Corcovado: the tough way!

I’m the kind of nerd that keeps lists of places I want to visit. When I read something in a magazine, blog or on Instagram, I write it down in one of my (many!) notebooks. National Park Corcovado has been in it for years. And this year I visited Corcovado…twice! Once the tough way but the second time was much easier. I will tell you about my first trip to Corcovado in this post.

From Puerto Jimenez to Corcovado

I entered Costa Rica from Panama and I first stayed in a town called Puerto Jimenez. From there I wanted to enter Corcovado National Park. Another option would have been to enter from Drake Bay, which I did a couple of months later (see my article: Corcovado: the easier way).

Before I arrived Costa Rica I already booked my trip to Corcovado, because I wanted to make sure I could spend two nights at La Sirena Ranger Station. Since I didn’t want to pay for a private guide, I emailed a lot of companies and guides that I found on TripAdvisor. Kathya from Surcos Tours told me she would try to find some others for me to do the tour with. And she did! I was able to join Adam and Maya (from Israel) and Ted (from the USA).

We started our tour very early with some fresh bread from the bakery. We drove to Carate and we already saw some tropical screech owls, blue butterflies and raccoons on the way. Very promising!

Walking to La Sirena Ranger Station: hot, hot, hot

Around 9 am we started walking and after an hour we arrived at La Leona Ranger Station, where the national park begins. From there we had to walk to La Sirena Ranger Station, where we were going to spend the next two nights. And getting there was the tough part. According to our Guide, Oscar, the humidity that day was around 100%. No wonder my sunscreen just wouldn’t stick on and I ran out of my 3 liters (!) of water already halfway the walk. Fortunately, I could refill my bottles in a river, because Oscar brought something to filter water.

According to the map it was a 5 hour walk to the ranger station, but it took us way longer. Maybe twice the time.

We walked big parts on the beach but also through the lush green. We spotted an insane number of animals, among others howler-, squirrel-, and spider monkeys, macaws, trogons, a small snake and even an anteater. But unfortunately no puma, even though that would have been possible on this trail. We did see some puma tracks though.

After hours, we arrived at a river we had to cross. When I was preparing my trip, I read a blog about a group that crossed this river while it was high tide. On the pictures, you could see how they were trying to keep their heads above the water. Very risky because there are tons of crocodiles and bull sharks (during high tide) in this river. But fortunately, it was low tide and we could simply cross the river. After crossing the river, it was about another hour to La Sirena Ranger Station. I more or less zombied this last hour to the ranger station.


La Sirena Ranger Station

It was afternoon when we arrived La Sirena Ranger Station. We all felt more dead than alive but we were immediately awarded with a tapir grazing next to the ranger station! Unfortunately, I counted 5 blisters. A little bit of history repeating… (see Bruised and battered in Columbia).

We had dinner (which was better than I expected after reading some negative reviews) and went to bed at 19:30. We slept at an open dorm (no walls!), with very clean sheets and the other facilities were spotless too; I even saw how they cleaned the taps with a tooth brush! The lights of the ranger station went out at 20 pm and at that point I was already deep asleep.

The next day we started walking at 5 am and saw tapirs swimming, a crocodile, a sloth with a baby, beautiful birds, monkeys and so on. Even a group of (potentially aggressive) peccaries. After a lunch and siesta, it rained cats and dogs, but even from the ranger station we spotted a lot of animals. And through the telescope of our guide we could see everything in full detail.

The walk back to Carate

On day three we had to walk back to Carate. I was a bit worried because of my blisters and the thought of the unbearable hot first day, but it was clouded, which made life easier!

Just when we left, a tapir crossed our path. Unreal, I had to pinch myself! The river was a bit higher but still doable (our guide knew exactly when it was high tide, that’s why he told us to leave early). And before we crossed we saw two tapirs (one baby!) crossing the same river. Just insane!

We even did a good deed: we planted coconuts where a land slide took many trees away.

Back in Carate, the car was waiting for us and took us back to Puerto Jimenez. But not before we took some pictures of macaws.

At my accommodation, I went through my pictures and realised how many amazing things I’ve seen. Yes, the conditions were tough, sometimes almost unbearable, but so worth it! The diversity of wildlife in this park is so unbelievable that I can highly recommend it. If you are a wildlife lover this is simply the place to be! Still very pristine but with a very comfortable ranger station. I wouldn’t have missed visiting Corcovado this way, but the good news is that there are easier ways to visit the park as well. See my other blog: Corcovado: the easier way.