If you plan to head down to the Osa, plan at MINIMUM a 3 day trip to Corcovado. I would love to go back and I would love to spend 3 or 4 nights at the Sirena ranger station.
Our trip started from Puerto Jimenez and took the colectivo to Carate and started on the La Leona trail. We spent 2 nights at Sirena, hiking around Sirena on the second day. Our third day we hiked out Los Patos.
The La Leona trail was beautiful. The combination of walking along the beach, to the dense primary and secondary forest and back again was awesome. There were birds everywhere and we immediately came across a family of spider monkeys. One of my main reasons for wanted to go to Costa Rica was to see monkeys, so I was delighted to see them so quickly. Shortly after we came across a family of capuchins. We also could hera the howler monkeys off in the distance, though did not see them until we got to Sirena. Our guide was also able to take us off the trail to see a few poison dart frogs (Nito from Surcos Tours, can't recommend him enough). The river crossings were easy at low tide, only having to take your boots off. I was expecting carrying your bag over your head type of crossings, but at low tide the water isn't even knee deep. Along the beach later on, we saw a tapir eating the leaves on a tree which was cool to see. As mentioned earlier, there were a ton of birds, including a ton of scarlet macaws. We came across puma tracks on the beach, but sadly no pumas (that day anyway). Later on, we came across a deer which only grows to be around 3 feet tall. They are very timid, so if you don't spot it immediately, they will vanish on you. Overall, the La Leona trail is relatively easy. It's long, but compared to Los Patos, it was a cinch. There is relatively minor elevation changes. There are a few steep sections to climb and rocks to maneauver around on the beach, but the climbing was aided by a ton of roots to grab onto and set your feet on. A couple sections of beahc are sketchy and would be impassable at high tide. There were also a couple sections where rock slides and trees falling had just happened, so you need to watch out for that when walking below a sheer cliff or steep, eroding cliff.
The Sirena ranger station was a welcome site after a long day of hiking. Right away, there were groups of howler monkeys and spider monkeys in the trees surrounding the station. There were a ton of large black vultures that were really neat to see hanging out in the trees. There are some incredibly large spiders with webs on your way to the sinks, showers, and bathrooms, but they don't seem to care to leave their webs so you don't need to worry about them. The showers are cold water, but that is fantastic when you are drenched in sweat and need an escape from the 35 degree weather and extreme humidity level. Hiking around the station is amazing. There are two beautiful rivers near by where you will see a ton of birds and the chance of seeing tapirs, caimen, puma, and bull sharks. Walking along the trails at Sirena, we came across all 4 types of monkey (squirrel was the last type we had not yet seen), a ton of birds, including the red-capped manakin, famous for its Michael Jackson-style mating dance, as well as toucans, great currasso, and several others, caimen, the deadly eye-lashed pit-viper, several large and strange bugs, basilisk lizards, which we witnessed run across the water, several times, tons of other lizards, frogs, collared peccaries (the non-dangerous type of peccary), and finally, a puma, which was absolutely amazing to see. Our guide was also able to show us the behaviours of a ton of different species of ants, which was actually very interesting to learn and witness. We saw army ants invading tiger ants and watched a full on bug warfare, army ants who build bridges by connecting themselves to allow others to walk across them faster, a swarm of army ants marching and eating everything in their path, followed by hundreds of birds hoping to pick up the ants' kills. There was so much more wildlife we saw that I couldn't possibly list it all.
There was still so much to see that we needed at leats one or 2 more days at sirena. While we were out seeing other amazing wildlife, others at the station came across a mother tapir and her baby, bull sharks in the river, the deadly fer-de-lance, and ocelots crossing right in front of the ranger statuion.
Our thurd day, we hiked out Los Patos trail. This trail lets you know you are in the dense jungle. Wildlife on this trail wa sa bit more sporadic and we did not see nearly as much as we did along La Leona. The trail is also significantly more difficult, with a ton of ups and downs, steep trails, and difficult footing as the rainforest has very poor soil quality and typically you are walking on very slick clay which will stick to your boots, giving you no traction. I ended up twisting my ankle pretty badly and would not have made it out without a walking stick my guide had found and picked up. If it rains, or has rained recently, this trail will be near impossible to navigate. To get out, you or your guide need to have prearranged a pickup from a 4x4 txi service which will cost you $80. The ride out will show you why it costs so much. There is no road. You must cross a river 22 times, which was pretty cool to experience. Because of this, it takes a special vehicle with a high clearance and the ability to pump water out of its engine. The ride was a blast.
If you want to see a different part of the park and experience thick, dense jungle and all the ups and downs of the small mountains/hills of Corcovado, then by all means do the Los Patos trail, but only if it has been relatively dry lately. When we did it, it had rained while we came in on the La Leona trail, so Los patos had 2 days to dry and was still very slick. If you want to see wildlife and have more picturesque views, stick to the La Leona trail.
I'm glad I experienced Los patos and you may be like me and want to see a different part of the park and nothing I say will change your mind, and that's ok too, it was an experience. But I can all but guarantee nyou will not have the same type of wildlife sightings you had on La Leona.
If I were to do it all over again, I would have taken the La Leona trail in as well as back out. Its an easier trail, with significantly more wildlife sightings, and very picturesque. I would have also spent at least 1, if not 2 more nights at the Sirena ranger station. If you are unsure if you want to hire a guide, get one. Without our guide, we would not have seen the amount of wildlife we did. We may have also missed the safe times to cross the rivers, or crossed in the wrong spots where it was significantly more difficult (one couple going it alone did this).
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