Corcovado National Park | Costa Rica

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Bearing the load in Corcovado National Park

Distance:  39.1 miles (63 km) approx.

Average Time: 3 days

Difficulty:

Start / Finish:

  • San Pedrillo Ranger Station – La Palma

Getting There & Away:

  • Boat: My friends (Nels and Jules from Canada) and I hired a boat from Sierpe, which took us to San Pedrillo Ranger Station.
  • For a comprehensive summary of transport options (i.e. air, bus, private vehicle) to and from Corcovado National Park see the excellent Costa Rica Guide.com.

Dimensions: 

  • Corcovado National Park covers 42,560 hectares of land and 3,354 hectares of sea.

Season:

  • All-year-round. The best time for hiking is during the dry season between December and April.
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Leaving Sierpe by boat.

General Information:

  • Regulations:  Not unexpectedly, things have changed since my visit to Corcovoda in 2000. Since February 2014, all visitors to the park must organise their trip in advance via a certified operator, and while in the park must be accompanied by a registered local guide. See Costa Rica Guide for more details.
  • Online Information: Costa Rica Guide is a good place to start your planning for a visit to Corcovado. Lots of information about flora and fauna, getting there and away, and health and safety issues. Another online source is SINAC (Sistema Nacional de Areas de Conservacion), which gives a basic rundown of the parks services and attractions.
  • Guidebook: Lonely Planet’s Costa Rica guidebook.

Corcovado National Park

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San Pedrillo Ranger Station

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Heading south along the coast from San Pedrillo Ranger Station

  • Flora & Fauna: National Geographic Magazine described Corcovoda National Park as “the most intense place in the world, biologically speaking, in terms of biodiversity.”  It consists of no less than 13 major ecosystems including lowland rain forest, highland cloud forest, jolillo palm forest, mangrove swamps, coastal marine, and beach habitats. On the wildlife front, there are tapirs, jaguars, scarlet macaws, pumas, peccaries, coatis, ocelots, crocodiles, sea turtles, hammerhead sharks, and the four species of monkeys found in Costa Rica (capuchin, howler, squirrel, and spider monkeys).

Route / Conditions:

  • Route Notes: Navigation is not a problem on the initial section between San Pedrillo Ranger Station and Sirena Ranger Station.  Quite simply follow the coast SE and you can’t go wrong. Once you reach Sirena, there is just the one main inland trail leading to Los Patos Ranger Station. It is quite wide and easy to follow. From Los Patos, there is a little-used, but easy to follow 4WD track leading NNE to La Palma. If lucky, you may be able to hitch a ride.
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Fording the Rio Sirena

  • Challenges: Although navigation in Corcovado National Park is not an issue, the section between San Pedrillo and Serena is by no means easy. For the most part, it is a shadeless beach walk, and when the tide is up, you will often be walking in soft sand. Be sure to stay well hydrated, as temperatures on the Oso Peninsula can be scorching.
  • Water: Seven kilometres from San Pedrillo there is a stream where you can obtain water. Be sure to purify. After this there are no freshwater options until you reach Sirena. In shadeless, tropical conditions such as these, you need to be drinking at least 1 litre of water per hour.
  • Tides & Crocodiles: Check the tide times before leaving San Pedrillo, as three rivers (Llorona, Corcovado and Sirena) need to be forded and each can potentially be chest-deep during high tide. I am speaking from personal experience on this one. It is worth noting that there are supposedly crocodiles and sharks near the mouth of the Rio Sirena. No place to dally.
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Squirrel Monkey

Sleeping:

  • Camping/indoor accommodation is available at the Ranger Stations.

Overview:

  • The beach hike between San Pedrillo and Sirena is gorgeous. There is no development whatsoever, and the entire stretch has a deserted tropical island feel to it. Corcovado National Park is a gem – one of my favourite places in all of Central America.