Corcovado National Park – How to enjoy some of the most unspoiled part of Costa Rica

One of the highlights of the trip was Corcovado, a national park on the Osa peninsula. National Geographic described it as being “”the most biologically intense place on Earth” and I have to say that I agree with them. The national park was amazing!! Since we found it a bit confusing to figure out what to do before we got this I’m going to write a bit about how we chose to do it and what we learned from it so that you can too enjoy this unspoiled paradise!

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First of all, the Corcovado National park is not for the average tourist. It’s hard hiking combined with humid and hot rainforrest, long treks, mosquitos and very basic accomodations. If you are anything like us and is not put of by this the Corcovado national park will definently not dissapoint you. It’s awesome!

Alright, first things first.

How to get there:
There are two options on starting points for the trek into Corcovado. You can either start from Puerto Jimenez or you can start from Drake. Right now the choice is made for you as the route from Drake (San Pedrillo Ranger station)  to the Sirena ranger station is closed. We didn’t really understand why untill we realized that the entire 10-15 hour trek had to be done on the beach which is pretty much the most gruesomme way to trek as the sand just steals all your energy. We drove to Puerto Jimenez ourself which is the only way to do it right now that I know of. There are plenty of bussed that go here as this is the gateway to the national park. Get to Puerto Jimenez and the rest will sort itself out 🙂

Booking the tour:
We chose to go with the two nights basic trip from Puerto Jimenez to Sirena Ranger station and back. As we had experienced so far on the trip that having a guide really increases your chances of seeing wildlife we got a guide to help us spot stuff. Having a guide was relaxing and it did help us see stuff that we hadn’t seen without him, but if you’re on a tight budget then the trip is doable without one. With or without a guide you still have to go to the national park office which is located right next to the airstrip in Puerto Jimenez to reserve your place on the ranger station. If you want meals at the ranger station you also have to book this in advance at the same office. After you have done your reservation you get a slip that you bring to the bank back on the main strip in town to pay for your upcoming adventure. You then have to go back to show the national park office your receipt and then you’re good!

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If you want to get a guide like we did then just go asking all the tour agencies down the main road in Puerto Jimenez and try to haggle down the price. There was definitively a chance to save some money as we paid far less for the guide we ended up with than the pre made packages that many of the tour agencies offered.

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Preparing for the trek:
On the preparation part we really messed up.. After being in civilization for so long it was hard to imagine a place without shops and opportunities to buy something. Even in the darkest corners of Lao and Camboadia there was always a stand selling crackers and candy. It turns out that Corcovado is nothing like Lao and Cambodia.. Except for the prepaid meals and the water you can get at the ranger station there is nothing to buy anywhere in the park. So unless your Survivorman or Bear Grylls I’m telling you to prepare, prepare!!

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Preparation includes buying enough mosquito repellant, you will definently need it. Getting a sleeping bag or silk sleeping bag, mosquito net and enough water to last the trek to the park. It’s very expensive to eat at the ranger station, but it means that you won’t have to bring more than enough snacks and food to last you for two lunches. We decided to bring our own stuff to save money and forgot to buy stuff before it was too late… I know.. annoyingly stupid.., but in all fairness we were lulled into a state of tranquility by a good dinner and an ocean view! Bottom line, if you’re anything like us then buy the complete package. If you’re not on a RTW trip and is packing the proper gear like propane burner, kitchen utensils and general camping gear than I would recommend buying your meals there. You can survive for a while on crackers, but the treks are really long and hard and you need all the energy you can get. Just to get one thing straight Puerto Jimenez is not the place to fill up on stuff for your trip, but it’s the only place so you have to work with it. The only thing they sell in the shops are candy and crackers, so getting somer proper camping food is very hard.

If you have any questions about the trek don’t hesitate to contact me with the contact form. Have a good trip!

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