Day 1: A Journey to Corcovado
Since my first attempt to arrive in Corcovado via air last week was unsuccessful (it was canceled due to heavy rains), I was very excited when I arrived at Costa Rica's Pavas (Tobias Bolanos) airport, again, for an 8:30 am departure aboard Aerobell. We were departing directly to Carate, a small town slightly south of Costa Rica Expedition's Corcovado Lodge Tent Camp.
I have to admit I was a little nervous about flying in an "avionetta" or little airplane, more because I was worried about motion sickness than crashing. I am happy to report that this morning's flight was delightful. Not only did we have blue skies and stupendous weather for flying, but the voyage over rugged terrain and turquoise ocean waters was breathtaking. These little planes have normal glass windows, making it much easier to look out the window (rather than on the big planes where everything seems distorted and dizzying through the windows).
The patchwork of greenery below us seemed to float gently by as we puttered over it at about 7000 feet. I was sitting diagonally behind the pilot and could see all his gadgets -- fascinating. The flight was less than an hour and, quickly, we were upon the dirt landing strip that parallels the beach.
All of our luggage was carried from the airplane to the lodge via ox cart and we began a short walk up the beach to the Corcovado Lodge Tent Camp. Owned by Costa Rica Expeditions, this rustic lodge is snuggled between the south pacific coast of Costa Rica and the tropical humid forest that makes up the Osa Peninsula. The Corcovado National Park protects a large portion of the Osa Peninsula.
The Carate River empties into the ocean just north of the landing strip and we traverse it as we walk towards the lodge. The combination of wet feet, sand inside your sandals and blistered toes (from a previous hike) make for an uncomfortable walk, so I slip off my shoes. The dark, dry sand is scorching hot -- too hot to walk without shoes, so I walk at the waters edge. It is slow going as the sand is soft, but it feels so good to have my feet in the water and to be at the beach again.
Upon arrival at the lodge, the friendly staff greets us and serves us an icy cold papaya fruit drink, which tasted really good after the hot walk on the beach, and it was hot.
I had hardly mentioned the minor ailment with my feet, but before I knew it, one of the guides was there to bandage up my little blistered toes in anticipation for the afternoon walk.
After a brief orientation of all the basics, I went to my room and was happy to see that my bags had been delivered to my doorstep.
I had a little free time before lunch to explore. I walked the grounds and found the basics -- the bar, the bathrooms, the restaurant and the beach. The beach was the most difficult to find as it is located about 100' from my doorstep with only a grassy knoll and few palm trees in-between. Nice!
A refreshing, light lunch was served including a fresh veggie salad and grilled fish, all bathed in lots of garlic so that no mosquito in sight would want to bite my garlic drenched pores.
For the afternoon, I scheduled a hike with one of the lodge's guides, Pablo. We departed from the restaurant to explore the trails on the property, which butts up to the National Park. There is a lookout deck on the property that is awesome for whale watching and summer sunsets (Costa Rica's summer is December-April) and there is an observation platform further up the trail.
All in all, our leisurely paced hike took a little more than 2 hours as we discussed Corcovado's ecology and watched a large group of chestnut mandibled toucans hop from tree to tree. I spotted a brown vine snake climbing a bush just to my right (I only noticed it because it was moving) and we saw a few poison dart frogs (the green and black ones). The howler monkeys kept us company by howling in the distance and, of course, we kept an eye out for pumas. They spotted one just yesterday on a hike not far from here, so naturally I was hopeful.
The afternoon passed delightfully as Pablo and I walked the trails. By the time we returned, I was soaked with sweat, so I took a cool, refreshing shower.
The bar at Corcovado Lodge Tent Camp has a cozy loft with hammocks, perfect for viewing the sunset. Although the sun sets north of here and not directly over the ocean this time of year, the colors were spectacular to watch with a cold beer in my hand and mellow bar music playing in the background.
Dinner was good too; Yummy cream of asparagus soup, steamed broccoli and tuna kabobs.
Electricity here runs on generators and is only available for the kitchen and bar areas only during the morning and evening. After 9pm, the camp is totally dark. Each tent cabin is equipped with a candle and comfy beds and have all been recently re-constructed with new wooden floors, new beds and furniture. As I sit here this evening typing, the ocean resonates in the foreground, offering only a slight nighttime breeze. The light of my single candle and the crashing of the waves lull me quickly to sleep.