Costa Rica Day 4&5- Corcovado National Park

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At 715 am we had to walk down to the bottom of the hill in Bahia Drake to catch our ferry to Corcovado National Park.

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Most people that came here did day tours, which includes an hour and a half transportation to Sirena station at 715am, guided hiking until about 1, then a lunch before the boat leaves the island at 145pm. It also includes the $10 daily park entrance fee.

We had inquired about skipping the guide and only purchasing the boat ride there and back. This was $50, so we decided it was worth paying the few extra bucks for a guide with lunch. Our plan was to stay the night since we already had our camping reservations and we would catch a ride back with a boat the following day at 1:45. We figured it would be good to have a guide to show us the ropes bit also would be nice to be able to roam on our own.

The boat dropped us off at the island where we had a “wet” landing.

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We did a couple hikes very slowly and quietly. Apparently the morning around 8 is the best time to go as the animals are most active and prevalent. Later in the day it becomes too hot so they rest.

We saw a crocodile on the bank

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But when we got closer we scared him away.

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We saw an animal called a Taper which I guess aren’t normally seen there but the guide said the past months there have been a lot of them.

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We saw lots of different types of monkeys including the howler monkey which makes a crazy loud monster like noise in the jungle.

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We saw some different birds and spiders.

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We saw ant eaters and wild pigs but I didn’t have my camera with me the first day.

At the end of the day after we ate, my brother and I walked the 20 minute hike back to Sirena station.

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We had accidentally gotten a camping pass for the park instead of the dorm room accommodations that are also available. We were told that there would be mattresses out for grabs as well as drinking water.

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However when we got there we were told they don’t supply mattresses and that the only ones that were there were ones people had left in the past. We managed to scrap up a couple thin grimy ass foam pieces and were lucky enough to have brought our own sheets.

Although told there was clean drinking water, we were told it wasn’t 100% safe so we should filter it. Luckily we brought water purification tablets although we were also told there was bottled water for sale.

The next morning we thought we would wake up super early to be the first ones to the best locations so the animals wouldn’t be scared away by the other groups. Unfortunately, everyone else had the exact same plans.

We hiked along the beach

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And even climbed a tree to get some coconuts

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We saw more of the same animals we had seen the day before (can you see the gecko?)

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As well as Taper tracks

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We went swimming in Rio Claro, the only place you are allowed to swim because of the danger off crocodiles.

Overall it was a pretty cool experience in Sirena national park. It was very beautiful. However, for me, I didn’t like all the people there and the tour groups, we couldn’t escape them. The animals seemed like they were always in the same places so the guides knew exactly where to look, like a zoo. So in that aspect we were a little disappointed. The peninsula itself was beautiful.

Costa Rica Day 2- Paso Canoas to Puerto Jimenez

In the morning we continued our trip to our destination of Golfito in the Osa peninsula.

We went to a nearby ATM to take out some local Costa Rican currency, Colones. The going rate was 500 Colones to 1 US dollar.

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The bus station was right outside our hotel. We were to catch a bus to Golfito which was the costal town then catch a ferry across the lake to Puerto Jimenez.

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The bus left Paso Canoas at 10:30 in the morning and ran us 2400 Colones each.
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The bus ride was an uneventful hour and a half or so. When we first got on the bus, we gave the driver 10000 Colones and he didn’t give us change. When we would go up to the front to ask him, he kept shooing us away. We became increasingly annoyed when it started to seem more and more like he was trying to screw us. We got a local to help us out and showed him and finally he gave in and coughed up our change.

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I knew Golfito was on the coast so we had our eyes open for the boat launch when we saw water.

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We double checked with the driver that this is where we would catch our ferry to Puerto Jimenez and he confirmed.

We thought we would be catching a small water taxi like those on the right but we were directed to walk out on a dock just to the left where there were others waiting in the shade.

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It was beautiful here.

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We were confused about the boat schedule until we realized we had changed time zones by an hour.

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We were on the 2pm ferry and had some Duros a lady was selling (sweet frozen fruit drink)

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The ferry ride was about 45 minutes and we arrived in Pto Jimenez, equally beautiful.
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Our mission here was to go to the ranger station, as our guide book said if we wanted to stay in Corcovado National Park we had to make reservations here ahead of time.

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It was an inconspicuous building so at first we walked passed it.

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But sure enough this was the place.

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The woman working here talked little English and was very unhelpful. We wanted to go to Corcovado park but she wasn’t offering much information.

The day we wanted to stay in the park was full so we reserved the following day that was open. She gave us a paper and sent us to the bank a 5 minute walk away in the center of town to pay for the reservation. It closed at 3 so we didn’t have much time to get there.

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The bank was interesting in that it had super high security; finger print scan to open door, that was similar to an airport scanner. After being scanned there was an armed guard who asked us to remove our hats. Intense.

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Anyway, we paid up ($10 per day park fee, then $10 to stay over night) and headed back to the ranger station. 

There were 3 options for us to get to Sirena ranger station from where we were in PTO Jimenez.

We could either fly there ($80), hike 20kms, or take busses. We didn’t have time to hike both ways and we didn’t want to have to hike with our gear so we ruled that out. Flying was expensive; we decided to take the bus. More on this later.

Now we had a plan, we had to find a place to sleep.

We asked around and found a hostel called Cabinas el Perezoso.

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The guy had rooms for $8 per night which we couldn’t beat so we took it.

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The hostel was very basic but the guy was super nice and accommodating and there were nice people there. At dinner time he took down coconuts for us.

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It had been a long ass day and we had to get up early so called it a night.

Costa Rica Day 3- Puerto Jimenez to Bahia Drake

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Our mission was to get to Bahia Drake this day, so we could take a ferry to the ranger station Sirena in Corcovado National Park the next morning.

The option we chose was to take a bus from Puerto Jimenez to Bahia Drake.

The information we were given regarding bus times was different from every person we asked. It seemed like no one had any idea what was going on outside of their little box.

The information that did agree was that we had to catch a bus to La Palma, then connect to a bus to Bahia Drake. Given that we were on a strict time frame in order to get this all done before we had to be in San Jose, there wasn’t room for error and there was only one bus in the morning to La Palma. We wanted to be there early to make plans for Corcovado the following day.

Omar, the guy that ran our hostel, told us the bus to La Palma came at 9am. So we waited outside the bus station in town only to find out the bus there didn’t leave until 1030. Then we saw a bus schedule stating this.

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The bus arrived; it was a school bus as Omar told us so we knew what to look for. It was 1 mil to get to La Palma.

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The first bus ride was short; only about half an hour on paved roads.

We got off the bus in La Palma. Locals told us where the bus to Bahia Drake would be and that it would be there at 1130. We had roughly an hour wait.

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When the bus did come, we would have just let it go without us. We saw the shuttle van, but it said school bus on it so we assumed it was to move kids around. We were expecting a bus, too, not a van. This bus cost us 2 mil.

This ride was on dirt roads through rivers it was a beautiful ride.

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On the bus we met a guy from Texas that was living down here for two years for the Peace Core. Sounded like a very interesting experience, he was in a small community helping them create tourism to create better lives for the people. He said that as of now, most of them worked in the fields for $15 a day getting heart of palm in the fields.

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They couldn’t afford to do anything else but eat and have the occasional beer let alone catch a bus out of their town or take English classes to get tourism jobs.

Bahia Drake was no disappointment relative to the rest of Osa. It was high in the hills overlooking a beautiful ocean. Somehow I forgot to take pictures of this.

We stayed at a hostel called Martina’s place.  It was very nice for a hostel and we got a private room for $20.

As soon as we got there, an iguana ran in under a dresser.

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We spent the next hour plus trying to get it out.

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It got out and ran into our room under the bed. We thought our best bet was to wait it out so we created a path so it had to go straight out the front door and couldn’t go anywhere else.

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After a while he was still there so some kid managed to chase him out with a broom.

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Vwalla.. Iguana back at home 🙂

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Made for an interesting afternoon.

We made arrangements to get picked up at 7 in the morning for our ferry to Sirena station in Corcovado National Park.

Costa Rica Day 1- Frontera Paso Canoas Border Crossing Panama

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It was ridiculously hot on my top bunk. The clothes washing area was in the next room over and the heat from the dryers made our room an oven. This, combined with the fact that I had zero head room, made for an awful night’s sleep. I woke up both nights because I was so hot, only to sit up to slam my head on the ceiling.

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The second night, my head was right underneath that blue box, so when I barely stirred in my sleep I nailed my head on the corner of the strategically placed blue box. Bleeding. Miserable way to wake up.

When my brother woke me up the next morning at 8:30am I wasn’t thrilled. He suggested we leave and head over to the Osa Peninsula in the south west tip of Costa Rica.

I was having a great time in Bocas del Toro and we had just gotten there, so although Corcado National Park sounded amazing, I didn’t think it was realistic to try to go here when we had to be at the airport on the 24th. My brother insisted, so we packed up and left for a long day of traveling.

We backtracked from here, catching the boat from Bocas back to Admirante
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From Admirante we caught the shuttle back to Boquette. From Boquette, we caught  bus back to David. From David, we caught a bus to the border which is Paso Canoas, but we found out it is referred to as Frontera Paso Canoas.

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From David to Frontera Canoas wasn’t a bad ride, only about an hour and a half. The border was the last stop where the driver told us to get out and walk across. Our plan was to try to make it to Golfito which was the hub to take the ferry over to the Osa Peninsula and spend the night there.

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We were a little cautious as border crossing are generally a bit sketchy areas and we weren’t exactly what we were supposed to do to cross.

First we went in the customs line to exit Panama.

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This process was a little slow so we waited in line for about a half an hour.

After this was weird- we realized there was no one stopping us from just continuing on, not even stopping to exit Panama let alone entering Costa Rica. We were crossing the border when I said to my brother we must need to enter Costa Rica somewhere, otherwise I am sure we would have trouble at customs in the airport.

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Essentially it was just a big open road with restaurants, hotels, etc in what appeared to be a no-mans land. We asked around and a couple minutes up in this area we saw the customs for Costa Rica.
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There was no line at this little building. Did people forget to stop here to get their visas?

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The customs guy just asked us what our profession was, how long we were staying, and had us fill out a customs form. I was told you needed proof that you were exiting the country or would get a $100 fine so we were prepared for this but never asked.

The bus station was also located in this no-man’s land between the exit to Panama and the entry to Costa Rica but it was closed.
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We went next door to a restaurant and talked to a taxi driver. We were told it would be 40 dollars to go to Golfito. There was a hotel in the same place which was $50 for a room and we would be able to catch the bus the next morning for much cheaper, so we took this option. It had been a long day and the hotel seemed legit. We were happy to have a nice air conditioned private room for a change.

Panama Day 16- Bluff, Paki, & Chikita Beach, Aqua Lounge Bar

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We tried to sleep in but our sleep schedule was all messed up from our hike in Boquette and staying up late the night before.

My brother woke me up around 10am to catch what we thought was a tour that would take us to 3 different beaches on 3 different islands. We rushed to get ready and caught the bus.

Not long into the tour did we realize we were not leaving the island but this was going to be a bus tour to 3 beaches on the island we were already on. This was also a booze-bus that would soon get very messy.

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First we went to Bluff’s Beach which was about a 45 minute trek. Others were smart and came prepared with beer.

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It was a beautiful beach with big surf.
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At each bar we were given a free shot.

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They had a little competition on who could build the best sand castle.

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We lost.
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Afterwards we hung out on the beach.
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Back on the bus, we headed over to Paki Point. This was my favorite beach.
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There were relining bed-chairs and bean bag chairs at the bar.
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This bar was was within bike riding distance, and we saw a couple people we had met at a bar the night before here at Paki Point. I wish we had ridden bikes, but I didn’t know we would be staying on the same island.. Can’t ride a bike across water!

We stayed her a couple hours then moved on to Chikita Beach. This was a pretty local beach, where were were served our included lunch.
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After this, we were all pretty tired and at 5pm they brought us back to our hostel.
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It was over all pretty fun but I just wasn’t feeling it most of the day since we were exhausted from the night before. We went back to the hostel and napped. We had to head out again that night since it was a big night at the Aqua Bar which we didn’t want to miss. This was a bar we were told had swings into the water and was only happening on Wednesday and Saturday nights.

To get there, we had to head to Isla Carenero which was just a 5 minute ($1) water taxi across from Bocas.

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This was the coolest bar I have been to. We were there fairly early (around 10:30pm) so it wasn’t too crowded yet.
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There were little lagoons with boardwalks around them. There was great music and a great sound system. You could see the main island from the deck.
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We saw the swings, and were one of the first ones to go on them.
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As the night came on, it became obvious why we don’t have these in the states. Drunk people and bar swings do not mix. We watched one kid fly off the swing backwards and fall on the deck. Also, there were no lines marked on the deck or anything like that so when the bar got crowded people would swing back on the swings and hit the people behind them. Let alone people swimming in the water below while people were jumping off. But it was a ton of fun- we went on them all night.. you could swing high enough so that you could dive in after you peaked.

There was also a trampoline there- closed off with boards over it.. I am guessing for obvious reasons.

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We headed back around 2 or 3 am. The ferry stopped in the middle of the water since I guess someone hadn’t paid their fare so we were all held hostage.

Panama day 15- Boquette Hot Springs

We were told one of the best tours the hostel Mamallena had was a hot springs tour.

The cost was $25 per person. We got in a shuttle that brought us first to a popular local spot for swimming.

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It was a long gorge with deep clean water. Really nice.

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After a couple hours, we headed out to the hot springs.
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These were amazing. We had to walk about 15 minutes down a  path
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The hot springs were actually on a farm’s property. The tour operator paid $2 on each of our behalves. They guy on the farm had a pet monkey.
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There were three hot springs at the farm.. two were within the farm itself.. and one was right in the river. I don’t think anyone bothered going to the ones in the farm since the river hot spring was nice as you could switch between them.
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We brought some wine here, it was incredibly relaxing. Time seemed to stop.
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After a few hours here, the guide told us it was time to leave before it got dark 😦 We all reluctantly walked back.

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