Osa Peninsula, Caletas and Corcovado National Park

Apr 04, 2019 - National Geographic Quest

Today is the last day of the final trip of National Geographic Quest in the Central American region of Costa Rica and Panama for quite a long while. We’ve had great wildlife sightings and interactions with local Costa Rican families and the Panama Canal.

Today was an icing-on-the-cake kind of day as we explored the immaculately preserved rainforest of Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula. In the morning, we visited Caletas Wildlife Refuge owned by our dear friend Enrique, better known as Bam Bam. A buffer zone for Corcovado National Park, Caletas exhibits so much life, while still outside of Corcovado domain. While there, we spotted Central American spider monkeys, giant woody vines (or “lianas”), lots of palm plants in the understory, leaf-cutter and army ants, a 10-foot long boa constrictor, and many giant trees which are all indicative of a forest in great health.

In the afternoon, we repositioned to Corcovado forest proper. Established in 1975, this land encompasses an area of 424 square kilometers (164 square miles), covering nearly one third of the Osa Peninsula and is one of the largest parks in Costa Rica. It is certainly the crown jewel of the country’s park system, and its ecological variety is quite stunning. National Geographic once dubbed it "the most biologically intense place on Earth in terms of biodiversity." This is a wilderness of which disappointment is not does not follow. Whether one opted for the waterfall walk or trekking along the Pargo River trail, we came back with great wildlife sightings to include monkeys, birds, basilisk lizards, snakes, and coatis: all memories baring goodbye until the nest sailing season.

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About the Author

Isabel Salas Vindas


Isa Salas is a Costa Rica born biologist, who loves her country and teaching about it.  Known for her professionalism and experience in the field of animal behavior, Isa earned her master's degree in biology from the University of Costa Rica, where she also engaged in research for the chemistry and biology departments. Isa has carried out specialized projects on mantled howler monkeys for Costa Rica’s National Institute of Biodiversity (INBio), and is one of the country’s experts on howler monkey sexual and social behavior.

About the Photographer

José Calvo

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Nicknamed “Indio” (Indian) because of his powers of observation and quiet nature, José has almost two decades of experience working as a naturalist and photography guide; as well as being recognized as an expert birder and nature photographer in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is rich in biodiversity — over 893 bird species have been recorded in the country. Since very young José spent all of his free time in the outdoors in the forest, where he soon fell in love with the birds. He particularly enjoys listening to their calls, and watching their behavior. Oddly enough, another one of Jose’s passions is science and technology, and because of this, he was among the first in Costa Rica to experiment with digital photography. As the technology quickly improved so did his love for it.  He truly believes that nature photography is the perfect combination of both of his passions.

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