40 • Vacations
Fall 2018 • 41
Walking theWildSide in
Costa Rica is a nature lover’s dream destination.
During a two-week trip, writer Mariellen Ward
hiked in a remote national park, around an active
volcano, in a biological reserve, and through
a cloud forest.
By Mariellen Ward
I’m walking on the wild side in Costa Rica’s most remote and
unspoiled national park. The jungle trail is a bit slippery with
moisture from the surrounding rainforest, and it’s surprisingly
dark. Sunlight filters through the thick canopy, creating dappled
splotches on the verdant forest floor. Yet somehow our guide sees
Costa Rica’s most dangerous venomous snake, the fer-de-lance,
coiled up beside the path asleep. He says the snake is digesting and
therefore not dangerous at that moment, much to our relief.
We continue walking to a waterfall, and take our hiking boots
off to splash among the slippery, black rocks. I’m in Corcovado
National Park, the most biologically intense place on earth in terms
of biodiversity, according to National Geographic. It comprises 13
major ecosystems, including mangrove swamps, a highland cloud
forest, and the last old growth rainforest on the Pacific coast of
Central America. Corcovado is also home to some of Costa Rica’s
endangered species such as jaguars, three-toed sloths, Baird’s
tapirs, and red-backed squirrel monkeys.
We hike up to the highest point for a
commanding view of the hilly island
and the turquoise sea that surrounds it,
filled with coral reefs and an enormous
number of marine animals.
JESUS CHRIST LIZARD ©BILL RYAN
WHITE-FACED CAPUCHIN MONKEY.©CRITTERMOMENTS.COM
RED-BACKED SQUIRREL MONKEYS ©BARBARA RYAN
RED-EYED TREE FROG ©BILL RYAN