When you hear the word “jungle,” what goes through your head?
For me, Corcovado “jungle” sounds like: rivers with bull sharks, pumas, hot humidity, mosquitos, snakes, and awesome wildlife. It sounds like the most amazing place to understand and connect with nature.
Corcovado National Park was on my list for a long time. After listening to my parents’ stories from college years when my dad got lost in Corcovado, I was intrigued to see if it was as wild as they said.
And recently, the day to meet this legendary place had finally come. Rodrigo has already been here but also was happy to be back. We had arranged with a couple from Holland to do this adventure together, who also has a travel blog. You can check @mytravelsecret (Everything is in Dutch :).
Corcovado National Park is famous as the park that hosts 2,5 % of the biodiversity of the world. According to our National System of conservation areas (SINAC for the letters in Spanish).
When I read this, I had to process it again. Corcovado is home to 50 percent of the country’s species and harbors—2,5% percent of the world’s biodiversity. That’s pretty intense!
National Geographic has called the Osa Peninsula, the area where Corcovado National Park is, “the most biologically intense place on Earth.”
There are various access points to Corcovado National Park:
- La Leona
- San Pedrillo
- Los Patos
- Los Planes
You can get there by air, car, bus or boat. However, this is the observations we got from the people who live in the area and their order of choices.
Airplane: It’s the easiest and fastest and most comfortable, but it is expensive.
Taxi Boat: The second choice, as it’s sometimes hard.
Car: it’s almost impossible to get through the rivers during the rainy season
Bus: There is a company called “Transportes Blanco” that travels daily from San José to Puerto Jimenez and vice-versa. If you want to go to Drake Bay you can take this bus, but you need to get off in “Rincon,” which is the main entrance to get to Drake Bay.
From Rincon, you will take another bus. We have been told that the bus schedule is 11:30 am and 4:30 am.
Link (apparently you can buy the tickets online): Click here
When you book your accommodation in either Puerto Jimenez or Drake Bay, they can help you with travel arrangements and suggested routes or ways to explore the park. Also, tour operators are in the area and can help you with all the arrangements.
Seasons: Dry (January to April) Rainy (May to November) December is a transition month. I think you need to be brave enough to go in the rainy season.
In our case, we visited in February. We had the advice of our friends from Nativos Corcovado who suggested to explore the park in the following way:
- Arrival Day 1: spend the night in Drake Bay
- Day 2: take the boat and access the park through Sirena Station. Spend the night in Sirena station.
- Day 3: Hike from Sirena – La Leona – Carate and then go back to Drake Bay
- Last Day 4: Recovery and explore Drake Bay area.
Also, I read that some people do a 3-day hike staying in Puerto Jimenez and starting in Carate -Leona-Sirena-Carate.
The boat ride from Drake Bay to Corcovado National Park
Boat is one of the most popular ways to get into the national park. We took the boat at 6:30 am at Drake Bay beach and it took us an hour to get to the entrance of Corcovado National Park. The cost per person was around $30.
The sea was calm and no one got sick. Although they advised that depending on the tides it could be bumpy. In the rainy season, they have to check the tides and some days they can’t access the park by boat.
Corcovado National Park: Reservation, certified guides and food regulations
One of the most common questions that I found on the web, is this one:
I heard that you need a permit and also a guide in order to do any hiking in Corcovado National Park. In other words, you cannot go on your own at all. Does anyone know if this is true and how to go about getting a permit?
User from Tripadvisor, Feb 2, 2015, 7:42 PM
Since December 15, 2016, the reservation system changed and is split in a platform that can be a little confusing to the visitor. SINAC is in charge of National Park entrance, and the accommodations and food are managed by a local association called ADI that runs development projects in the area.
The answer is that the information is true: you do need a permit to hike in the park. How to go about getting the permit? ... well, there are many details that make the reservation process a little hectic even for us as locals going there for the first time. Plus, every traveler does things differently depending budget, physical condition and time they want to spend in the area.
However, the reasons for the permit system are understandable after accidents inside the park like the controversial case of Cody Dial—a 27-year-old student from the United States. (NatGeo also has a series about it). It was better to change the system. Plus, I am sure there were other factors that added to the decision.
You may be thinking this is exaggerated, but in any place that is full of wildlife like Corcovado, it’s better to be smart and respectful of nature. So we did our reservations with a tour operator, but you will find plenty of travel agents or hotels that will help.
On the other hand, I think the permit model is helping the local economy to benefit from tourism. I love to see the tour guides guiding people on the trails because that means there is a local family that is receiving an income.
So here is a chart that we want to share with you and might help you understand the dynamics and factors involved when you visit the area.
Still, if you feel that you want to make your reservation directly on your own, we are going to leave the information below about the entrance and the accommodation to the park. Take into consideration that you have to do it 30 days in advance to guarantee spaces.
Local tour guide operators
We found information online about two associations we would recommend as guides. Also, you can contact us and we can recommend the tour operator that we use and some contacts that we have in the area.
I read reviews on TripAdvisor about Sirena Ranger station, and apparently, the upgrade is significantly better. The place is not a bad spot to be in the middle of the jungle. The shower was clean and the bunk beds had mosquito nets but … it was a little crowded and not so good for people who are light sleepers, mainly because of the noises (not wildlife noises, human noises: snores, farts, people moving). Oh yeah, I had a fun night!
The accommodation includes bunk beds with mosquito nets, sheets, and pillows.
The price per person is $30. There is no camping allowed.
Here is the link (Click here) to the consortium website where you can make the reservation for accommodation and food.
You are not allowed to bring your own food into the national park. The food was pretty good—no complaints. The food will offer vegetarian options, and you might ask for vegan options, as well.
|Breakfast (6am-8am)||$20 USD p.p|
|Kid´s Breakfast||$10 USD p.p|
|Snacks (10am -11: 30 am) *||$12 USD p.p|
|Lunch (12md- 1pm)||$25 USD p.p|
|Kid´s Lunch||$12.50 USD p.p|
|Dinner (6-7pm)||$25 USD p.p|
|Kid´s Dinner||$12.50 USD p.p|
* The rate for children is established between 3 years and 12 years.
Entrance Fee to the park:
Rates in Sirena:
Admission adults: $15
Admission children: $5
They don’t accept international wire transfers, so you have to do a deposit to their bank account when you get to the country.
Here is the email address to make your reservation: [email protected]
To make reservations for the day, communicate to: [email protected]
Phone: (506) 2735- 5036 – National Park Office
Link to SINAC website: Click here
However, you can’t make reservations through the website.
If you decided to do something similar as we did, here are our expenses for the trip. This will differ depending on the tour operator or the route that you pick.
The main purpose of this blog was more to provide information about reservations and the system to go to Corcovado National Park. We are going to talk more about trekking and wildlife in another post. There is so much to talk about Corcovado but the most important for us is to help you understand the system and share our experience. It definitely will be one of the highlight trips of 2018!
In conclusion, if you are a nature lover and enjoy your time getting wild, Corcovado National Park is the place for you. Corcovado is not for everybody, but since we’re wired to seek out comfort, why not include a trip like this to your bucket list and let comfort go!
- Arturo Mora (Personal communication, March 10th,2018) Staff from SINAC – ACOSA Office.
- James Badilla (Personal communication, March 9th,2018) Staff from ADI Corcovado-Carate(Non-profit Association)
- Cabinas Jimenez (consulted March 8th,2018) Corcovado National Park. Recovered from: http://www.cabinasjimenez.com/corcovado-national-park/
- Sinac Official Website (consulted March 8th,2018) Área de Conservación Osa (ACOSA). Recovered from: http://www.sinac.go.cr/ES/ac/acosa
- TripAdvisor (consulted March 7th,2018) Sirena Ranger Station. Recovered from: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g309281-d309769-Reviews-Sirena_Ranger_Station-Corcovado_National_Park_Osa_Peninsula_Province_of_Puntarenas.html
- Ligia Morera (Personal Notes and Pictures, Trip Februrary 2018)