Kids and adults love a good adventure!
If your planning a family getaway that will excite the kids and amaze the parents, Corcovado National Park on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula is sure to delight everyone.
It’s exciting for families to explore the heart of a tropical jungle together, and to see exotic wildlife in it’s natural habitat.
Hiking in the tropical rainforest together as a family can help to build a foundation of love for the outdoors and create family experiences that will be remembered over a lifetime.
Hiking in the tropical rainforest jungle with kids and young adults is different experience than with a group of only adults. Kids hike slower, their perspective is from a place closer to the ground. Kids are curious and have many questions about the new environment. There is a real joy in discovering the jungle from a young persons point of view.
The most important consideration in undertaking a long hike with children is to keep them engaged and interested through out the hike. One great way to keep them engaged is to keep a list of all wildlife encountered, and then to review the list together over dinner.
Both kids and adults will be amazed at the number of different species that they found in the forest. There are many games that can be played on the trail together to keeps kid’s engaged, another good one is to pick a letter and search for things in the jungle that start with that letter. For example, the letter is M, and they spot Macaw, Monkey, Motmot, Morpho, etc.
It’s important to remember that kids and young adults have different abilities and stamina and parents need to honestly assess if it’s both physically and psychologically possible for their child to make a major multi-day hike to Corcovado’s Sirena Biological Station or if a shorter day trip is more appropriate. Evaluate your child’s ability to walk on their own for 6-8 hours, and be sure your kids enjoy hiking and exploring.
The best seasons for hiking are the dry season from mid December through April and the beginning of the Green Season in May, June and July. From mid August through mid November is the thick of the rainy season. The park is closed in October due to inclement weather.
Park reservations are necessary to enter the park, even for day trips, so be sure to arrange your reservation through the park office or your guide before hand.
Two great hikes for families into Costa Rica’s Corcovado National Park both start at the La Leona Ranger Station, accessed from the small town of Carate. A third option is to charter a plane from Puerto Jimenez to fly you into the park.
1. Day trip to Rio Madrigal for kids age 6 and older and adults who prefer shorter walks
This hike starts in the morning at the La Leona Ranger Station, and takes hikers 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) to Rio Madrigal. Along the trail, look for scarlet macaws, monkeys, morpho butterflies, mushrooms, and other flora and fauna.
While this hike can be made without a guide, guides are recommended as they can spot, share and explain the natural ecosystem and animals to the entire family. Bring a picnic lunch and your swimwear for a refreshing river swim and then hike back out to the La Leona Ranger Station in the afternoon.
2. Multi-day adventure (3 or 4 days) to Sirena Biological Station for kids ~12 years old and up and adults who enjoy serious hiking
This multi-day hike also starts in the early morning at the La Leona Ranger Station and takes hikers 17 kilometers (10 miles) from La Leona to Sirena Biological Station. Along the trail your guide will point out a wide range of flora and fauna from the forest floor all the way up into the rainforest canopy. This hike should not be made without a family friendly guide, as there are several river crossings and beach outcrops to navigate in collaboration with the tides.
Day one is spent hiking to Sirena Biological Station, the middle day(s) are spent exploring the network of trails around Sirena, and can include river swimming, waterfalls, and nature walks, and the final day is spent hiking out to La Leona Ranger Station.
3. Charter a plane into Sirena Biological Station
A third option for families not able to hike into Sirena Biological Station is to charter a plane from Puerto Jimenez (seats 6) to fly in / and or / out of the park. This option skips the day long hike, and offers amazing arial views of the Osa Peninsula. The landing on the grass airstrip in the middle of the jungle is another experience you’ll not soon forget.
Hikes along the La Leona Trail meander from beach to forest, so be sure to bring plenty of water (3 liters per person is recommended), a hat and good sunscreen for this expedition.
Tips Before the Trip:
- get your kids outdoors often to look around for the small stuff - insects, fungus, birds
- let kids participate in practicing their hiking skills before the big trip.
- share maps, pictures of animals, insects and plants found in the tropical rainforest
- express and share your own sense of excitement with your kids
Tips During the Trip:
- bring plenty of snacks to eat and water to drink
- give kids their own daypack or camelpack filled with water, emergency whistle, flashlight and snacks
- emphasize fun: spotting exotic wildlife, funny plants, or river swimming is always fun
- embrace the pace set by the kids, stop often to let kids rest, watch, and fuel up
- take lots of pictures to remember the fun
- let kids be kids and be prepared to change the plan if it’s not working
What to bring:
- plenty of water
- snacks for hike in / out
- hat & swimsuit
- comfortable lightweight clothing
- sunscreen & sunglasses
- closed toe, ankle high footwear
- insect repellent
- camera / binoculars
- sheets / tent for Sirena
- flashlight / other essentials
While it’s really a hike vs a stroll through the park, hiking in Costa Rica’s Corcovado National Park is an experience of a lifetime. Corcovado is home to 5% of the world’s biodiversity and has been described by National Geographic as the most “biologicially intense” place on earth.
A trip into Corcovado will be a trip your family will never forget
Travel tip shared by Jaguardman