Corcovado National Park and El Remanso

Trip Start Aug 01, 2007
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Trip End Oct 04, 2007


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Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Tuesday, August 7, 2007

When we left off, we had just arrived to Puerto Jimenez, on the Osa Peninsula, on our way to Corcovado National Park. While we were there, we heard some Hebrew being spoken around us and met an Israeli couple who were also on their way to the park, the next day. That afternoon we took the collectivo to Carate, 2.5 hours to get 42 kilometers on a bumpy road crossing a few creeks on the way. We stayed at the Corcovado Tent Camp Lodge, half an hour walk on the beach from Carate. Walking on the beach with our packs was tough, but little did we know how tough it would get later on. . . The lodge was really nice, we stayed in a tent cabin with a great view of the sea and a big soft bed. It rained almost the whole time we were there, and the storm woke us up in the middle of the night when the lightning was coming down to the sea. That night Ido saw a small bird snake, just walking on the path. The symphony of frogs was awesome, and we saw a few huge cane toads.
Corcovado - Day 1
The next day we set off on our trek, 16 km (10 miles) to the La Sirena ranger station in the park. When walking through the park, itīs very important to pay attention to the tides, because there are a few river crossings and points on the sea which can only be crossed safely at low tide. From the beginning of the walk, we felt like we were immersed in an open air zoo. On the way we saw (in order of appearance) some brown turkey-ish birds with mohawks (cassaros); lizards everywhere, including the Jesus lizard that ran across the water; an anteater that climbed up a tree when it saw us; coatis everywhere - they look like pointy raccons crossed with cats; a very red small deer with a funny looking face; spider monkeys in the trees; white faced capuchin monkeys that threw stuff at us; scarlet macaws flying around in pairs and squawking at each other like old married couples; a giant blue morpho butterfly; all kinds of cool birds we didnīt recognize; and a green and black poison dart frog. When we were walking on the beach we also saw many many smal hermit crabs and other little crabs, all of which ran away panicked when we walked by, as if there were shells magically coming to life at our feet . . there may have been more animals but itīs hard to keep track. On the way we also went to an amazing waterfall with a pool that was a perfect place to rest and cool off and get a natural massage, which felt great on our backs after carrying the packs.
Later on, still on the trail, we met up with the Israeli couple, Natanel and Limor, and their friend Marie Anne from France. The five of us hiked the last part together, and we had a funny moment when we got to the last river crossing. The tide was rising, and we had been warned to be really careful because there are bull sharks that swim up the river. As we started crossing, Phoenix looked over and saw a bunch of small fins sticking out of the river, coming our way. We hastily crossed the river, humming the jaws theme all along, only to see from the other side that they were just big fish, not sharks. Reaching La Sirena, we were surprised to see a huge ranger station with much nicer accomodations than we were expecting. We got our own room, but with only one small bed, because the station was packed with other visitors.
Corcovado - Day 2
We got up early and went for a short walk with our friends to see what kind of wildlife we could see. Slogging through the mud, we reached a stream that we didnīt feel like crossing, and stopped to rest over there. Then we heard some bird noises and Ido said it sounds just like Lulu, an amazon parrot he used to have. We looked around and saw a cute green parrot in a tree above us (later we found out that it was indeed an amazon). Most of that day we rested from our trek and also switched to a room with two beds since the first one was a little too small. While Phoenix went back to the room to rest, Ido sat on the deck and saw several toucans in the trees. Later on we went for another walk down to the Rio Sirena, where we saw a cute little lizard get snapped up really quickly by a bigger one. We saw lots of peccary tracks, but no peccaries. We also saw some really cute titi (squirrel monkeys which are endemic to Costa Rica and Panama and extremely endangered). On the way back we kind of lost the trail, along with a couple from Spain. Eventually we found our way back to the station. At the station, we saw clothes hanging everywhere around the camping area and realized that a group of English teenagers had arrived.
Corcovado - Day 3
Our goal in the morning was to see some peccaries so we woke up at 4 AM and set out on the trail heading towards the river. Walking through the jungle in pitch darkness was a little bit scary, especially with the weird sounds of the howler monkeys all around us. They sound like a combination of a lion roaring and a dog barking. Just as it was starting to get light, we came upon a big group of peccaries right on the trail. They are dangerous animals which will charge if they feel threatened, so we immediately jumped up some trees so we could watch them safely. They stayed for a long time, browsing the plants and occasionally snapping their teeth at us, making a loud clicking noise. It was kind of scary, especially when one of the big ones kept approaching us and making threatening noises. When we had had enough, we jumped down from the trees and hurried down the trail, back the way we had come, before they could realize that we were there. Mission accomplished!
After breakfast and a little rest we decided to go check out the Rio Sirena by boat. We rented a kayak and paddled up the river. Ido was not too impressed with Phoenixs paddling skills, so he took over using two short paddles as one big one. When we got tired of fighting the current upstream, we turned around to float back down the river. Almost immediately after we turned around, we saw a bull shark in the water right next to us. The water was less than two feet deep so we could see it really well. It was only about 3 feet long but still kind of scary and definitely weird to see a shark in a freshwater river. As we floated on, we heard a noise on the bank and we saw a big tapir heading to the water. We watched him as we drifted by and took as many pictures as we could. We paddled upstream a little to see him more, and he got into the river, swam across, and got out on the other side. It was amazing to see such a rare creature. He had a really cute nose like a short elephant trunk.
In the afternoon we did another hike that heading up the hills and crossed the Rio Claro. There was a really cute pair of spider monkeys eating from a palm tree, one had a little baby monkey on her back. In general we saw lots of baby monkeys wherever we went, it must be the season. At the Rio Claro, there was an amazing spot with clear blue water running quickly over the rocks. We were hot and sweaty (and stinky) from our hike and Ido really wanted to go in, but we werenīt sure if the sharks would be up that far. Eventually we decided to jump in (skinny dipping of course) and had a nice cool dip in the river.
During our time at La Sirena, we also played 3 games of cribbage. Score: Ido 2, Phoenix 1.
Corcovado - Day four
Got up even earlier (3:45) in order to start our hike back to Carate before high tide at 8 AM. The first part of the hike was great, we walked quickly and just barely kept ahead of the group of English kids, who were actually a school group doing some kind of character building adventure trip with their teachers. We got to the first point just in time to miss the low tide, so we had to wait around for a few hours until the tide was low enough to cross the rocks. We made a nice breakfast and had a good rest. As a bonus, while we were sitting looking at the ocean, Phoenix saw something big in the water that was there one second and gone the next. Hoping she wasnīt going crazy, we waited to see if it would show up again. A few minutes later, we saw it spout, and realized we were looking at a whale out at sea (we checked in the books later and we think it was a blue whale, the biggest creature on this planet). It was Idoīs first whale sighting.
We continued until the natural jacuzzi waterfall, stopping again for a relaxing shower. As soon as we left the clouds which had been threatening started pouring rain, which continued for hours all the way back to the park entrance. Neither of us had ever hiked in such a downpour before. At first it was fun, but after a while of walking in soaking wet shoes and clothes, it was more like torture. A small distraction was seeing a really cute red squirrel on the tree, that was doing poses waiting for us to take a picture of it, but we were just too tired and it was too wet to get out the cameras (sorry, squirrel). We dragged ourselves the last few kilometers to Carate, where we had the luck of arriving just when a bunch of jeep taxis showed up so we didnīt have to wait for the collectivo (covered truck) at 4 PM.
That afternoon we arrived to El Remanso, a luxury lodge in the rainforest overlooking the Pacific. Our deluxe suite was just what we needed after the hard day. Hot shower, huge bed with soft sheets, delicious food, great view. . . now we were really on our honeymoon!
The next day we slept in until 7 and took it easy, only doing a small hike to another waterfall. After a delicious lunch we came down to the internet, where we are now. . . But it wonīt last long because theyīre working on the micro-hydro electric plant that provides the electricity for this place. So weīll say bye for now. . .
Update - now from Puerto Jimenez. We were lucky and caught a ride with some nice American guys who run a study abroad program and were scoping out sites for their project. The way was nice, we stopped often to look at birds along the road and a spectacular sunset. Here in PJ we have enjoyed the innovation of cuba libre in a can, and plantain chips with cinnamon.
Our next stop is to spend the night in Puerto Jimenez and take a flight to Quepos in the morning, where weīll visit Manuel Antonio National Park, another rainforest, but this time on a white sand beach rather than a black one.
Check out the pics in the photo album !!

Love

Ido and Phoenix
 
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