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need a little advice/info on Drake Bay for a new visitor

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Texas
posts: 14
need a little advice/info on Drake Bay for a new visitor

Hi, two thirty year old guys are headed to Costa Rica on Nov. 21 and are trying to finalize our itinerary. I really want to go to the Drake Bay/Corcovado/Cano Island area and have a few questions.

We arrive at SJO airport at 1PM and I see there is a 3PM Sansa flight to Drake Bay. Will it be easy to connect between these flights with only 2 hours or less? I assume they are at the same airport since Sansa lists SJO , or is it another smaller airport nearby?

When we land at Drake Bay, is it easy to get to the hotels? It sounds like I just need to arrange that with the resort but I’ve also read a few posts on here about wading through rivers to get to the resort.

Once in Drake Bay, I would like to Scuba Dive so I’m looking to stay at Hotel Jinetes de Osa or Pirates Cove? Are there any places more budget-friendly that are still easy to go diving from and help arrange transfer to and from the airport? We don’t require fancy accommodations and would love to save on the hotel.

What is the best way to get the most out of Corcovado Park? We are both in great shape and are ready to hike. I usually don’t like tour groups or guided tours but is that necessary for a short visit to the park? Can I start walking from my Drake Bay hotel and do the park or do I need transportation from the hotel to get to the park?

After flying back to San Jose, we are going directly to the Arenal area where we want to hike to the waterfall, enjoy Tabacan Hot Springs, go canyoning, and finally white water raft either in from the Arenal area or from San Jose on the day before we fly back. Considering this, should we do 3 full days in Drake Bay and 2.5 days in Arenal with rafting or 2 full days in Drake Bay and 3.5 days in Arenal with rafting?

Thanks so much!

Brooklyn, New York
posts: 803
reviews: 16
1. Re: need a little advice/info on Drake Bay for a new visitor

I can answer some of the questions:

The Sansa terminal is right next door to SJO. You just have to walk about 5 minutes. It's basically like another terminal. If there are no delays in your incoming flight, you shouldn't have any problems making the connection, but it could be close. I'd recommend not checking bags if you can and sitting toward the front of the plane -- to minimize your time out of the plane, through immigration, and out of the airport.

I know nothing about Drake Bay, so can't speak to that, but for the Corcovado section of your trip, be sure to check out this site: http://www.corcovadoguide.com/

Should give you everything you could possibly need to know about hiking in the park.

I highly recommend staying at least two nights at the Sirena ranger station, reserving a bed and all meals, and hiring a local guide for your trip into and out of the park. There are several local guides you can hire. You'll see WAY more wildlife this way, and it's just plain safer.

I can recommend Nito Paniagua, firsthand. He can be reached at nitolaparios@gmail.com.

Also, Jaguardman, here on TA, seems like he'd be an amazing guide too.

Good luck!

Puerto Jimenez...
posts: 354
reviews: 3
2. Re: need a little advice/info on Drake Bay for a new visitor

The thing is, Drake Bay is a general area, not a town, and I think this throws people off.

There is the main town of Aguajitas which is just a few blocks big, and has a few different lodging options. (On the low end, there is Cabinas Manolo which is low cost, clean and located not far from the main bay/beach). Then there are the resorts, which tend to be outside of town (Hotel Jinetes de Osa is at the far end of the Aguajitas beach).

There are many many lodging options in the Drake area, so be sure to ask about where it is located, if you can walk from Aguajitas to the lodge, how long the walk will take, or if you need to take a boat with your luggage.

The lodges want you to book everything with them, your tours, your dives, your meals, everything. But you don't have to. You can book everything through them if it's good for you, or book separately through other local businesses.

For a trip into Corcovado, mostly in the Drake area they sell one day trips into the park. A boat picks you up around 7 am, and you arrive in the park around 9am or later, then spend about 5-6 hours in the park during the midday, and then boat back to the Drake area in the afternoon.

IMHO a better experience is to spend some time hiking into the park from either Los Patos or La Leona (which are not in the Drake area). Many people enjoy spending two nights at the Sirena Biological Station.

It is possible to hike from Aguajitas to the San Padrillo Ranger Station and it's about a 7 hour hike. But you can not hike from there to the Sirena Ranger Station as the trail has been permanently closed. If this is interesting, I'd suggest one or two nights camping at San Padrillo.

If your not use to hiking in the tropical rain forest, not sure about snakes and other wild animals you may encounter, I highly recommend hiring a guide. It will make your experience that much richer and safer. Nito is indeed a terrific guide and I often refer him if I am booked. (Plumboy, thanks for the shout out, above...)

If I can offer any more information about Drake Bay, Caño Island, or Corcovado, feel free to follow up on this thread or send me a private message on Trip Advisor.

Pura Vida and good luck,

Ballardo Diaz, Jungle Guide

Edited: 4:26 pm, November 09, 2010
Brooklyn, New York
posts: 803
reviews: 16
3. Re: need a little advice/info on Drake Bay for a new visitor

And I just want to reiterate and stress that I think hiring a guide for Corcovado is super important. Besides the fact that a knowledgeable guide will know the best way to weave in and out on the La Leona-Sirena trail (and trust me, you'll want to weave out of the sun!), you really won't see half the wildlife without one. You're going all that way, you might as well make it worth your while. Definitely don't scrimp in this area.

And as Jaguardman hints at above, you may want to fly to Puerto Jimenez instead of Drake Bay, and enter the park from that direction. If you do that, you can stay at La Leona Eco Lodge or at one of the other lodges in Carate or Matapalo before/after your hike in/out of Corcovado.

way north
posts: 39
reviews: 3
4. Re: need a little advice/info on Drake Bay for a new visitor

I would fly into Drake Bay. Stay at Finca Mariesa the first and last night. Get Miguel help line up the tours and to take the boat to La Sirena Ranger station overnight.

Then Fly back to SJO and rent an SUV. Drive to Turiabla area and run the Pacaruye or the Rentavance. My bad for spelling but you will figure it out. Easily the best rivers, with great outfitters in Costa Rice, in my opinion. But we all know about opinions.

Drive arenal for the last few days. Stay on the south west side if you want to see lava at night. The observation lodge is as close as it gets.

Not too sure how road is over the spine but the route by La paz waterfall area is pretty cool while in transit from rafting to the volcano.

Make sure to have the overnight permits hambered out for the park with all meals before you go.

Jeff

Brooklyn, New York
Destination Expert
for Sarapiqui
posts: 4,222
reviews: 85
5. Re: need a little advice/info on Drake Bay for a new visitor

Ha. We're doing just as Jeff suggests--two nights Finca Maresia, two nights Sirena, two nights Finca Maresia. And, yes, the Pacuare River and Arenal Ovservatory Lodge are quite spectacular.

Texas
posts: 14
6. Re: need a little advice/info on Drake Bay for a new visitor

Thanks for all of the help everybody!

(especially Plumboy for letting me know the airport transfer to Sausa is possible and reminding me that I will have to go through Customs first)

The advice about staying overnight in the Corcovado is great but I don't think that will work for this trip. I LOVE the idea but my partner is not huge on camping and we don't really have the option of packing a tent and camping supplies for this trip.

And we chose Drake Bay over Puerto Jimenez because we'd like to SCUBA dive one of the days we are there (which also takes up a day and prevents us from doing the overnight in Corcovado)

I think I've narrowed the itinerary down (the rafting suggestion was great!!):

SUNDAY: Fly into San Jose and then into Drake Bay

Stay at Hotel Jinetes de Osa (if they have a room)

MONDAY: SCUBA dive at Cano Island

TUESDAY: Either guided tour of Corcovado or a self hike along to the cost to the entrance to Corcovado (I'll work more on figuring the hike/tour out and my be in touch)

WEDNESDAY: Fly back to SJO, rent car and drive to Arenal area

THURSDAY & FRIDAY: Canyoning, hiking and Tabacan Hot Spring in the Arenal Volcano/La Fortuna area

SATURDAY: Morning hike and then drive back to San Jose

SUNDAY: Raft the Lower Pacuare River with pick up and return to San Jose

SUNDAY: Fly home

Brooklyn, New York
posts: 803
reviews: 16
7. Re: need a little advice/info on Drake Bay for a new visitor

Totally get the partner-not-interested-in-roughing-it-too-much thing. Mine isn't into that either, so I just went by myself! So there. But, I know most people wouldn't do that. Sounds like you're going to have a great time -- I wish I could go back soon too...

I've always heard great things about the Bug Lady in Drake Bay. I think it's a night tour, supposedly amazing. Check it out if you have time.

Have fun!

Puerto Jimenez...
posts: 354
reviews: 3
8. Re: need a little advice/info on Drake Bay for a new visitor

FYI, it is not necessary to camp at Sirena, they offer dorm room and also hot meals.

Sounds like you are going to have a wonderful time. Enjoy the magic of the Osa. I'm lucky to call it home.

Pura Vida,

Ballardo Diaz, Jungle Guide

Texas
posts: 14
9. Re: need a little advice/info on Drake Bay for a new visitor

Thanks guys, you are great with all of the help.

Curious about more details on touring Corcovado from Drake Bay. I know that Drake Bay is not the preferred side of Osa to enter the Park from and I will have to take a boat to get to the park. From what I've seen online, the one day tours generally arrive by boat mid morning. Is there a pretty standard time frame that all day tours from Drake leave about the same time and get back to Drake at about the same time (obviously the quality of the guide while in the park may differ greatly but are the times pretty standard?)

And I'm still considering doing a tour with a one night stay in the park, probably Tues/Wed. What are the general time frames for these tours from Drake Bay? And what is a range of prices for a two day guided tour with transportation from Drake Bay area?

Brooklyn, New York
Destination Expert
for Sarapiqui
posts: 4,222
reviews: 85
10. Re: need a little advice/info on Drake Bay for a new visitor

We were quoted a very good price my Finca Maresia. You can expect to pay $75-95 per person for a day tour by boat to Sirena, with overnights (including food and dorm lodging) being more expensive of course.