Caletas Bay and Corcovado National Park

Mar 14, 2020 - National Geographic Quest

I love my country. I love its people and food and more than anything else, its natural resources. After 29 years as a guide for Central America, especially Costa Rica and Panama, traveling widely around the world with the work I do (I am also a tropical biologist), the Osa Peninsula is my uncontested favorite. Not a single time in my life have I come here and not be wowed by its lush forest, green waters, blue mountains and unmatched biodiversity.

Our itinerary was split between two destinations: This morning we disembarked onto Caletas Bay, owned by our friend Banbam (Enrique), and in the afternoon we went to one of the Estacion San Pedrillo ranger station.

Choices this morning: A wonderful horseback ride to Rio Claro, a two-mile hike to Agujitas River, a longer paced hike through the forested trails of Caletas Wildlife Refuge, or a casual tour of the wildlife refuge’s gardens. We loved all, coming back with unforgettable wildlife sightings, including a mother three-toed sloth with her baby, a bird eating snake straight from the trail, and a lot of bird sightings such as riverside wrens and black-hooded antshrikes.

With the afternoon came the icing on the cake: Corcovado National Park. Again, more opportunities: walking the longer, more strenuous trail to the San Pedrillo Waterfall, and a waterhole to come with it or the Pargo River trail to explore the lowland forests. What a way to finish our trip! From army ants, to basilisks, to pale-billed woodpeckers, howler-, spider- and white-throated capuchin monkeys, to the very scarcely seen Central American Tapir. We could not have asked for a better last day in our trip, and an amazing way to say farewell to Central America, for the time being.

  • Send

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.

Get our newsletter

Join us for updates, insider reports & special offers.

Privacy Policy