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Alt: 8m Pop: 4,100

Sierpe is a friendly, relaxed town in the Diquis Valley, where life and activity revolve around the river from which it gets its name. Coming here, you quickly become attuned to the pace and spirit of the community. Sierpe doesn’t get a lot of attention, for many serving purely as a gateway to Drake, though it offers all the same tours and activities, minus the beach. This is also the launch point for tours to the Terraba-Sierpe Naitonal Wetlands, the biggest mangrove reserve in Latin America. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot you can do here on land. The hot spot in town is a bar/restaurant/tour operator/gift shop called Las Vegas. It has everything a tourist could ask for, including internet access, and it’s the main hangout for the little expat community here, as well as for many of the locals.

Sierpe's principal industry is tourism, although as you come through Palmar you will also notice the sprawling banana plantations and rows of oil palms - two of the major cash crops in this area. Sierpe is one of the many places in Costa Rica where bananas were key in the history and development of the town. Sierpe and Palmar first began to see significant population growth in 1938, when, after abandoning its plantations on the Carribean side, the Costa Rican Banana Company initiated cultivations in the Pacific Southeast, eventually establishing its headquarters in Palmar Sur. In addition to the plantations, the company built a medical clinic, a landing strip and housing for its workers, all of which contributed to the area's growth.


The Banana Company also made some interesting discoveries while clearing the land for planting – it's bulldozers kept stumbling into the large granite spheres that have become the archaeological trademark of this area, buried partially or completely underground. These pre-Columbian artifacts can be found all along the road from Palmar to Sierpe, and a few small spheres were also discovered on Isla del Caño. The spheres have remained a mystery in the same class as Stonehenge and the statues of Easter Island. Nothing has yet been found to indicate how they were created or why. In Sierpe there is one, unmarked sphere sitting in the central park.

The original inhabitants of this region were, primarily, the Borucas, who still occupy parts of the area. The Boruca Indian Reserve is about an hour from Sierpe, and a few tour operators such as Corcovado Expeditions in Drake offer tours to the community.


Other places nearby Sierpe: Coco Island National Park, Golfito, Pavones, Ciudad Neily, Bahia Drake (Drake Bay), Cabo Matapalo, Puerto Jimenez, Carate, Parque Nacional Corcovado and Parque Nacional Piedras Blancas.

27 Oct 2008

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