One of the reasons why we went to Costa Rica, was because of the wildlife. So an important stop would be the Corcovado National Park.
You can get into the park by boat, plane or hiking. With all the options it is possible to stay at the Sirena Ranger Station. Most animals can be found around the Sirena Ranger Station. When you decide to book the tour for only one night, this means you walk in and out the national park without having the time to walk around the ranger station.
Staying in this national park is not cheap, but for us absolutely worth it. You can take your own food to this park (note: everything you take in the park, you have to take it with you again and it is not allowed to smoke in this park!) to save some money.
The trail we walked was Los Patos to Sirena station, 2 nights stay at the Sirena station so we had the second day to walk around Sirena. Most animals can be spotted around this area. The 3rd day we walked out from Sirena to La Carate, where you will cross the La Leona Ranger Station.
We went there in January 2013. A good condition is required for this trail! Due to the humidity and you are carrying your food, 2L of water and stuff for the 3 days, it is exhausting. Los Patos to Sirena Ranger Station is about 21km. We found earlier on the internet that the trail is ‘only’ 16km, but in the end it was 21. The way out is 19km and be prepared it can be hot, because the last 3km you have to walk on the beach (from La Leona to La Carate). It isn’t a problem to walk these last kilometers bare feet.
The adventure starts in the taxi. We crossed rivers with the taxi (don’t drive by yourself, for sure you will get stuck somewhere in the river simply not knowing where to go), the taxi driver steps out of the car to put the 4WD manually, closing the windows because of the splashing water, seeing water animals around the car. It was just amazing and funny as well! We had to sign our arrival at the Los Patos Ranger Station. After this, the taxi driver dropped us somewhere on the other side of the river where the journey started.
We saw many many monkeys high up in the trees! Take a camera with you with a good zoom, because otherwise you won’t see them on your pictures!
Luckily we saw some tapirs as well.
Surcos Tours – Guided tour Corcovado National Park
We hired a guide from Surcos Tours. I would absolutely advise a guided tour, because you won’t find the ranger station when you want to start at Los Patos. There are no signs where the Sirena Ranger station is. When you start at Carate/La Leona, it is easier to find the ranger station, but I would not advise to do this on your own.
The costs of a guided tour starting from Los Patos, with 2 nights stay at the Sirena Ranger Station to La Carate were as follows:
$232 p.p. excl meals, incl meals was $334 p.p. That’s $102 dollar for 2x dinner and 2x breakfast (no lunch). Taxi from Puerto Jimenez to Los Patos cost $80. You can take a bus from La Carate to Puerto Jimenez for $8 or the taxi for $40.
There was another couple who booked the same trail at the same days, so we shared the tour with this couple. The costs were then $165 p.p. or $260 p.p. incl meals. We booked it without the meals, but the other couple booked it with one meal and shared together. Smart!
Kitchen utensils are provided by the guide but you cannot cook there, only boiling some water is allowed. A mosquito net and a mattress are provided as well, but you have to take your own sheets with you. Although, we saw other tourists who have everything provided by the guide (also of Surcos Tours), but we did not. So that depends on the guide and how many tourists there are. The other couple didn’t had a mattress but were allowed to sleep on a dorm bed the second night.
You can buy bottles of drinking water at the ranger station for $4 per bottle of 2L. Not cheap, but it is better then carrying 6L water to the park. You can also buy water purification tablets at the pharmacy in your own country to purify river water.
When you will stay in Puerto Jimenez to get to Corcovado National Park, I would recommend to stay at Cabinas Tropicales. Mark, the owner, is a very nice guy and is very helpful. The rooms are comfortable and clean with air conditioning. There is an open living space where you can cook or just hangout with other tourists. If you are going to the Corcovado National Park, you can leave your luggage behind to pick it up later on or just stay there again when you are back from the park. It is just a few minutes walk to the beach. You can also use the bikes for free to cycle around the town.
A double room cost about $45 per night.