Corcovado National Park Hike: A Jungle Hike for the Whole Family

Kids and adults love a good adventure!

If your planning a family getaway that will excite the kids and amaze the parents, Corcovado National Park on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula is sure to delight everyone.

It’s exciting for families to explore the heart of a tropical jungle together, and to see exotic wildlife in it’s natural habitat.

One of the things to do in the park is to do a Corcovado National Park hike.

This blog post shares our experience of hiking in Corcovado National Park with kids.

Corcovado National Park hike, Costa Rica
Corcovado National Park hike

About Corcovado National Park

The Corcovado National Park is located on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica. While the park is one of the more remote in the national park system, Corcovado provides excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. 

Flora and fauna in the Corcovado N.P. 

National Geographic called Corcovado National Park the “most biologically intense place on Earth” and this is no exaggeration. All four of the monkeys species found within Costa Rica (Mantled Howler, Squirrel Monkey, Spider Monkey and White-faced Capuchin) exist in large numbers throughout the park.

  • Two crocodilians (the occasionally large and saline tolerant American Crocodile and the small Spectacled Caiman) persist within all of the park’s major waterways, as do Bull sharks.
  • The Jaguar population within the park is the healthiest in all of Central America, however it is still extremely unlikely for a visitor to spot one (most locals have never seen them either.)
  • Many other elusive cats call the park home as well, including the Puma (which is slightly smaller and more arboreal in Central American than in the United States, probably due to competition with the Jaguar,) Ocelot, Jaguarundi and Margay.
  • The park is one of the last strongholds of the Baird’s Tapir and there are hundreds within decent proximity from Sirena Station, usually found lounging in the shade or in shallow pools of stagnant water.
  • There are dozens of snake species present, many of them venomous, including the Fer-de-lance (also known as terciopelo or “Costa Rican landmine”,) the Bushmaster, the Eyelash Pit Viper, and the Coral Snake.
  • The largest snake within the park is the non-venomous Boa Constrictor.
  • Numerous other small mammals and reptiles are common within the park including, but by no means limited to, the White-nosed Coati, Sloth, Tamandua, Giant Anteater, Basilisk, and Ctenosaur.
  • Birds include the highly endangered Scarlet Macaw, the Tiger Heron, Black Vulture and the Toco Toucan, among hundreds of others including the critically endangered Harpy Eagle.

Getting there by bus

Regular bus service is available to Puerto Jimenez. Passenger truck service from Puerto Jimenez to the southern entrance at Carate occurs on a biweekly or greater basis.

The journey generally takes between 3-5 hours by road depending on weather, traffic conditions. 

Getting there by 4WD

All roads on the Osa Peninsula exhibit the disrepair characteristic of Costa Rica outside of the main tourist destinations. The road from Puerto Jimenez to Carate require a 4WD vehicle as it is a gravel road with several required river fordings.

It is recommended that this drive should only be attempted during the dry season. Note that Carate is next to the beach. Take care not to pass Carate as it is poorly marked. Parking is available by paying the store/bus stop which is Carate.

4WD Taxis are available for the passage from Puerto Jiminez to Carate. They are easy to find on the main strip of Puerto Jiminez. 

Fees and permits

Permits must be reserved in advance. You must have a permit to stay overnight at Sirena. In practice, the Park often allows campers with their own food to enter without advance reservations and prepayment, but during busy times of the year even the camping areas are filled, especially Sirena Ranger Station.

Sirena is the only ranger station that offers dormitory lodging and hot meals in addition to camping. La Leona, San Pedrillo, and Los Patos offer only camping with no food service.

It is possible to secure park permits directly from the Ranger Station in Puerto Jiménez. They also do accept credit cards now (visa/master).

Corcovado National Park Hike

Hiking in the tropical rainforest together as a family can help to build a foundation of love for the outdoors and create family experiences that will be remembered over a lifetime.

Hiking in the tropical rainforest jungle with kids and young adults is different experience than with a group of only adults. Kids hike slower, their perspective is from a place closer to the ground. Kids are curious and have many questions about the new environment. There is a real joy in discovering the jungle from a young persons point of view.

The most important consideration in undertaking a long hike with children is to keep them engaged and interested through out the hike. One great way to keep them engaged is to keep a list of all wildlife encountered, and then to review the list together over dinner.

Related Read: Bird Watching Tips for Costa Rica

Both kids and adults will be amazed at the number of different species that they found in the forest. There are many games that can be played on the trail together to keeps kid’s engaged, another good one is to pick a letter and search for things in the jungle that start with that letter. For example, the letter is M, and they spot Macaw, Monkey, Motmot, Morpho, etc. 

It’s important to remember that kids and young adults have different abilities and stamina and parents need to honestly assess if it’s both physically and psychologically possible for their child to make a major multi-day hike to Corcovado’s Sirena Biological Station or if a shorter day trip is more appropriate. Evaluate your child’s ability to walk on their own for 6-8 hours, and be sure your kids enjoy hiking and exploring.

Corcovado National Park hike details

The best seasons for doing the Corcovado National Park hike are the dry season from mid December through April and the beginning of the Green Season in May, June and July. From mid August through mid November is the thick of the rainy season. The park is closed in October due to inclement weather. 

Park reservations are necessary to enter the park, even for day trips, so be sure to arrange your reservation through the park office or your guide before hand. 

Two great hikes for families into Costa Rica’s Corcovado National Park both start at the La Leona Ranger Station, accessed from the small town of Carate. A third option is to charter a plane from Puerto Jimenez to fly you into the park.

1. Day trip to Rio Madrigal for kids age 6 and older and adults who prefer shorter walks

This hike starts in the morning at the La Leona Ranger Station, and takes hikers 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) to Rio Madrigal. Along the trail, look for scarlet macaws, monkeys, morpho butterflies, mushrooms, and other flora and fauna.

While this hike can be made without a guide, guides are recommended as they can spot, share and explain the natural ecosystem and animals to the entire family. Bring a picnic lunch and your swimwear for a refreshing river swim and then hike back out to the La Leona Ranger Station in the afternoon.

2. Multi-day adventure (3 or 4 days) to Sirena Biological Station for kids ~12 years old and up and adults who enjoy serious hiking

This multi-day hike also starts in the early morning at the La Leona Ranger Station and takes hikers 17 kilometers (10 miles) from La Leona to Sirena Biological Station. Along the trail your guide will point out a wide range of flora and fauna from the forest floor all the way up into the rainforest canopy. This hike should not be made without a family friendly guide, as there are several river crossings and beach outcrops to navigate in collaboration with the tides.

Day one is spent hiking to Sirena Biological Station, the middle day(s) are spent exploring the network of trails around Sirena, and can include river swimming, waterfalls, and nature walks, and the final day is spent hiking out to La Leona Ranger Station.

3. Charter a plane into Sirena Biological Station

A third option for families not able to hike into Sirena Biological Station is to charter a plane from Puerto Jimenez (seats 6) to fly in / and or / out of the park. This option skips the day long hike, and offers amazing aerial views of the Osa Peninsula. The landing on the grass airstrip in the middle of the jungle is another experience you’ll not soon forget. 

Hikes along the La Leona Trail meander from beach to forest, so be sure to bring plenty of water (3 liters per person is recommended), a hat and good sunscreen for this expedition. 

Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica
Corcovado National Park

Tips before the hike

  • Get your kids outdoors often to look around for the small stuff – insects, fungus, birds.
  • Let kids participate in practicing their hiking skills before the big trip. 
  • Share maps, pictures of animals, insects and plants found in the tropical rainforest.
  • Express and share your own sense of excitement with your kids.

Tips during the hike

  • Bring plenty of snacks to eat and water to drink.
  • Give kids their own daypack or camelpack filled with water, emergency whistle, flashlight and snacks.
  • Emphasize fun: spotting exotic wildlife, funny plants, or river swimming is always fun.
  • Embrace the pace set by the kids, stop often to let kids rest, watch, and fuel up.
  • Take lots of pictures to remember the fun.
  • Let kids be kids and be prepared to change the plan if it’s not working.

What to bring on the hike

  • Plenty of water
  • Snacks for hike in / out
  • Hat & swimsuit
  • Comfortable lightweight clothing
  • Sunscreen & sunglasses
  • Closed toe, ankle high footwear
  • Insect repellent
  • Camera / binoculars
  • Sheets / tent for Sirena
  • Flashlight / other essentials

Related Read: Must Have Hiking and Camping Gear

More Tips for hiking safely in Corcovado National Park Costa Rica

Drinking water

The water at the ranger station is potable, but if you are concerned, bring some type of water purifier. The park recommends you carry 1.5 liters of water for the La Leona and Los Patos hike, but I’ve seen my guests drink this within the first 2 hours. Know your self and your water needs, dehydration and heat-exhaustion are common illnesses in the park.

Sunscreen

It’s recommended to use sunscreen, a hat, and long sleeved shirt on the hike from Sirena to La Leona. While much of the hike is through the jungle, there are long stretches along the beach that benefit from sun protection.

Insect Repellent

Recent outbreaks of Dengue Fever in Costa Rica are a concern. Currently there is no Malaria to be worried about. Also, bug spray helps with the sand flies and no-see-ums…

Solo Hiking? No

It’s best to hike with a guide or a hiking buddy. There are several tricky river crossings and tricky rocky ocean/beach crossings that need to be navigated at low tide…

Don’t hike off-trail

Each year people try to bushwack their way to discovered areas of Corcovado, and each year the local community has to preform rescue missions to find them when they go missing. For your safety and the safety of others, it’s best to stick to the marked trails.

No Swimming

Crocodiles and Bullsharks rule the ocean here and love to swim at the mouth of rivers. In addition, the currents and tides are quite powerful.

River Crossings

Cross carefully and quickly, and never risk crossing the rivers at high tide or during heavy rain.

Snakes

Watch where you step and touch. There are Fer de Lance and other poisonous snakes in the region. Be especially careful around rivers and streams where they come to eat frogs, especially at night.

Ants

Seemingly harmless, their bites sting for up to one hour…

Peccaries/Wild Pigs

There are two different species of peccaries in Corcovado, the Collared and the White-lipped Peccary. They run in packs and can be very aggressive. If threatened by a group of peccaries, climb a tree until you are six feet or higher off the ground.

Is the Corcovado National Park hike worth it?

While it’s really a hike vs a stroll through the park, Costa Rica’s Corcovado National Park hike is an experience of a lifetime. Corcovado is home to 5% of the world’s biodiversity and has been described by National Geographic as the most “biologically intense” place on earth.

A trip into Corcovado will be a trip your family will never forget.


Hacienda Guachipelin Adventure Tours in the Rincon de La Vieja National Park, Costa Rica

While visiting Costa Rica, we decided to go for a “canopy tour“, or zip-lining as we refer to it at home.

It was recommended that we go on the Hacienda Guachipelin Adventure Tours in Rincon de La Vieja National Park rather than going on one of the tour packages offered at our resort.

It’s a full day adventure tour that includes a canopy tour, rock climbing, tubbing, horse back riding, hot spring and mud bath.

We’re going to share our full experience of this day of adventure in Hacienda Guachipelin – it was well worth it!

Book the tour here.

Rincon de La Vieja National Park in Costa Rica
Rincon de La Vieja National Park in Costa Rica

Getting to Hacienda Guachipelin Adventure Tours

As we’d rented a car with another couple from our resort for a couple of days, we got GPS directions for the National Park and set out on our own. If you’re going to drive to Hacienda Guachipelin Adventure Tours, make sure you have a 4×4 vehicle.

Once you get off of the Pan American Highway (Hwy 1) you’re on a very long unpaved road (in fact that’s all our GPS called it, ‘unpaved road’), full of potholes, hills, and the occasional cow wandering down the road.

Insider travel tip: When you arrive at the entrance to Rincon de La Vieja National Park, you come to a gate where they ask you to pay a toll to enter the park. Tell them you’re heading to Adventure Tours and you don’t need to pay!

The tour includes lunch at the Hacienda Guachipelín Hotel. I had a local drink to begin with, followed by Mahi Mahi on a bed of rice with some vegetables, and rice pudding for dessert. I enjoyed the meal, probably more than the food at our resort!

If you book this tour online, it includes a hotel pick-up so you don’t have to worry about getting to the park on your own.

Canopy Tour

After lunch, we headed out to the canopy. The first thing they do is to get all your equipment fitted. This includes your harness, helmet and gloves. My wife and I were both quite impressed with the harnesses they provide. Having done a fair amount of work in the entertainment industry where harnesses are a job requirement, we felt they paid very good attention to the safety of their guests.

Next up was a brief introduction to zip-lining. While still on the ground they showed you how to position your body while on the line, how to keep your balance, slow yourself down, what to do if you stopped in the middle of the line, etc.

After the briefing, it’s time to go flying through Rincon de La Vieja. We started off with a fairly long line for our first run, which just went through the forest. A good introductory run.  The second run, probably the longest of them all, goes over a canyon, with an incredible view if you were looking down as you flew overhead!

Next, you arrive at the rappelling line. Here your harness is attached to a rope and you’re lowered, head first, straight down along a waterfall.  You then swing across the water to another platform, and climb up at 40m ladder to the next platform. This part of the canopy tour is optional, as it requires a bit more physical strength than the rest. If you choose to rappel down, there is no way out other than the ladder climb back up. Only one of our party of 4 partook in this activity.

After another two zip lines, you arrive at the most challenging part of the tour, rock climbing. You have to climb across one rock wall and then down to another platform, with the river running underneath you. You then do a “tarzan swing’” to a platform on the other side of the canyon.

Finally, you have to climb another rock wall straight up to the next zip-line platform. After another short rock climb, there’s a small walk to the final zip-line location.  The staff are very good at guiding you through this section of the tour.  Although I must admit I was a little unsure about my ability to complete it, it felt like a great accomplishment to reach the end!

After all of that, there’s one final zip-line to the end, which you have the option of doing upside down! We took group photos on the last platform, and then had a short walk back to the Adventure Tours offices where we took off our equipment.

One of the joys of being there at the end of September is that is was pouring rain during many portions of the canopy tour. In some ways, this added to the experience. It felt like a bigger accomplishment doing the ziplines and rock climbing in that weather.

Hacienda Guachipelin Adventure Tours, Costa Rica
Hacienda Guachipelin Adventure Tours canopy tour

Hot Springs

The next part of the day would normally include horseback riding, but given that it was getting a later in the day (we didn’t arrive until almost 1pm) and that it was pouring rain outside, we skipped this and went straight to the hot springs.

The hot springs are located about another 10-15 minute drive up the road from the main Hacienda Guachipelin Adventure Tours office. They’re not marked very well – but there is a sign about 100m before you get to them. The entrance is located right at the bottom of a steep hill on the road. There’s a bridge over the water here, you can park your car on either side of it.

There are change facilities located a short walk into the forest towards the hot springs.  A staff member from Adventure Tours was at the change facilities keeping an eye on everyone’s belongings.  The pools are located just past the change facilities.  There are 3 pools: one hot, one medium, and one cool.  If I had to guess that their temperatures, I would say they were about 107F, 103F and maybe 90F.  The hot pools are fed with water from a nearby volcano. You can see where the hot water is feeding into the pool.

There’s a bridge over the water leading to another cooler pool, but this one was closed on the day we visited because the water levels were too high.

The pools were very relaxing, and felt great on the “new muscles” that we discovered while zip-lining!  The pools were very quite, with only a few other guests showing up while we were there.

Hacienda Guachipelin Adventure Tours, Costa Rica
Hacienda Guachipelin Adventure Tours hot springs.

Driving Back

It was still light out when we started driving back, although it quickly got dark. As we’d discovered on the rest of our trip, the roads in Costa Rica (even the highways and more urban areas) have very poor street lighting, and no shoulders. You have to be very attentive to the pedestrians and cyclists in the dark.

Our return trip was also slowed down because we were stuck behind a line of school buses, with no room to pass. It appears students in Costa Rica go to school for a few hours in the morning, and then again later in the afternoon, with a break in the middle when the heat is at its worst.

Hacienda Guachipelin Adventure Tours: 5/5 

Would recommend this tour to anyone who wants an exciting, adrenaline pumped way to explore the Costa Rican landscape!

Exploring more of Costa Rica? Here’s a few tips:


The Fantastic Treefrog in the Udzungwa Mountains National Park

Udzungwa Forest Tented Camp lies on the border of the Udzungwa Mountains National Park, Southern Tanzania.

These forested mountains form part of the Eastern Arc Mountain Range which are known as the ‘Galapagos of Africa‘ owing to their high degree of endemism – they cover less than 2% of the land area but include more then 50% of the country’s plant and animal species. Over 300 endemic animals and over 800 endemic plants have been found in the Eastern Arc.

The Udzungwas form one one of Africa’s most remarkable biodiversity hotspots and walking them is a memorable experience. The habitats contained within the national park include tropical rainforest, mountain forest, miombo woodland, grassland and steppe.

Udzungwa Mountains National Park in Tanzania
Udzungwa Mountains National Park

Animals found in the Udzungwa Mountains National Park

The Udzungwa Mountains are a primate hotspot with five Tanzanian endemics to be found;

  • the newly discovered Highland Mangeby (found in Ndundulu Forest),
  • the Sanje Crested Mangeby,
  • the Iringa Red Colobus,
  • the Matundu Dwarf Galago and
  • the Mountain Dwarf Galago.

Other primates include the Vervet Monkey, Sykes Monkey, Black and White Colobus, Yellow Baboon, Grant’s Galago, Small-eared Galago, and greater Galago.

Other mammal species are headed by the recently rediscovered Lowe’s Servaline Genet, which was photographed for the first time in the Udzungwa Mountains National Park. It was previously seen some 70 years ago and evidence was limited to a single skin.

Other mammal species to be found in the Udzungwa Mountains include: Elephant, Buffalo, Lion, Leopard, Bushbuck, Sable, Greater Kudu, Harvey’s Red Duiker, Bush Duiker, Palm Civets, Miombo Genets, Hyena, Sun Squirrels, Climbing Mice, Spiny Mice, Pouched Rats, Elephants Shrews, Shrews and Hippo.

The Udzungwa Mountains National Park is among the top ten areas for bird conservation in Africa (IBA) with over 250 bird species. The Udzungwa Mountains are also home to several Tanzanian endemic birds including Rufous Winged Sunbird and the Udzungwa Partridge.

Within the Udzungwa Mountains National Park there is also a huge and diverse range of endemic butterflies, amphibians and reptiles including the Pygmy Bearded Chameleon. 

And, of course, the fantastic tree frog! 🙂

Book to stay at Udzungwa Forest Tented Camp

Udzungwa Forest Tented Camp provides accommodation with a restaurant, a bar, a garden, and barbecue facilities.

Book your stay here.


2 Days in Yellowstone National Park

The main sights of America’s first national park, are best visited by car and can be easily explored in two days by following a rough figure of eight pattern, when approached from the northern tip of the park, heading in from Montana.

I stayed overnight in Livingstone and drove the 50 miles south to the North Entrance of the park early the first morning to start my 2 days in Yellowstone National Park.

Safari in Yellowstone National Park, USA
Safari in Yellowstone National Park, USA

2 Days in Yellowstone National Park: Day 1

The first day of my Yellowstone itinerary includes checking out some of the sights along the northern tip of the national park.

Mammoth Hot Springs

A short 5 mile drive from the entrance and you arrive at the surreal Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces. Heat, Water, Limestone and Rock combine to create the most amazing landscape of off-white glistening terraces, bubbling water and steam rising to the surface. It is hard to describe just how spectacular the area is, but the descriptions of some of the Hot Springs may give you some idea – Opal Terrace, Jupiter Terrace and White Elephant Back Terrace are just a few of the areas open to discovery. 

Tower Junction

Next head back on the road and journey 18 miles East to Tower Junction. A great spot to admire vast views of the park and definitely spot some wildlife, maybe some Elk or Bison. The main attraction here is Tower Waterfall, a 132 foot waterfall, but also visit Roosevelt Lodge, named because President Roosevelt used to love visiting the area and often went hunting here. More hot springs are located around Calsite Springs, and definitely don’t miss the surreal Petrified Trees of the Fossil Forrest. 

Canyon 

Continue on the road south about 19 miles to the Canyon Area. Its no surprise that this is where the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is located, stretching some 20 miles long. There is also a great visitors centre here, where transient exhibitions can be found. There are places to rest and eat too and all manner of hiking trails start here, from a quick 20 minute walk to much more strenuous hikes. 

2 days in Yellowstone National Park
Grand Canyon of Yellowstone National Park

Norris 

Loop West on the road about 12 miles, till you arrive at the Norris Geyser Basin. It is the hottest and most changeable area in the whole of the Yellowstone National Park and most cannot be missed. There is a 3.6 km trail, but you can walk a shortened route too, as you pass through pungent smells, hot steam and strange, almost magical colours. Highlights include Whales Mouth, Crackling Lake, Emerald Spring and the Porcelain Terrace Overlook. 

Madison 

Depending on time, you can always stop off here for some more hiking trails and stay overnight in one of the campgrounds, but I drove west out of the park, and straight into West Yellowstone town. There are plenty of cheap motels, shops, and restaurants here and it is a great place to rest overnight.

2 Days in Yellowstone National Park: Day 2

Two days in Yellowstone National Park won’t be complete without visiting Old Faithful, which is what we got up to on day two.

Head back into Yellowstone from the West Yellowstone entrance, but this time head South when you arrive back at Madison. 

Old Faithful 

You may of heard of this place? Located in the Upper Geyser Basin, it is the largest concentration of Geysers in the world. The main attraction here is of course the famous cone geyser Old Faithful, so named, not because it is the most spectacular or largest geyser in the park, but the most reliable. With plenty of places to sit, wait and watch, check the clock for estimated eruption times, and have your camera ready! 

Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park
Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park

West Thumb 

Continue heading South on the main road about 16 miles to one of the smallest concentrations of geysers in the park, but by no means less spectacular. Also located here are mud pools, fumaroles and hot springs. There is also the amazing Abyss Pool, the deepest pool in the whole park. 

Yellowstone Lake 

Now start to head East again, and follow the edge of the Yellowstone Lake. You can stop off along the way to enjoy the scenary or take a rest and gets something to eat at the Bay Bridge Campground. There is a marina here, and places to fish, boat and raft, if you plan to stay longer than 2 days of course. 

Fishing Bridge 

When you reach the top end of the Lake, take a quick detour to the Fishing Bridge Museum. As well as being a popular place for visitors to fish, there is a landmark museum here made of rock and stone which reflects the beauty of the surrounding area and provides more information about the park. With all the main sights done, its a picturesque 37 mile drive back up the West side of the park up to the North Entrance.

Again, with plenty of stop-off points to admire and soak up the remaining scenery. You will no doubt have to stop at least once to let bison pass you by, and that alone is worth making the trip for.

I have travelled extensively in the USA, but Yellowstone National Park, is by far one of the highlights and should be on everyone’s list to go experience for themselves.

Looking for more tips on exploring Yellowstone National Park? Check out these posts:


Tsitsikamma National Park Hiking Trails

The Tsitsikamma National Park is situated in the heart of the famous Garden Route in South Africa. The park offers some fine coastal scenery and sometimes the option of whale-watching.

There are some pretty amazing Tsitsikamma hikes that allow you to explore this beautiful national park on foot.

Tsitsikamma is a Khoisan (early inhabitants of the area) word meaning, “place of much water.” They probably referred to the average annual rainfall of 1200mm.

Check out our gear guide to hiking.

Tsitsikamma hikes, South Africa
Tsitsikamma National Park hikes

Tsitsikamma hikes: The most popular hiking trails

Nature – Storms River suspension bridge

The forest walkway to the bridge has recently been upgraded and the development of a circular route with some more suspension bridges is underway.

Short Tsitsikamma hikes

Here’s two short trails (no fees or permits needed):

  • Mouth Trail. 1km, a linear route. Walk from the Park’s Restaurant to the Suspension Bridge, the key feature of the Tsitsikamma National Park, a long free-hanging bridge. It can often be seen on photographs, advertising the Tsitsikamma.
  • Viewpoint Trail. Walk past the Suspension Bridge, 2km, linear route. The first part is a pretty steep climb, towards the viewpoint it becomes a more gentle slope. You get a nice view of the Indian Ocean, the mouth, the bridge and the restcamp.
  • Waterfall Trail. First half day hike of the famous Otter trail, starting at the Oceannettes on the eastern side of the restcamp. 6,4km to the waterfall and back, just over 3 hours (a linear route). The latest starting time in summer 2:30PM and in winter 1:30PM. The hike is marked as difficult, due to uneven and slippery terrain. Take along your swimming gear for a refreshing dive under the waterfall, which marks the half way point. 
  • Loerie Trail. Starts a little bit east of the restaurant, a small walk past a viewpoint, offering only ocean views. 1,5km and circular. 
  • Blue Duiker Trail. 5,5km and circular. It starts along the Loerie Trail, later turns towards the coastline, following the Waterfall Trail back to the Oceannettes.

Multi day Tsitsikamma hikes

  • Otter Trail. 42km, 5 days and 4 nights with good overnight huts. You have to book ahead. Bookings can be taken a year in advance, which means that there are often last minute cancellations, so it’s always worth seeing if you can get in at the last minute. Bring your own food and sleeping bags. You do not need tents. You need to be fairly fit as the trail follows the cliffs and hills along the coastline, dipping down to the rivers. What goes down must come up… It’s beautiful and only 12 people are allowed on any one part of the hike, so it really is unspoilt and worth doing. Be prepared for a difficult river crossing on day three. Please check with the parks officials when low tide is and ask for advice on getting over the river.
  • Tsitsikamma Trail. Hike from Nature’s Valley through the Tsitsikamma Mountains to Storms River. You can choose to walk 2 to 6 days, with or without porterage. If you want to walk just a section, just a day it appears to be possible as well. Visit their website.

Visiting The Garden Route? Check out these posts:


Reasons to Visit Yellowstone National Park in Winter

Home to a great collection of geothermal features, an abundance of wildlife, the most spectacular views and a thick blanket of snow – Yellowstone National Park in winter is an adventurer’s dream.

Plus, there’s less visitors – so you get to experience the true beauty of the park without the crowds!

So, if you’re brave enough to face the cold, windy and snowy days during the months of November through to April, you’re in a for a treat.

If you’re not quite convinced on experiencing a Yellowstone National Park winter, national park located in the western United States, here’s a few reasons why you should.

10 reasons to visit Yellowstone National Park in winter

Yellowstone in winter is a true wonderland.

Here’s why:

1.      The snowy landscapes and geysers

The wintery landscapes in Yellowstone National Park are absolutely breathtaking! From the steam rising up from the geysers and hot springs to the bison trekking through the snow and the frozen streams.

Old Faithful, the nearly 500-year-old geyser in the park, continues to erupt. In winter, the near-boiling water hits the chilly air and falls down in tiny icy crystals and flakes. Watching the geysers erupt against the backdrop of the snow and stunningly blue skies is a sight to behold.

Yellowstone in winter - the geysers
Witness the Yellowstone geysers in winter.

2.      The winter activities

According to the locals, the best way to experience Yellowstone in winter is on a pair of cross-country skis! From cross-country skiing to snowshoeing – there’s plenty of adrenaline pumping winter-based activities to explore in the area.

You’ll find several places nearby who rent gear and several companies specialising in guided trips if you’d rather not go out alone (this is recommend unless you’re extremely experienced in navigating the snowy hills).

3.      Snowmobiling

In mid-December, many of the roads in the park are only open to oversnow travel, meaning that visitors may only enter the park via snowmobile, snowcoach, snowshoe and cross-country ski.

West Yellowstone offers 400 miles of snowmobiling terrain outside Yellowstone National Park on national forest service land. It’s a snowmobilers paradise, with loads of tour companies taking you into the park on the snowmobiles. The terrain caters to all levels, from beginners to experts.

4.      The wildlife

The Yellowstone National Park in winter is still home to a variety of wildlife. The less-crowded park means that you’ll get to observe the wildlife facing the elements of winter without hoards of other tourists surrounding you.

Against the snowy background, the animals are also much easier to spot and you can easily track them in the snow. Expect to see bison, elk, river otters, wolves and other Yellowstone National Park animals.

Plus, you’ll get to see the bison in their winter coats! Huge balls of snow dangle on their beards, making them look even more impressive.

5.      The cozy lodges in Yellowstone National Park

There’s nothing better than curling up on a sofa with a hot drink (or whiskey), a good book, a crackling fireplace nearby and view of a snowy landscape outside. That’s ultimate relaxation, right?

This is exactly what you’ll get when you visit Yellowstone in winter. Note that not all lodges stay open during the winter months (and due to COVID restrictions, a few more might be closed this year). Best is to check out the full list of Yellowstone accommodation to see what is available.

6.      The quiet, peaceful solitude

Not many people visit Yellowstone in winter, which means that you get to truly experience the natural beauty completely on your own. In the winter, the park is nothing but miles of peaceful solitude in the wilderness.

It’s the perfect winter escape if you want to disconnect from humans, unplug your laptop and switch off your phone.

And since the park is primarily accessed via guided oversnow transport, you get experience Yellowstone’s canyons, woods, wildlife and hydrothermal forces in a much more intimate way.

7.      The Yellowstone holiday traditions

If you love the traditions that come with the holidays, then you’ll still get to experience the magic of the season in Yellowstone. Some of the popular traditions include candlelight Christmas Eve services in the Mammoth Chapel, tree lighting on Officer’s Row and festive Christmas dinners held at the local lodges.

If you’re in the area for New Years, then you’ll get to ring in the new year at Old Faithful, where everyone heads out to the geyser viewing area shortly after midnight to watch the first eruption of the year.

8.      Practice your snow photography

With so much natural scenery around you, Yellowstone in winter is an ideal spot to practice your snow photography skills.

The landscapes are filled with contrasts – from clear blue skies to snowy fields, steamy geysers and woolly animals. You can shoot these images on your own or join one of the guide-led photo safaris on offer.

9.      Witness the star-filled night sky

Yellowstone comes alive at night – from the parks most well-known creatures coming out to play to the star-filled sky lighting up the land.

To witness this spectacular scene, you need to join one of the nighttime snowcoach tours. The tours take you past the hissing geysers and passing wildlife and eventually stops for you to get out and witness the beauty above you. The countless stars on display will leave you in awe.

10.  Take a dip in a hot spring

This one is for the true adrenaline junkies, or the people who just want to say ‘I took in a dip in a hot spring in below zero degrees’.

The naturally heated waters of the hot springs won’t freeze, even during the coldest of winters. Which leaves for a fun opportunity to take a dip any time of year! The water is so warm, that no matter how cold it is outside, you’ll be so comfortable that you won’t want to get out.

Look out for the spot where the Boiling River meets the Gardner River, about two miles north of Mammoth. This is a popular swimming spot during the summer months but is sparsely visited in the winter months – making it one of the more unique experiences of a Yellowstone National Park winter.

Ready to start planning your adventure in Yellowstone National Park in winter?


Karijini National Park cage enter

Insider travel tip Karijini National Park, Australia

 

The Karijini National Park is my favorite insider travel tip for Australia!

You’ll find it in Western Australia and around 300 km south of Port Hedland and east of the city Tom Price. The highways between Port Hedland and Tom Price are tarved, but the street (Banjima Drive) to the Park itself is a dirt road.

The gorges are very typical and famous for the Karijini Park and with it, the highlights. At the eastern end of the Banjima Drive you’ll find the Dales Gorge with it’s Fortescue Falls and the Circular Pool. Here you’ll find water all year round. Here you’ll also find the Fern Pool, a very spirituel place for the Aborigines. You can have a quiet swim here, but please respect this spirituel place and don’t jump from the rocks.

Close by is also a really beautiful lookout… the Oxer Lookout. Here you’ll see 4 gorges meeting each other at one point. That spot es especially nice at sundawn. The gorges are called Hancock Gorge, Joffre Gorge, Red Gorge and Weano Gorge and they will offer you some great experience and adventure!

The Joffre Gorge and the Hancock Gorge have the famous Miracle Mile. You should just do this walk if you are really fit and if you are not afraid of heights etc. Here you have to pass 20 meter high walls with just a bit of space to put your feet on and you have to jump into a pool which is about 10 below you. Very important: if you want to do this walk, you have to get informations from the rangers!

The Weano Gorge is also a great experience, but a bit easier and you don’t need any further informations. Walk into the gorge and keep right then to enter the part to the Handrail Pool. You might have to walk through knee deep water (or higher) and it will also get smaller. Later there will be just a meter to walk through. Then you’ll get to a big natural pool with high walls around it.

There are just two chances to keep on going. First is to jump into the water, but I would suggest to use the metal handrail, as you don’t know how the deep water is and I’m sure you don’t want to break you legs at this part of the world. 🙂 When you are in the water there is only one way to keep on going… to swim through the pool to the other end.

There you can keep on for another… I would say 100 – 200 adventourus meters! Definitely worth it!

Another great adventures track through a gorge takes you to the Kermit Pool. But before you have to pass the Spider Walk!

Guess why it’s called like that? No, wrong. Ok, you’ll find many spiders, but that’s not why it’s called like it.

At some points, the walls get so close, that you can only pass it like a spider, with your legs and hands left and right and the water beneath you.

Really great!

To start the spider walk you have to climb into the Hancock Gorge, then follow the stream to the left. You’ll might even to swim at a few passages, so beware to take some water proof bags with you for your cameras. Then you’ll find the Amphitheatre, where you can rest a bit, but please, don’t forget to take your rubbish with you again. If you now keep on walking, and you should, the spider passage will have to be managed. It’s easier then it sounds. Right afterwards, surrounded by 20 meter high walls, you’ll reach the Kermit Pool.

Take a nice bath, but check the water pegel and rocks beneath the water, before you might jump into it.