Hiking Corcovado - Details on Launching Point and Guides
Replies: 5 - Last Post: Dec 2, 2012 5:49 AM Last Post By: jaguarman_corco...
Nov 24, 2012 11:44 AM
Hiking Corcovado - Details on Launching Point and GuidesHi,
My boyfriend and I are heading down to CR in January and debating making the trek down to the Osa peninsula and hiking the 3 day loop in Corcovado. I am having trouble getting clear details on how to plan this leg of our trip. We are planning this a bit last minute so are flexible still with our itinerary so long as we can pull it off. We get to CR on Dec 30 and have plans to go to Samara for 5 night and then nonbinding plans to be in La Fortuna for 3 nights after that (checking out on Jan 6th). We could then either drive to San Jose and fly to the peninsula or alternatively could drive all the way down to Osa (though it might be a bit of a trek). Our departure out of San Jose back home is on Jan 11th at 12:45PM. So, here are my questions:
1) is driving from La Fortuna to the peninsula feasible and how long would it take? Additionally, how about the drive back from the peninsula to San Jose?
2) would an early morning flight into San Jose from the peninsula on the day of our international departure home be reliable enough to depend upon (we depart from San Jose at 12:45pm)? or do we need to fly a day earlier (the 10th)?
3) are 4 or 5 nights down there sufficient or should we consider cutting the first half of our trip up north shorter by a day to have an extra day down south?
4) can you do the trip without a guide? are there cheaper guides than those listed online (~$400-500 per person for 3 days)? we have hiked all over the world with and without guides and are competent hikers. we would not know how to identify fauna and wildlife however. if a guide is recommended, does anyone have a suggestion of someone or a company?
5) where should me fly/drive into on the peninsula at the start of our trip? bahia drake? puerto jimenez? somewhere else? would we finish at the same place that we start at?
6) do we need to bring all our own gear? tent, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, cooking stove and utensils, etc?
7) is it feasible to leave a car/gear in town somewhere safely while we are in the park for 3 days?
8) finally, if anyone is planning on doing the hike around those dates and would like to join our group of 2 to reduced per person prices, please let me know!!
I greatly appreciate any help/advice anyone can offer.
Many many thanks!
Nov 29, 2012 5:15 PM
So a good place to start if you haven't found it already when researching Corcovado is this website.
3) 4/5 nights should be sufficient, but it certainly wouldn't be a bad place to squeeze an extra few in
4) The trip can be done without a guide, provided you really do your research about the trails and the park. That said a guide is definitely recommended for many reasons and can really help you get the most out of your trip. If you do approach the park without a guide, simply walking La Leona -> Sirena and then out again via La Leona is more advisable.
Costs of guides do vary somewhat. Also inquire as to what is included in the price- note that in addition to daily park permits, and camping/dorm reservations at Sirena, there is the opportunity to reserve meals at Sirena. These aren't cheap though, but the food is pretty decent:
A hot dinner on the night you arrive, is sometimes well worth taking.
There are many great (and not so great) guides working in Corcovado. A quick search of this forum should provide you with many names. Personally I admire surcostours, particularly Nito and Royer, but you can contact several and perhaps select based on your correspondance.
5) For hiking in and out of the park, Puerto Jimenez is the best base. From there you can arrange transport to Los Patos, or La Leona (via Carate).
Drake is best for accessing the park by boat, mostly for a day trip.
6) If you are taking a dorm - you only really need a mosquito net and a very light sleeping bag/sheet, pillow. Even if you are camping, you can borrow a foam mattress.
Most of the guides have a permanent locker at Sirena where they store a camping stove and cooking equipment for their clients to use.
7) Yes, you could probably find someone in Puerto Jimenez to keep an eye on it for a few days. Alternatively, if its a 4x4 and you choose simply to hike La Leona-Sirena-La Leona, you could make it to Carate and arrange for someone to look out for it there.
Hope that's useful - have tried to address what points i can. Feel free to post more questions, but if you do get in contact with a guide they should be a great source of information.
Dec 1, 2012 1:29 PM
2please note that the park does often sell out during the high season, so making your reservation 30 days in advance is recommended to secure your space in the park. Your guide should do this for you, however, if you need to do it solo, check with Sol de Osa, they charge a $30+ fee but it's convenient.
Dec 1, 2012 3:16 PM
3Please note both the posters above are guides at Corcovado, though they are not advertising they are, maybe they sent you a PM about their services. As a rule, there is NO Advertising on the LP Forum.
As for your inquiry, a couple additions to the advice above to consider.
First off, Corcovado needs to be the focus and priority, period. Since you are going at the PEAK high season for park visitors, those two weeks are the peak of the peak. So you need to secure your reservations/permits and meals at the ranger stations. Its also well worth it to pay for them, you dont want to hike 8 hours in the jungle with much at all, its hot, humid, challenging, dangerous, and a a pain to carry, muchless bring and buy all the supplies, promise.
I have hiked in all the countries listed on my profile, and mainly SE Asia jungles in Burma and Thailand, as well as Laos and Vietnam, and let me tell you, Corcovado is far more rugged, challenging and dangerous than anything I have ever encountered, due to many factors, the least of which is its dense jungle, there are Fer da Lance vipers everywhere, there are also herds of Peccare, that can charge you if their young is nearby. The trails are not marked, they change seasonally due to landslides and wash outs, you also have to negotiate the river with the tides, carrying your pack above your head, bull sharks and crocs in the shadows, not mention insects, spiders, and humidity and heat, many parts of the trail also go out onto the beach, and a few hundred feet later, go back in the jungle, unmarked. Now plenty of people make this trek without a guide and survive just fine, I am not trying to scare you, just warn you, on what in your in for. You also need to grasp, this untamed and raw jungle, not forest, there is nothing like it in North America, EU, north Africa or SE Asia and China. Maybe Borneo, I hear thats a similar atmosphere.
Its also best not to rush this hike, you need to get there a day early, Pt Jimenez is a small town that has lodging at all levels, and guides and transport, you can leave a rental car there, pay someone to watch it like your lodging maybe, and leave all gear at the lodging, and just take a change of clothes, travel very very light. A small day bag is best, with flashlight, hat, bandaids, neosporin, energy bars, water, and bug repellant. If you do hike the Loop, consider staying a extra night at Sirena, so you can rise early morning and see the wildlife while it is active, at twilight is best, 5-7am...
The hike from Los Patos to Sirena is a doozy, its not easy, you need to keep a good pace, darkness falls at 530 ish, in the canopy it gets dark fast once the sun goes below the tree tops...you also need to get a move on it 4am, just to get to LP from PJ. The second half of the hike from Sirena to La Leona is easier as far as the trail goes, its flatter and follows the beach most the way, though you have to time the river crossings with the tide...you need to get to La Leon by 3pm, and then walk 45 minutes on the beach to Carate, for the last collectivo to PJ at 430PM. Otherwise, stay in Carate a night.
Or, if you do have a car, and the Loop sounds like too much of a strain, you can base in Carate, and then day hike, or overnight to Sirena and back, much easier. I would still stay 2 nights at Sirena for maximum wildlife viewing.
Driving from Arenal, or Samara to Pt Jimenez in one day would be hell. From Quepos its about 4 hours. To Carate, add 2 hours, a slow go road that is 2nd gear most the way. Rule #1 in CR, dont drive at night. Rule #2, dont leave anything in the car unattended.
If you do fly, keep in mind Sansa Air flied from SJO, and Nature Air flies from Pavas airport, closer to downtown San Jose, a $22 taxi ride from SJO.
Other options, go to Drake Bay and boat in/out to San Pedrillo Ranger Station if the hiking more that you wish to endure. You can also fly from Quepos to Palmar Sur, then taxi to Sierrpe, then boat down river and Pacific coast to DB, then fly out of DB back to SJ. You can also take a water taxi from PJ to Golfito, and fly to/from Golfito, its a nice boat ride.
To use a guide or not? Corcovado is the most bio diverse park on the planet, its has more species of animal, insects, birds, and fauna than anywhere else, according to National Geographic Explorer. You will walk under it, over it, thru it, around it, by it, and not even know a thing, without a guide, promise. To come all the way to this corner of paradise, in a remote park and hike the loop, is kind of a waster without a guide IMO, not mention the safety aspect, though dry season its far more tame and negotiable for the trails.
I have hiked this park 3 times, from both directions. There is nothing else like it I have found, its is truly a gem.
Hope that helps.
Other great hikes in CR, are Rincon, and also Tenorio/Celeste Waterfalls, both north of Liberia, about 4 hours from Samara, a lot less tourist than Arenal too...
Dec 1, 2012 4:18 PM
Dec 2, 2012 5:49 AM
5Solo, really, I though we had gotten past all that pettiness.
I invite anyone to look through my comments as you will find them strictly informative. And for the record, I never private message anyone unsolicited, so please, Solo, don't accuse me of things you don't fully understand. Since I was born in Corcovado before it became a park, (my family was relocated) and have spent a lifetime on the Osa, I think my comments are relevant.
And regarding gocni, he provides excellent, relevant, and CURRENT information about the park. We are lucky to have him as a repete volunteer in the park.
Everyone, enjoy your adventures in Corcovado. it's an amazing place and I know you will enjoy it. Be sure to take Solo's comments with a bit of salt, do your own research, and form your own opinions.
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