General Info on Corcovado National Park
Corcovado National Park is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular national parks in Costa Rica. Unfortunately, most people who would like to go for a hike in the park have no idea on how to get to the park and how to organize the park hike.
We can organize your Corcovado hike – but we also want you to be well-informed about how everything works. So read on, we try to answer any questions you may have about the park and hiking in the park.
How much time you need for the hike and stay on the Osa?
Most guest that want to do a Corcovado hike come to the Osa Peninsula for at least 1 week. You will need that much time because usually you will spend at least one night in Puerto Jimenez, Matapalo, or Carate before heading out to Corcovado, and another night in either of these towns after your hike. However, if you’re on a really tight schedule you may also fly-in and/or fly-out of Corcovado (Sirena Ranger Station Landing strip), and fly in and out of Puerto Jimenez. That way you may safe a night before and after the park, and it would be possible to do the hike in about 4 days.
Everything you need to know about staying overnight in Corcovado National Park
There are several Ranger stations in Corcovado, La Leona, Los Patos, and La Sirena. La Sirena is currently the only Ranger Station where guests can stay overnight – so that’s where you’ll be heading if you’re planning on a hike and overnight stay in Corcovado.
What do you need to do before staying overnight in the park?
To sleep overnight in La Sirena, you’ll need to have a Corcovado park permit, which is similar to an entrance ticket to the park. The park entrance ticket costs 10 USD per day.
You’ll have to reserve the overnight stay in La Sirena in advance – and especially during the high season it is recommended to book at least 30 days before your planned stay (that’s why booking through us makes sense, since we can make the overnight stay arrangements and buy your park entrance tickets in advance). Sirena offers camping and dormitories, ranging from 4 USD (tent) to 8 USD (dorm) a night. Food is quite expensive in Sirena, ranging from 20 – 25 USD per meal – so most people choose to bring and cook their own food (which you will usually do together with your guide the night before starting your hike).
What to bring?
The hotels and lodges we work can guard your luggage for free during the time you’re in Corcovado. That means you won’t have to bring that much into the park. All you really need are good hiking shoes or tennis shoes, a rain jacket (especially in the rainy season), a torch, a video or photo camera, and a change of clothes (since you may get rained on). We recommend quick-dry and light clothes – since it is hot, humid, and wet in Corcovado most of the year (check our weather charts below for rain and temperatures on the Osa Peninsula).
Do we need a guide?
One of the most frequent questions tourists ask is “Do we need a guide to go into Corcovado National Park?“. And “yes” – everyone recommends to go with a guide (including the Ministry of Environment of Costa Rica, MINAET, who manages the park). Additionally, a guide knows the forest quite well, and will be able to show you hidden and camouflaged animals, which you would most likely never find on your own.
Another reason why a guide is really important is because they can see “dangers” much quicker than you. Guides are great at spotting dangerous animals and can react quickly in case you’re about to step onto a snake. If you’d be hiking alone there is a higher risk that you’d accidentally step on a venomous snake, which would probably ruin the hike. Furthermore, there are a lot of river and ocean crossings on the path to Sirena Ranger Station. Rivers swell up a lot during high-tide. The guide will know and calculate for high-tides and bring you to La Sirena safely. There are also crocodiles and bullsharks in the water…so crossing alone at high-tide is definitely not recommended.
The guides will also plan the entire hike for you, they can go and buy food with you, cook with you, and they will give you a lot of amazing background info on the park and it’s animals.
However, you can do the hike by yourself, but we generally don’t recommend it. If you book your Corcovado hike through us, we will reserve a knowledgeable guide for you, and we take care of all the reservations at La Sirena, the entrance park ticket, the hotel stay, and much more. The guides we work with are all certified and have been working in Corcovado a long time.
Reservations should be done early and before your arrival – all around the year – since the Ranger Station may be full when you arrive. Even in the rainy season La Sirena is often completely booked, and travelers have to wait around 2 – 7 days for their hike (which will interfere with your travel plans). That’s why you should book your Corcovado hike through us – we’ll reserve the guide for you, buy your entrance tickets, and reserve the overnight stay in Sirena for you. Just contact us here and ask us any questions you may have, or make your reservation.
Fly in & Fly out of Corcovado National Park / La Sirena Ranger Station
You can also fly to La Sirena Ranger Station from Puerto Jimenez. If you don’t mind spending around 70 – 200 USD, this is a great way to get into and out of the park quickly. You can also just fly one way and hike one way. Usually flights are around 70 USD one way per person if the plane is filled with 4 people. This is generally not a problem in the high season (December – end of April). Flights have to be booked in advance – and we’re happy to arrange them for you!
As many other travel agents, we offer Corcovado Hiking Packages. We can arrange everything or just arrange parts for your trip. Our package prices are one of the lowest you’ll find. Please inquire for your price here – since it always depends on the number of people and days you’d like to go.
Three-day Corcovado Hike to La Sirena Ranger Station
Day 1 – You’ll arrive to in Puerto Jimenez and check into your hotel. Your guide will meet you at the hotel and explain to you all you still need to know. He’ll then go shopping with you to the nearest supermarket. You’ll spend the night in your hotel. The hotel will usually also store your luggage, since you’ll return to stay there after the Corcovado hike.
Day 2 – On the first “park day” you’ll usually get up very early (around 4 – 5am) and travel to the park entrance (Carate) with your guide in a collectivo bus. The collectivo bus is a rather ancient truck with seats built onto the back. It is definitely a bumpy adventure to ride on the bus, and nothing for people with back problems! You’ll arrive in Carate around 2 – 3 hours later, and start your hike. You’ll pass La Leona Ranger station, and keep on hiking until you arrive at La Sirena Ranger Station. The hike takes about 8 hours, including the 3 hours to get to the park entrance, you’ll be on the go for around 11 – 12 hours. You’ll eat lunch on the way into park (usually pre-packed, pre-made), and then cook dinner (mostly together with your guide) at La Sirena. You’ll sleep at La Sirena either in a dormitory room, or in a tent, depending what you’ve booked in advance.
Day 3 – You’ll have a full day at La Sirena Ranger Station, and be able to hike around for short hikes with your guide. You’ll eat and sleep one more night at La Sirena.
Day 4 – You’ll leave La Sirena again early in the morning after breakfast. You’ll hike the same way out with your guide. This may sound boring, but the other way “back” usually does look quite different, and you’ll most likely see different animals. You’ll get back to Carate in the afternoon, in time to take the Collectivo Bus back to Puerto Jimenez. You’ll arrive in town around 7pm, and check into your hotel you stayed at before your hike.
Day 5 – You’re free to leave Jimenez and carry on with your journey, OR you can enjoy the city a bit longer, visit Playa Preciosa or do some other activities.
Corcovado Hike and Boat Option
Another option to avoid having to hike there and back to La Sirena Ranger station is to Hike-in the park and take a boat out of the park. You’ll hike into the park on Day 2, but instead of hiking back out on Day 4, you’ll take a boat from La Sirena Ranger Station for 25 USD, which takes you to Drake Bay. You may decide to spend another night in Drake’s Bay (or several) and continue your travels from there, or take private transportation back to Puerto Jimenez together with your guide.
Flying into Corcovado National Park
Corcovado has also an airstrip at La Sirena Ranger Station. You can hike in one way, and fly out the other, or fly both ways – and avoid a lot of hiking but see a lot of animals around the Ranger Station!