Piedras Blancas National Park protects a section of lowland tropical rainforest near Golfo Dulce, previously damaged by deforestation and hunting. The area provides a habitat for the increasingly rare jaguar.
Along with the adjoining Golfito National Wildlife Refuge to the north, which also protects a large tract of evergreen forest, its rugged mountains are shaped by the Esquinas and Piedras Blancas rivers. Offshore, coral reefs provide excellent places to snorkel and swim. Many of the plant and animal species here are as yet unidentified, as there are indications that several indigenous tribes lived here before the Spanish arrived.
With over 200 inches of rain per year, the dense rainforest contains a number of rare trees. Although all of Costa Rica’s five felines – ocelot, margay, jaguarundi, puma and jaguar – live here, you are unlikely to encounter these elusive and nocturnal cats. However you will see toucans and scarlet macaws, kinkajous and coatis, white-faced capuchin and spider monkeys, two-toed sloths, anteaters, and many bats. The park attracts much birdlife, and is considered one of the country’s better birdwatching locations. Snakes abound, including the dangerous fer-de-lance, plus coral snakes, boa constrictors, vine snakes and pit vipers. You can see red-eyed leaf frogs, poison-arrow frogs, tree frogs, rain frogs, glass frogs and cane toads, or watch caimans in the park’s ponds and American crocodiles in the rivers and mangrove swamps. Access is via the small town of La Gamba, which lies on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast near Golfito.
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