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heavenly beach hiking from sirena to la leona ranger station
 - Costa Rica

Corcovado National Park tour

Corcovado National Park tour — A sweaty, exhilarating, gorgeous trek through unfettered jungle

Destination: Carate, Golfo Dulce, Cabo Matapalo, Puerto Jimenez, Drake Bay, Sierpe

Highlights

  • Trek from Los Patos, to Sirena and then to La Leona Ranger Station
  • Interact with nature in a way you have never done it before
  • Swim in crystal clear rivers

Facts

  • Location : Corcovado National Park (Los Patos, Sirena and La Leona ranger station main trails)
  • Hours : 6 a.m. - reservation required
  • Time length : 3 to 4 days
  • Price : $545

You will feel anxious. Those butterflies in your gut? They’re not butterflies. They’re birds. Big birds. And they’ll wallop their wings feverishly as your driver pushes deeper into the jungle’s lungs.

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The hour-plus drive from Puerto Jimenez to the Los Patos trailhead will show you just how far from civilization you’re treading, particularly if you have to hop out of the vehicle to avoid succumbing to a mud pit. And then watch the vehicle almost tip over.

But you will feel exhilaration. As you forge closer, you’ll notice that everything around you is crawling with life. Wet, green life. The trees are panting — they create a mist from exhaling — and they breath into you a sense of wonder painted in vibrant strokes you can smell, taste and hear.

This is Corcovado National Park, where about 500 species of trees take root, roughly 700 species of animals and thousands of types of insects thrive. Where otherwise endangered spider monkeys know of no shortages or shrinking habitat. Where howler monkeys and macaws let loose an alarming cacophony of bellows and shrieks as your exercise sound track. Where everything is in motion, everything is growing and decaying and living and dying all at the same time.

Over the next few days, you will feel at peace. And then you will feel insane. You will feel love. You will feel hate. You will feel frustrated with your body and then at some point you’ll feel proud of your body.

Really, after doing about 30 miles in three days, you’ll feel like a superhero who just battled that nemesis that keeps you alive with fury and desire all at once.

But you can’t get there without help. Enter Mike Boston and Jorge Largaespada, a duo equipped with an internal compass, encyclopedic brains and remedies for exhaustion.

The pair will weave you through Costa Rica’s deepest jungle, break when you’re tired, push you when your feet and legs get stubborn, slice up stray coconuts when you’re hungry and tell you stories when you need a lift. Oh, and fill you up with electrolyte boosters when you’ve succumbed to the spins.

Boston runs tours following decades of working in biology and entomology in Europe. Born to Irish parents in Pakistan, Boston spent 14 years of his childhood in Trinidad and Tobago before moving to Ireland. He would later analyze water pollution for the Irish government, study insects and conserve bats at the Ulster Museum in Belfast.

But the tropics had always called. He returned in the 1990s to Costa Rica and launched Osa Adventura to give tourists a real taste of the rugged jungle.

Hikers will have much to learn from him, between his text-book knowledge of biology and ecosystems, and his devout enthusiasm for animals.

What’s that brown bird and why is it rolling around and hissing at us?

That’s the Killdeer, and she’s pretending to be injured to appear as easy prey to lure predators away from her nest. Once she leads her predator far enough away from her young, she’ll fly away.

Why do these tree trunks stand like massive book-ends? And their roots, they curl all over the place before finally pushing into the earth.

That’s because the soil in the rainforest is only nutritious at its top level, so the plants have shallow root systems. Tall trees form buttressed roots that stand high above the ground to provide support and increase the area from which the tree can absorb nutrients.

What’s that foot print?

A jaguar’s.

Fire away as many questions as you can think of, and you’ll get answers. Or, Boston will answer questions you’ve not thought to ask.

This is the kind of guy who once competed with his college buddy over who could get bit by the gnarliest snake — he holds no reservations. So if he sees one of his favorite creatures, of the harmless variety, of course, don’t be surprised if he grabs it and explains why the snake shines iridescent blue in the night while it’s writhing around in his hands and biting him.

Boston also regularly travels with Largaespada, who knows the forest intimately from his experience panning for gold in the peninsula.

Largaespada was a child when he first took to the forests to search for gold because there was no other way to make money. But the Costa Rican government eventually banned gold panning as it sought to protect Corcovado as a national park, so Largaespada went to work in construction until he met Boston.

Here, he says, he is at peace.

Largaespada knows every turn of the trails, every sound in the trees and can spot the wildlife that you’re hoping to catch on camera.

The Trails

Boston offers a range of ways to explore Corcovado. You can fly or boat to the Sirena Ranger Station and hike to Carate or fly or boat to the Sirena Ranger Station, hike during your stay and then fly or boat out.

Or you can hike from Carate to Sirena and back or hike from Los Patos to Carate. Hiking from Los Patos to the Sirena Ranger Station and then to Carate provides a differing terrain for each leg of the trip.

When hiking from Los Patos to Sirena Ranger Station, you’ll mostly be engulfed in dense, green forest, broken up by streams and divided by the varying rooms of the jungle. You will pass through some regions where banana trees create narrow, arched hallways and some other areas where kapok trees sprawl across the floor around you and open up toward the skies.

Mild inclines and declines break up long stretches of flat lands, but the real struggle of the hike is endurance. The trek adds up to be about 11 miles.

Once at the Sirena Ranger Station, Boston will set up your tents and make meals. Rest up: the next day he and Largaespada will take you on another trek around the station. You’ll likely spot spider, squirrel and howler monkeys and a variety of birds including great tinamous. You’ll see crocodiles sunning themselves in shallow waters, coaties digging up crabs and chomping them whole, you’ll see — and smell — peccaries foraging the jungle floor and even possibly a tapir lounging in a muddy pool.

That trip totals more than five miles.

The hike to Carate the next day is another 12, but it differs broadly from the first day’s hike. Boston and Largaespada will take you along the beach for most of this hike.

You will see rivers meet the ocean. Craggy rock formations that jut out of the shore line, slapped constantly by waves crashing into their sides. Cliffs that stand above the coast, fuzzy with ferns, palm trees, almond trees. Macaws flutter from their highest fronds, splashing brilliant reds into the clear blue sky.

Oh, and more spider monkeys! Thanks to the health of the forest, Corcovado is home to the densest spider monkey population in the world.

What you won’t see? More than about 10 other humans, if that.

If there was ever a point in your life when you wanted to imagine getting stranded on a tropical island, this is your time.

What to bring

  • Your lightest, most durable hiking / camping backpack filled with:
  • Plenty of socks. Nothing threatens to damage morale more than slogging through a trail in wet socks. Make sure you’ve got enough socks to switch out a few times a day.
  • A rainproof cover for your backpack. A rain jacket for yourself.
  • Protein bars and other snacks. Boston brings snacks, but make sure you’ve run to your local hiker-gear store before you leave home to stock up on your favorite meal-bars. You will be voraciously hungry the entire trip.
  • Sunscreen. Even if you hail from somewhere that gets a lot of sun — you’ll need to coat yourself in sunscreen for the beach portion of the hike.
  • Bug spray. You will get bitten. You will find weird, red splotches all over your legs. Spray your clothes against ticks or you’ll have to pluck them off of yourself every night too. The good news is, however, that mosquitos are not rampant in Corcovado and the ticks do not typically carry Lyme’s Disease.
  • A swim suit. There will be multiple opportunities to take a dip in freshwater and saltwater throughout the trip.
  • The bare minimum of clothing. Your backpack will be heavy, so be careful not to overpack in clothes. One outfit can last you two days, especially if you hang it up at night while you’re sleeping.
  • Water and water purification tablets. You might not realize yourself getting dehydrated because your surroundings are so humid. But make sure you start out the hike with at least a couple of liters of water for yourself. Fortunately, there are multiple streams, so you can fill up as you go. Just treat the water with purification tablets before consuming.
  • Flashlights. The ranger station shuts off the lights at 8 p.m.

Prices

Prices vary depending on the trip. We recommend you go with at least three people and do a three day trek from Los Patos, to Sirena Ranger Station and then to Carate. Here are some examples of pricing:

For a five-day, four-night trip from Los Patos to Carate or from Los Patos to San Pedrillo, it costs $816 for two to three people and $730 for four or more people. For four nights, it costs $657 for two to three people and $592 for four or more.

For a three-day, two night trip from Carate to Sirena and back, it costs $545 for two to three people and $490 for four or more.

Departure & Return

  • Departure point : Tour departs from all major hotels in Puerto Jimenez
  • Departure time : Hotel pickup is between 20 and 60 minutes before tour start time depending on hotel location.
  • Return details : Tour returns to original departure point between 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Corcovado National Park tour in Pictures

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