Where Do You Hike?
Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica has been called one of the most biologically intense places on the earth by National Geographic. It is located on the Osa Peninsula in southern Costa Rica not far from the border of Panama. Backpackers usually like to roll into a place and make arrangements on the fly. Due to permits and guides, it is recommended to plan this park a little more carefully in advance. Here are some tips in getting started.
1. Make your reservations in advance during the dry season
If you plan to come during the dry season between December and April it is best to make reservations in advance as the park is operating at maximum capacity. It would be a shame to travel all the way to the Osa Peninsula and not be able to make it into the park. You can make reservations with the park in advance, but it is necessary to pay via wire transfer, which can get expensive.
2. Hire a guide
Guides are expensive in Corcovado, but they are well worth it. They are attuned to the natural wonders in the jungle and will find wildlife that you would have walked past 100 times and not seen. They will hear a bird call and lead you to toucans and scarlet macaws and will find troops of monkeys playing in the tree tops you would have missed. Guides can also make the bureaucratic red tape of getting a reservation and permit much simpler.
3. Research a good guide
I stayed at Cabinas the Corner in Puerto Jimenez, and I made the mistake of listening to the concierge and followed her recommendation and used Felix Menocal. We agreed to $150.00 for two days guiding, but he abandoned me in the park after only one day and did not refund my money. Research online and through forums like Lonely Planet for good honest guides.
Another good idea if you have time, is to come down to Puerto Jimenez and talk to other locals around town for tips on good guides. It is a small town and everyone knows everyone. I found out about Felix’s sketchy reputation when I stayed the night in town after coming out of the park. A night drinking around town would have eliminated this mistake
4. Fly in and hike out
The main destination point inside the park is Sirena Ranger Station. This is the heart of the Corcovado wilderness. There are a variety of ways to enter the park and get here. You can hike in from La Leonia, San Pedrillo, or Los Patos. You can also take a boat from Drake Bay or plane for $50.00 one-way from Puerto Jimenez. I would recommend anteing up for a plane at least one of the ways and hiking in the other. The views of the extensive jungle from the plane ride are amazing.
5. Buy and bring your own food
The cost of food inside the park at Sirena is ridiculous. If you have a guide, they will most likely have access to a stove in Sirena. You can buy all your food for your time in Corcovado for the price of one meal in Sirena.
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He also has the credit for the photo.