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Discover Tapir’s Trail in Drakes Bay, Costa Rica

When the forest speaks, Gustavo listens. He hears calls from birds and insects, rustling treetops from monkeys and sloths, and the drooping of leaves from hiding frogs.

Gustavo holding the snake on a stick on Tapir's Trail.
Nice viper. Gustavo holds the poisonous fer-de-lance before setting it free.

Gustavo is happiest while leading small groups of two to six on his premier Tapir’s Trail in the state preserve that borders the more popular Corcovado National Park in Drake’s Bay. A road to the trailhead,  built as recently as 2014 for children to get to school, has not increased access. Hiking this trail is guaranteed to be private with any other groups taking a different path.

Tapirs Trail sign.
Authentic. The Taper’s Trail offers a guided tour through the jungle. It is tailored to your request, but be careful what you ask for.

The brain relaxes as the “forest pheromones” connect humans with jungle residents. The underground network of decomposing fungi communicates and commands the forest, possibly through the timed release of nutrients, to bloom, grow taller, and conserve water.

Woman crossing a creek.
Downpour. Even in the rain it is humid. Bring an umbrella not a jacket or poncho.

Decomposing the forest floor is a big job for the network of mushrooms. But there is help from the army and leaf cutter ants that travel great distances to bring fresh leaves to their hives that feed the fungus below. The Ceiba, a Mayan tree of rebirth that produces cottony fuzz, is but one payoff from their efforts to recycle the forest nutrients. Another is the giant Campano tree that drops bell-shaped Christmas ornaments decorated by the native Diquis culture.

A glass frog on a leaf.
Transparent frog. A glass frog can concrete its red blood cells in its liver to camouflage itself.

Gustavo will customize your experience to make it easy or extreme, day or night. The night hike is a frog frenzy and with water everywhere they are not just in the usual spots like streams and ponds. Look up to find them sitting on the banana leaves or clinging to building posts. There are red eyed frogs from the cover of a National Geographic, male bullfrogs with enlarged forearms for grasping their mates, and milktruck frogs rightfully named to describe their alarming truck-horn calls.

A Fer-de-lance viper coiled up.
Potty trained. The deadly Fer-de-lance viper is coiled up behind the door of a jungle outhouse.

But it’s not all frogs. Beware of the deadly Wondering banana spider and the venomous Ferdelance viper, both thrilling to see from a distance. The evening ends with a well earned meal at a family kitchen, but this comes after thirty minutes of sitting silently in the dark while you listen to the forest speak like it does for Gustavo.

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Hi. We are Paul and Cindy, two biologists, fit and over 50, who enjoy exploring, photographing, and blogging about our outdoor travel. Our journey is to find outdoor activities that are away from crowds, kind to nature, and authentic. We carry backpacks, stay in clean accommodations, and feel that good food is as important as good friends.

The African savanna with three acacia trees.
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