the only primary rainforest on the Pacific side of Central America and 13 major ecosystems, including lowland rainforest, highland cloud forest, the rare Jolillo palm forest, mangrove swamps, and coastal and marine habitats. Visitors to the park have a good chance of encountering some of Costa Rica’s shyest species such as tapirs, jaguars, arakangas, harpyes, squirrel monkeys and white-bearded peccaries. Among the vegetation of the national park, you will first be impressed by the up to 60 m high primeval forest giants, whose trunks are often entwined with climbing plants. Typical rainforest inhabitants are also epiphytes. They colonize trunks, branches, twigs and even leaves, but without exploiting their hosts. Among them are bromeliads, mosses, lichens and orchids, each of which has developed special techniques to make efficient use of the scarce supply of nutrients and water in the upper tree regions. For example, epiphytically living mosses and lichens literally suck water when it rains, while other plants form their leaves and flowers funnel-shaped. Some bromeliad species, for example, can absorb up to 50 litres in their leaf basins. This load often causes branches to break off after heavy rainfall. Some plants, such as the strangler fig, begin as epiphytes and then become parasites that eventually kill the host tree. Under favourable conditions, the seeds of the strangler fig contained in bird droppings begin to sprout in the canopy of a tree. By and by, aerial roots form, some of which hang freely, some of which surround the trunk and grow towards the forest floor. When they reach the forest floor, they now obtain nutrients from the soil; the crown of the fig grows steadily and its roots become woody stems. These then wrap so tightly around the trunk of the host tree that its main veins are tied off.

The visit of the Corcovado National Park is often difficult despite good trails due to extreme humidity and high rainfall. Visitors coming by boat to the park from Drake Bay usually concentrate on the area around the San Pedrillo Ranger Station. Another popular tour leads to the offshore island Isla de Caño, whose waters are also excellent for diving and snorkeling.