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Corcovado National Park

Photo © dontrobus

Travel Guide Central America Costa Rica Corcovado National Park

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Introduction

Toucan

Toucan

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Corcovado National Park is located on the Osa peninsula in the south of Costa Rica and its main access point is Puerto Jimenez. It still is one of the more remote national parks though but with excellent wildlife watching. Species include the scarlett macaw, many other species of birds, frogs, spiders, reptiles, tapir and even large predators like jaguar and puma, although there are much harder to spot, especially during daytime. The waterfalls, beaches and rain forest make this park a real gem and not to miss when you are in Costa Rica.

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Opening Hours

The park is open from 7:00am to 3:00pm every day.

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Cost

Permits must be reserved in advance. You must have a permit to stay overnight at Sirena. In practice, the Park often allows campers with their own food to enter without advance reservations and prepayment, but during busy times of the year even the camping areas are filled, especially Sirena Ranger Station. Sirena is the only ranger station that offers dormitory lodging and hot meals in addition to camping. La Leona, San Pedrillo, and Los Patos offer only camping with no food service. It is possible to secure park permits directly from the Ranger Station in Puerto Jiménez, but they do not accept credit cards, so it requires passing through Puerto Jiménez and a trip to the bank to make the payment or costly international wire transfers. The Park Service (MINAE) does not issue park permits more than one month in advance of anticipated arrival.

CafeNet El Sol offers a reservation service for a fee of US$30, or $10 for one-day passes; details on their Corcovado page, enabling travellers to obtain their permits in advance by credit card payment without having to travel to Puerto Jiménez or carry cash to the park. The park does not accept payments by cash or credit card, only by in-country bank deposit (no international wires). You can still pay for your park passes through CafeNet El Sol. For more details on park fees and offerings, you can visit CorcovadoBlog Tour Operator and Booking Manager offers booking service fee and you have the possibility make the payment totally online with debit/credit card.

For the El Tigre trail in Dos Brazos de Rio Tigre, the fee is US$125 for two people (guide included), which includes the $30 fee for the park entrance. The Tourism Office of Dos Brazos will handle all permits for you, saving you the trouble of making a reservation with MINAE.

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Getting There

By Plane

Sansa Costa Rica and Nature Air offer daily flights from San Jose to Puerto Jimenez. The flight takes about 45 minutes.

By Car

There are three main entrances to Corcovado National Park:

  • La Leona - Head south on the Interamerican Road and turn right on Road 245 at Chacarita, 78 kilometres up to Puerto Jimenez and 42 kilometres up to Carate.
  • Los Patos - Head south on the Interamerican Road and turn right on Road 245 at Chacarita, 56 kilometres up to La Palma and then continue for 11 kilometresm more, on the way to the Rincón River.
  • San Pedrillo - One of the most popular ways to access Corcovado National Park is through Drake Bay. You can get to Drake Bay after an exciting drive from San José. First, you will have to drive thru Cartago, Costa Rica’s first political capital. Its old churches and ruins are a good reason to make a short stop in town. Continue on the road that takes you to San Isidro del General. This road is the highest road in the country and will give you two hours of magnificent views. This is a good place to make a stop and grab something to eat. Back on the road, you will head to Palmar Sur.

In Palmar Sur you have two options:

a) Drive all the way to Drake Bay
If you decide to continue by car, you will have to drive to Chacarita and turn right. This road is partially paved and the views of the gulf and the rainforest are breathtaking. Make sure after an hour you make a left turn to Drake Bay. The road here is more rough (we recommend only 4 wheel drive cars), you will have to cross some rivers and there will be some steep hills, too.

b) Take a boat in Sierpes Pier.
Drive 20 minutes to Sierpe, find a parking place for your car and take a boat to Drake. The boat ride takes 1 1¾ - 2 hours and the mangrove on the sides of the river is the house of crocodiles, sloths and birds, among other fauna.

By Bus

A public bus from Blanco-Lobo Transport runs between San José and Puerto Jimenez leaving San José daily at 8 am and 12 pm. The trip takes about 8 to 9 hours. For information please call (+ 506) 2735-5189 / 2257-4121.
Another option is taking a public bus from Tracopa Comany to Golfito (on the east side of the Golfo Dulce). The bus leaves San José at 5:00am in the morning. From Golfito to Puerto Jimenez water taxis run several times a day between 6:00am and 3:00pm (schedule can be subject to change).

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Getting Around

Trails

  • Sendero El Tigre. A 8-km looped trail. It is a medium-high difficulty trail with large hills at the beginning and end. It can be walked in four hours or less; but most finish in six to eight hours. Time depends on walking speeds and number of stops to view the abundant wildlife.
  • Carate to La Leona. 3.5-km hike along the beach.
  • La Leona to La Sirena. The 16-km-long hike to La Leona is on a trail which is on and off the beach. It is imperative that visitors time the hike so as to arrive at the river fording 2 km shy of La Sirena at the lowest possible tide. There is potable water at a stream "Quebrada la Chancha" (Chancha Stream) just east of "Ponta La Chancha" (Chancha Point).
  • Los Patos to La Sirena. This 20-km hike is approximately eight hours through secondary rainforest. The trail slopes slightly down toward La Sirena.
  • San Pedrillo to La Sirena. This 29-km hike is approximately thirteen or fourteen hours and is almost entirely along the beach.
  • Drake to San Pedrillo. This trail is outside of the park and leads to its entrance. The hike is approximately six hours along the beach and just inside the forest.

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Eat

Meals are available at the central ranger station with advance reservation.

People often bring food inside the park with them. Commonly it is food that is easy to pack, lightweight, and non-perishable such as pastas, rice, beans, or soup packets.

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Drink

There is potable water available at each Ranger Station.

Remember to carry plenty of water during your hikes. If staying for multiple days, many people choose to bring powdered drink mixes.

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Sleep

  • Casa Corcovado Lodge. Located in the jungle, Casa Corcovado Lodge borders Corcovado National Park. The hotel keeps in touch with its natural surroundings and sits in harmony with the local environment.
  • Finca Exotica Wildlife Ecolodge, Carate Beach (At the end of the road before the entrance to Corcovado National Park), ☎ +506 2735-5230. * Finca Exotica is the closest ecolodge accessible by car to Corcovado National Park. Restaurant and cabinas are integrated naturally into the landscape and overlook the Pacific Ocean and lush tropical rainforest. Organic meals and all the coconuts you could ever want. US$80–120 (food and taxes included.

Camping is possible only at the ranger stations at the entrances and at the central ranger station. Sirena station is a series adjoining structures connected by covered walkway. A covered platform next to a kitchen area and restroom provides needed shelter for pitching free standing tents and mosquito nets. As the platform is covered, you do not need to bring a fly if you are bringing a tent. Showers are available.

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This is version 9. Last edited at 15:22 on Jan 24, 18 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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