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Hiking Corcovado

Corcovado has vast network of trails that connect the four ranger stations and lead in and out of the park at other points around the periphery. Hikes between the stations typically take between six and eight hours, and hikers have to come equipped with their own food and water, as the stations no longer provide food service to travelers. Bring purification tablets, too, but be aware that on some trails (namely between Sirena and San Pedrillo) there will be no fresh water sources for miles. All the stations provide drinking water and public bathroom facilities. You will want mosquito repellent, and sunblock is essential for exposed beach trails. Tall rubber boots are also extremely handy for wading through the mud and fording rivers or streams. Always verify beforehand that the station you are headed to is in fact open to visitors, and always make reservations if you are planning to spend the night. Also, remember that you will have to present your ACOSA permit at each station before you will be allowed entrance to the park (although day hikers can sometimes get by without them), and that you must pay the $10 per person entrance fee.


La Leona

Carate is the closest “town” to La Leona, but because of its virtually non-existent infrastructure many tours depart from nearby Puerto Jimenez instead. From the Carate Pulperia to La Leona station it is a 3km hike along the beach. La Leona can accommodate 15 campers. There are also two tent-camps nearby that you will pass before you get to the station, which provide more comfortable lodging. There are no specificly delineated public trails near La Leona, although the La Leona Lodge tent-camp has some private trails available to guests or people who have a meal there.


La Sirena

The 20km trail between La Leona and La Sirena follows the beach but for the most part is well-shaded by trees. La Sirena station is park headquarters and is therefore the most well-equipped station with the best camping facilities. Dormitory-style lodging with shared bathrooms is available for up to 20 people at $8 per person. Sheets are not included, so you may want to bring your own. Mosquito nets are also a good idea. A covered, wooden platform is also provided for pitching tents and includes foam pads. Campers can also pitch on the lawn. The enforced limit is 40 campers all together at the standard $4 per person. La Sirena is also equipped with full kitchen facilities, though their use is typically restricted to government workers and researchers. It is sometimes possible to call ahead and reserve meals. Networks of smaller trails surround the station, so it is possible to take day trips and shorter nature hikes in the area. Rio Serena, north of the station, is a great place for wildlife watching. In general the trails are well-marked and well-trodden, and from Sirena it is possible to hike to any of the other three stations.


San Pedrillo

The trail to San Pedrillo from Sirena is the most difficult trail in Corcovado, and it is best to travel with an experienced guide. The trail is 25km long, 18km of which are on the beach, meaning that they are exposed to the intense sun and lacking fresh water sources. It is recommended, therefore, that this hike be undertaken at night. Hikers will also have to cross three large rivers, which can only be forded at low tide. At any other time the currents will be too strong, the water level too high, and there is much higher risk of having unwanted encounters with bull sharks and crocodiles. This trail and the San Pedrillo station are closed from mid-April to mid-December. Go to for detailed directions on how to perform this hike.

San Pedrillo has a campground with room for 30 tents. From San Pedrillo you can keep walking to Agujitas in Bahia Drake or try to hitch a ride there one of the boats returning from a day trip to the park (these usually depart between 1p.m. and 3 p.m.) The hike from the station to Bahia Drake is 15km.


Los Patos

Any hike to Los Patos will necessarily be through the forest with no beach trails. If you are coming from the Rincon / La Palma area you will be facing a steep, uphill climb once you reach the trailhead. Los Patos offers a camping area with room for 20 tents. There are several trails surrounding the station, and it is possible to hike from here to the Guayami Indian Reservation and on to the Ngobe village. From the station it is 2.5 km out of the park and 10 km to La Palma. Sometimes it is possible to hitchhike back to town on a passing 4x4.

By Laura Granfortuna
I've always had the travel bug - maybe it's because I've been traveling around with my family since I was an infant, but mainly I think it's because...
04 Mar 2009

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