Corcovado National Park
Corcovado National Park Ranger Stations
The locations of each of the ranger stations located inside Corcovado National Park is shown in red in the map below. Access points from the nearest towns are shown in blue. Click on the red marker and/or ranger station name inside the map to link directly to individual the ranger station descriptions, or click on the links given below:
San Pedrillo Ranger Station
San Pedrillo Ranger Station is located on the Pacific Coast at the far northwestern border of Corcovado National Park. San Pedrillo is located XX km southwest of the town of Agujitas, sometimes mistakenly referred to as Drake. Access is by either horseback or foot along the coastal trail that links Agujitas with San Pedrillo. Unlike many parts of the Corcovado coastline that are difficult to reach by boat because of high surf, boats are able to reach San Pedrillo without problem, and there is daily boat traffic from Drake area lodges and San Pedrillo both in the morning and afternoon.
The trail connecting San Pedrillo to Sirena is XX km in length and takes twelve hours to hike. Arrangements can be made with Agujitas based private boats to carry passengers from San Pedrillo to Sirena ranger station. However, such arrangements must be made in advance as there is no communications from San Pedrillo to the outside world.
The San Pedrillo Ranger Station is open only during the dry summer months. It closes in mid-April and does not re-open until mid November. Check with park authorities or local tour providers since opening and closing dates are not fixed and vary according to weather and circumstances.
The San Pedrillo Ranger Station offers camping facilities with restroom, shower, and potable water. There is no lodging capacity beyond what is required for park staff stationed at the San Pedrillo, and there is no food service to the public.
The rangers at the San Pedrillo ranger station will inspect the permits and passes of all visitors. Day visitors that reach the park without prior arrangements can pay in cash the daily use fee of $10 for foreigners and can use the camping facilities according to availability for $4 per person.
There are a number of trails in the San Pedrillo area, and full-day tours of this part of the park are a staple tour of Drake area lodges, which convey guests to the park entrance early in the morning by motorboat. Guided tours extend to mid-afternoon, with pack lunches provided, and the same boats return in the afternoon to the originating lodges. Mostly, individual lodges have their own tour guides and boats, and normally, visitors seeking a day trip to the park that are not staying at a lodge that sponsors such tours can typically arrange to join a group with another lodge. The 2007-2008 fee for the full-day San Pedrillo area Corcovado guided tour is $70 at nearly all the lodges.
The San Pedrillo staff ranges from XX - XX, where job duties in addition to providing support for visiting guests, includes protection of the forest and enforcement of laws against hunting, collecting wildlife, mining gold, and similar forbidden activities.
Los Patos Ranger Station
Los Patos Ranger Station is located near the eastern boundary of Corcovado National Park. It occupies a highland position along a ridge that is located between the Rincon and Pavon River drainages. Los Patos can be reached by foot from three different directions. The main Los Patos park entrance trail arrives at the ranger station from the Rincon River valley. At the park boundary, the trail ascends sharply along a trail that includes steps that make the hike much easier, especially during rainy weather. Horses can be hired in Guadalupe, near La Palma for the six kilometer route along the Rincon River that must be hiked to reach the Los Patos trailhead. However, no horses are allowed inside the park, so they must be left at the boundary. It is a 45 minute hike from the Park boundary to Los Patos Ranger Station. For those planning on hiking to Sirena, park rangers will not permit hikers that arrive after 11:00 a.m. from continuing with their hike, so it is wise to get an early start. Los Patos can also be reached from Sirena Ranger station by way of the 21 kilometer maintained park trail connecting the two ranger stations. Lastly, there is a third trail that connects Los Patos Ranger Station with the Guaymi Indian Reservation village. All of these trails are described in detail on the Trails section of this document.
Los Patos is open year round and offers camping facilities but no dormitory lodging and no hot meals. There are bathroom facilities with showers, and potable water is available for drinking and to refill canteens.
The Park staff stationed at Los Patos includes administrative staff to support guests and check permits and passes as well as law enforcement personnel to control illegal hunting, logging, drug trafficking, poaching, and other proscribed activities.
The ecosystem comprising the Los Patos Ranger station is montane tropical and cloud forest. The area is heavily forested in primary old growth and is teeming with wildlife. A number of trails exist in the area to allow visitors camping in Los Patos to explore the vicinity. In addition to wilderness viewing and hiking, there is a nearby waterfall and streams to swim in. The nearby Guaymi Indian Reservation offers those with additional interest a side excursion to visit the Ngobe nation, where visitors will have the opportunity to purchase hand-made crafts made from forest materials, including woven purses and bags ans well as beaded jewelry and hand-carved forest animals, figurines, and masks. There is a $5 daily use fee that must be paid at the Ngobe village to the headman or to his representative.
All visitors to Los Patos ranger station should have advance reservations to ensure there is camping space available at the ranger station. Upon arrival visitors must produce documentation showing that they have permits to lodge or camp in Sirena or Los Patos and have paid the camping, lodging, meals, and day use fees. For those visitors that arrive without documentation, park rangers will provide admittance or not in accordance with park occupancy and availability. The day use fee is $10 for foreigners, and camping is $4 per person. Because of the long hike and considerable effort required to reach Los Patos in the first place, it is highly recommended that all visitors make arrangements in advance to ensure that there are no unpleasant surprises upon arrival.
La Leona Ranger Station
La Leona Ranger Station is located on the Pacific coastline on the far southern boundary of Corcovado National Park. It is located on the northwest bank of the Quebrada Leona on a beach terrace looking out over the Pacific Ocean. La Leona Ranger Station can be reached by walking along the beach three kilometers beyond the Carate pulperia. Just before reaching the stream, you will pass first Corcovado Lodge, and then La Leona Lodge, two tent camps nestled along the beach that offer wonderful amenities along this primal stretch of savage coastline. The same beach trail connects La Leona Ranger Station with Sirena Ranger station, located 20 kilometers to the northwest in what is also a beach trail with only a very small portion of the trail that deviates from the beach.
La Leona Ranger Station is open year round and offers camping grounds, toilet and shower facilities, as well as a covered area for cooking. There are no dormitory lodging options and no publicly supplied meals. Potable water is available free of charge to refill water bottles.
The small contingent of park officials stationed at La Leona provide administrative support to park visitors and law enforcement. Full time staff normally range from 3-5 park rangers and support staff.
There are no real trails around the La Leona ranger station per se, though it is certainly possible to hike the Leona Creek watershed upland and into the forest in order to get away from the beach environment to explore forest habitat. Also, there is private trail network on the grounds of La Leona Lodge across the creek that is available for exploration for those staying there or if you have lunch or ask nicely.
Because of its proximity to Carate and reasonable accessibility from Puerto Jimenez, it is possible to do single-day exploration of the La Leona region. For those traveling from Puerto Jimenez, I do not recommend this highly as the drive is two hours one way, and the walk to the park entrance is another forty minutes. Since hikers must be back in Carate by 3:00 p.m. to catch the afternoon colectivo, this leaves only two-three hours with which to explore the park, plainly inadequate for the task at hand. For those visitors that wish to explore the La Leona region without spending the night in the dark, I highly recommend staying in Carate 1-2 nights at one of the eco-lodges to provide a full day of hiking without having to worry about transport schedules. Along these lines both the tent lodges provide convenient jumping off points for the park and have the added benefit of ice and alternative energy and beer and spirits and fine dining to wind down from a day of tampering with tapirs in the Madrigal River watershed or messing with macaws or peering at pelicans gliding inches above the rolling breakers of the Pacific Ocean.
All visitors to Corcovado intending to camp at La Leona ranger station or to proceed to Sirena for camping or lodging there should have advance reservations and prepaid permits to ensure availability. Upon arrival at La Leona visitors must produce documentation showing that they have permits and payment vouchers authorizing them to lodge or camp in Sirena or Los Patos. For those visitors that arrive without such documentation, park rangers will provide admittance or not in accordance with park occupancy and availability. Normally, day visitors are able to enter the park without advance documentation, required only to pay the $10 per person use fee (for foreigners). Camping is permitted without advance reservations only if camping space if available.
Sirena Ranger Station
Sirena Ranger Station is the headquarters of Corcovado National Park. It has extensive facilities for the support of academic research, park improvement and protection activities, and for camping, overnight lodging and meals preparation. It is served by both charter air and boat access. It is connected to all the other ranger stations by well maintained trails. There are also a number of wildlife trails that are maintained in the Sirena area that provide a variety of options of day excursions for visitors overnighting at Sirena. It has an extensive support staff and shifting populations of resident and visiting academic researchers. Sirena Ranger Station is located within the Corcovado Basin and boasts an unparalleled abundance of wildlife of all types. Unquestionably, Sirena Ranger Station is the best destination for maximizing wildlife viewing. Below are descriptions of facilities that are hoped to provide prospective visitors with a full appreciation of what they may expect so that the best decisions can be made about whether to include this destination in travel plans and if so what to expect and what to bring to ensure that your stay is comfortable and enjoyable.
Dorm Lodging. Sirena is the only ranger station that offers overnight lodging in dorm style accommodations. Each bunkroom has two bunk beds plus an additional single bed. Each two to three rooms shares a common restroom which includes a shower, sink, and toilet. Groups are berthed together in individual rooms and are not expected to share rooms with other groups unless by advance request. The bunk rooms are spartan, containing only bunk beds and mattresses. Some rooms have mosquito nets for individual beds, but not all do, and there is no way to ensure in advance that you will get one with mosquito netting. However, the rooms are all screened, though the screen size is not small enough to exclude no see-ums, which are only problematic when they swarm at certain times of the month and day. The dorm lodging does not include sheets, so overnight guests should bring sheets to ensure their own comfort and may want to bring a personal mosquito net if concerned about mosquitoes and sand fleas. Since insect repellant is highly recommended for night hikes and some places during the day, visitors may opt to forego the mosquito net and rely exclusively on bug dope. In my overnight stays, I have never found mosquitoes or sand fleas to be a nuisance, and that is without using repellant, but I think that I am not as popular with mosquitoes as more tender and succulent people. The dorm capacity at Sirena Ranger Station is XX individual beds divided among XX rooms. Preference is always given to academic and governmental researchers and to MINAE employees and volunteers during park initiatives over visiting guests, so often dorm lodging is not available. To ensure availability it is always necessary to reserve in advance, and since reservations are not accepted more than 30 days prior to anticipated arrival, it is best to make reservations requests exactly thirty days prior to your expected arrival. Dorm lodging carries a fee of $11 per person per night.
Camping. Camping at Sirena Ranger Station is restricted to a maximum number of fifty campers at any one time. There is a covered platform that is dedicated to campers, and foam pads are provided to soften the floor a bit. There is an expansive lawn in front of the Sirena ranger station facility, and campers are welcome to pitch their tents on the lawn if they prefer this to the covered camping area. Common restroom / shower / food preparation facilities are provided for both the covered camping platform as well as the lawn camping area. For hot meals, priority is given to MINAE staff, visiting researchers, and visitors that are staying in dorm housing. If the meal capacity is not exhausted by these groups at the time reservations are secured for camping, then prepared meals can be reserved in advance. However, the food preparation area beside the tent platform is roomy with many sinks and surfaces and cooking areas for the use of camp stoves and is actually very convenient for those campers prepared to cook their own meals. Camping is $4 per night per person.
Hot Meals. Sirena Ranger Station has a fully equipped kitchen and staff that is responsible for the preparation of three meals per day for the MINAE employees stationed at the park, visiting researchers, and the visiting public. However, the kitchen has a capacity of around 25 persons, so meal service at Sirena is first come, first served. Beyond employees, meal priorities are extended first to researchers, then to dorm lodgers, and finally to campers and day visitors arriving by boat from Drake or that fly in from Jimenez on a charter flight. Meals are typical Costa Rican casados for lunch and dinner and gallo pinto for breakfast. Portions are hearty, and the fare is simple but quite appetizing. Meals are served with cold water and cold fruit drinks made from dried mixes (like Tang, only not meant for astronauts) as well as coffee. Lunch and dinner typically includes: rice, bean, salad, some type of meat, fried bananas, and a fricasee-ed palmito or potato dish or else stir fried mixed vegetables. Breakfast includes gallo pinto with eggs, cheese or ham, two types of fruit, toast and fried sweet bananas. Meal prices are as follows: breakfast: $11; lunch: $15; dinner: $20. Meals must be reserved in advance as meal preparation at Sirena is based upon the number of pre-ordered meals. There is no provision for food sales outside of this structure.
Laundry, Showers, and Water. The Sirena infrastructure includes extensive facilities for hand-washing laundry, and there are a large number of showers. Perhaps at peak occupancy the facilities become congested, but commonly there is plenty of room and sinks and showers for everybody to take care of their laundering and showering requirements without having to stand in line or wait. The water at the facility is all potable, so water bottles can be filled without concern for filtration or supplemental water purification tablets.
Electricity. Sirena Ranger Station has both an array of solar panels as well as a generator. Power is turned on facility wide from 5:30 to around 8:30 in the evening to provide guests with access to lighting in the early evening hours. After lights out, visitors must rely on their own flashlights and lighting facilities for reading or getting ready for bed. No electrical outlets are provided for small appliances or the charging of batteries, so visitors should bring fully charged cameras and other tech gadgets and spare batteries for flashlights.
Communications. Sirena Ranger Station does enjoy cell phone communications with the outside world, thanks to an antenna that provides signal to a portion of Costa Rica that is not covered by existing cell tower coverage. This telephone is for the use of the administrative staff only and is not available to the public. It is available in case of emergencies, and there is case-by-case flexibility to allow communications for guests faced with changes in their circumstances. Plan to be incomunicado while in the park and resist the temptation to request access to the telephone facilities in anything other than an emergency.
Alcohol. Alcohol is not permitted at Sirena Ranger Station or anywhere in Corcovado National Park
Cold Drinks. Formerly, ice cold soft drinks were available for sale at Sirena. That practice has since been phased out, so prepare yourself in advance for this slight deprivation. This fact makes the cold fruit punches and water served at meal times all the more appealing.
Roughing It. Sirena Ranger Station is actually a fully equipped and reasonably comfortable destination. However, it is not a lodge and does not cater to its guests. Visitors must be prepared for the facilities that exist. For those that are accustomed to greater creature comforts, it is very important to ask yourself up front if you want to subject yourself to the challenges that Corcovado hiking and a stay at Sirena may imply. However, for those that realize that Sirena is not a lodge but a spectacular overnight station in the middle of one of the greatest concentrations of wildlife and biodiversity on the planet, then your visit may be accordingly enjoyed in the context of what you are doing. In truth, Sirena has everything needed to be comfortable: shelter, food, clean water, rest room, laundering, bathing, and cooking facilities, as well as staff that are well-versed in local wildlife and conditions and are eager to provide support and information about the park and the vicinity. Finally, since it has both cell communications with the outside world and is served by boat access and a landing strip, it is well-equipped to respond to a medical emergency or simply to accommodate the needs of those that decide after hiking in that they would rather be transported out than to return to civilization on foot.
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