How to hike Costa Rica’s pristine Osa Peninsula

Situated on the Pacific coast, close to Costa Rica’s border with Panama, the Osa Peninsula should be on every nature lover’s bucket list. Touted as the most biologically intense place on Earth, it crams an astounding 2.5 per cent of the planet’s biodiversity into an area roughly twice the size of Hong Kong. More than three-quarters of it is protected, mostly by the Corcovado National Park, home to scarlet macaws, jaguars, tapirs and an astonishing array of other fauna and flora.

By developing three distinct hiking trails through the area around Corcovado, each one connecting locally owned accommodation and attractions, the locals are able to promote destination packages, instead of individual businesses. The Camino de la Selva (“jungle trail”) focuses on Osa’s rich plant life, the Camino del Agua (“water trail”) traverses the picturesque Drake Bay coastline and the Camino del Oro (“gold trail”) passes through land with a long history of gold mining.

Those hiking the Caminos de Osa soon find that life in the remote Costa Rican campo (“countryside”) moves at a very different pace. The phone network is patchy, working Wi-fi an even rarer commodity.

“There are jaguars on the Osa Peninsula, but it’s incredibly rare to see one,” says one local. “A puma or ocelot is more likely. Either way, one thing you won’t be short of here is close encounters with wildlife.”

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