This region has amazing sceneries with beaches, mountain zones, valleys and exuberant tropical rainforests. Here you will find most of the protected zones and native reserves of Costa Rica, as well as pre-Columbian archaeological traces.
It extends from the banks of the Rio Baru, south from the Manuel Antonio National Park, to Punta Burica in the border with Panama. This includes the Golfo Dulce and the Peninsula of Osa, and from the western part of the Talamanca Mountain Range to the Pacific coast.
This zone shelters the impressive Corcovado National Park, which has an extraordinary biodiversity that has been recognized by the National Geographic magazine. It has high rainfall indexes and a great variety of flora and fauna in its 42.469 land hectares and 5.575 marine hectares.
It has mountain forests and swamp forests that remain flooded almost all year long, like the Lagoon of Corcovado. There’s also a very large mangrove swamp formed by the estuaries of the rivers Llorona, Corcovado and Sirena.
Here you will find a wide variety of habitats that shelter its wild flora and fauna, which group the fourth part of all the tree species found in the country, more than 140 species of mammals, 367 types of birds and 117 kinds of amphibians and reptiles.
Another of the main attractions of this region is its irregular coast, with beautiful beaches surrounded by vegetation like Playa Dominical, with strong waves that make it popular among surfers. There’s also the peaceful Playa Uvita, with the Mangrove Swamp of Uvita, an ecosystem rich in wildlife, especially visited by sea birds.
Playa Ballena is part of the Ballena National Marine Park, visited by humpback whales and their young. They come from the north and south regions of the continent from December to April and from August to November. This place is perfect for diving and admiring the wonderful nature.
Many important rivers run through this valley, like the Grande de Terraba, the largest river of the country, which is 160 km long and echoes from several kilometers away. It begins its course from the Talamanca Mountain
Range and flows into the plains of Diquis, in Boca Coronado. At the end of its course it connects with the Rio Sierpe, which results in the formation of a complex net of mangrove swamps and channels, the Terraba – Sierpe National Wetland.
This place is also known as the Delta of Diquis, and important native settlement. These old populations made crafts with great detail: gold pieces, pottery, stone sculptures and almost perfect stone spheres in many sizes. These spheres have an impressive finish, unique in the world, and have gained the interest of scientists and a great popularity.
Towards the south you will find Drake Bay, the main header of tourism development in the Peninsula of Osa. Its beaches are enclosed among rocky formations and it was named after the legendary English pirate Sir Francis Drake, who anchored in this bay in 1579. This is the starting point to different natural attractions, where you must use a boat for transportation.
In front of its coast you will see the Isla del Caño Biologic Reserve, which protects marine ecosystems, about 15 coral species and trees like the vaco, from where white latex is extracted. Several stone spheres of different sizes have also been found here, without any explanation of how they got there. It is a special destination for those who enjoy diving.
In the center you will find the Valley of El General, surrounded by evergreen forests, hills and plantations. The city of San Isidro del General was established here, which is currently the most developed city of the south zone of Costa Rica. This place has all the facilities you need and serves as starting point to visit many tourist destinations that the zone offers.
Parallel to the Valley of El General, the road that goes to the south region of the country reveals captivating panoramic views in different points. The Cerro de la Muerte (Hill of Death) has a moor forest, composed of short vegetation that tolerates strong winds and low temperatures typical of high altitudes above 3.000 m. In the Alto de la Asuncion you can see both oceans during clear weather.
Heading towards the highest parts of the South Pacific, in the mountains of the Talamanca Mountain Range, you will find the Chirripo National Park, which begins with altitudes of 1.400 m. It has viewpoints, glacial lagoons (Las Morenas and the lagoon of San Juan) and rocky formations known as the Crestones.
Here is where the maximum height of Costa Rica is located, the Chirripo Peak, at 3.820 m above sea level. From here you can also see both oceans during clear weather.
La Amistad International Park is located next to this park, declared World Heritage Site. It is a mountain system that includes territories of Costa Rica and Panama. It includes the Tapanti National Park, the Chirripo National Park, the Hitoy – Cerere Biologic Reserve, the Barbilla National Park and other forest and native reserves.
Other protected zones found here are the Rio Piro National Refuge, the Golfo Dulce Forest Reserve and the Guaymi Native Reserve of the Peninsula of Osa. All of them are part of the Osa Conservation Area.
In this south end of Costa Rica, you can also find the town of Golfito, located inside the Piedras Blancas National Park, unique town in the country located inside a protected area. From here you can visit the Corcovado National Park by land, in direction to Puerto Jimenez, first passing the exit for Chacarita and bordering the Golfo Dulce, or also by boat. Both routes display incredible charms for their visitors.