A week on the amazing Osa Peninsula

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[ultimate_heading main_heading=”Puerto Jimenez”][/ultimate_heading]

On Monday, April 30th, after a 2-nights-layover in San José, the capital of Costa Rica, where I finally bought new glasses (I had lost mine in a bus in Mexico 2 months earlier), Rebecka and I took the 6AM bus to Puerto Jimenez. The bus was quite comfortable and made a few stops during the 9 hour ride. Still, we were happy when we finally arrived.

From the bus station, we took a taxi to our hostel, Corcovado Wild hostel, because it was raining like hell and we didn’t feel like being all wet. We had to wait for a half an hour until the owner, Christian, arrived, because he had been on a day-tour to the Corcovado national park, but he made up for it by being super friendly and welcoming.

Christian asked what our plans were and we told him we wanted to visit the Corcovado national park and he immediately destroyed our hopes of going to the park the next day: if you want to go there, you need to pay the entrance fee to the national bank which closes at 4PM and so it was already too late to go the next day… Well, then we would go the day after, no problem. Christian presented us with the different options we had: either take a day tour, then he could be our guide, or, if we had time enough, do a 2 or even 3-day-hike in the park. He strongly recommended to stay over night in the park and that’s what we decided to do. After spending the night, you can either hike back to Puerto Jimenez or take a boat to Drake Bay and from there a ferry to Sierpe and then a bus back to San José. He strongly advised us to take this last option because the way from Drake Bay to Sierpe is supposed to be very beautiful and we were willing to follow his advise.

Christian organizes only day tours and not overnight stays, because he has to take care of his hostel. He tried to find another guide for us, but he couldn’t find anybody and so he told us to go to a tour operator the next day and negociate with them. He told us to be careful and make sure: a) they are not too expensive, shouldn’t be more than 300$US, b) the guide is local and not from San José or somewhere else.

After this advise, Christian took us and 2 girls from Switzerland to the beach where we could marvel at the beautiful bioluminescence in the sand. In addition to that, there was a thunderstorm going on and watching the lightning and thunder from the beach was wonderful!

Puerto Jimenez

The next morning, after breakfast and passing by the only laundry place in town, we went to Osa Wild, a great tour operator in Puerto Jimenez. First, another disappointment: as it was 1st of May and national holiday, it was impossible to book the tour and we would have to wait another day for our tour… Well, never mind… We decided our time would be better spent on the Osa Peninsula than in Puerto Viejo anyway, so we would wait. We would do the 2 days hike and have our luggage send by car to Drake Bay where our tour would end. The price was 302$US p.P. if there was no one else joining us (fortunately, Julieta from Argentina joined us and the tour was only 270$US!).

Since we had not much to do, we decided to take another one of their tours that same afternoon: visiting a local farm. It sounded pretty nice and Ifigenia, the woman working in the office, told us that it was her favourite tour.

After running to the bank to get cash to pay our tour and taking a crêpe for lunch, we took the 1PM local bus to Cañaza. The farm we visited was called “Finca Rancho Raíces” and this was probably the best tour I’ve ever done! German and his family were very welcoming and very friendly people. We learned a lot about the different plants and fruit that grow in this area (banana, pineapple, avocado, cacao, mango, etc.), how they use natural fertilizer to keep their plants and trees in good health, how long the different trees take to grow, produce their first fruit and how long they can live. He told us, for example, that a cacao tree takes 2 years before it can produce it’s first fruit, each fruit takes 7 months to grow and be ready, not all flowers produce fruit because the tree can only carry so much fruit and a cacao tree will produce less and less fruit with time, but can live up to 80 years.

We got to cut and eat a fresh pineapple, banana and coconut (delicious!) and they showed us how to make chocolate, from the fruit to the chocolate bar. We got a chocolate mask and could help make the chocolate. It was awesome and the chocolate was absolutely delicious!

There were many animals on their farm as well, many cute monkeys in the trees, puppies all around and, of course, chickens.

I can only recommend you to go and visit them! They also accept volunteers and hadn’t I been a bit pressed in time, I would have loved to stay with them for a few months …

At the end of the tour, we tried to hitchhike back, but, like German had suggested, we had not yet taken off our chocolate mask and nobody wanted to take us in their car… Fortunately, German had been called into town and, with the guy working on his farm and his niece, he gave us a lift. We talked a little about how welcoming Ticos (people from Costa Rica) are and how much we love this country. They were very happy about this and invited us to take a few beers with them at the bar of German’s brother-in-law. It was an open-air bar and the atmosphere there was great. We had 2 beers, got some free rice with chicken and danced salsa with the owner. He was a very good dancer and I had so much fun! It probably was the best afternoon I had spend during all my trip! 🤗❤️

When we came back, we were a bit tipsy and drunk of happiness and spent the evening eating the huge pineapple we got from the farm and watching “Prince of Bel-Air”.

The next morning, we left the hostel at 6AM and took a collectivo to Matapalo. Matapalo consists of 4 beaches, 2 beaches for swimming and 2 beaches for surfing. Rebecka had only taken her water shoes and didn’t want to go explore the area, so we split up; she stayed at the beach and I went to explore Matapalo. It was quite easy to walk around, there was only 1 way, so impossible to get lost. The 4 different beaches were absolutely beautiful and there was almost nobody else around which is something very rare and made this experience all the better. I also went into the forest, to a very small waterfall. On the way back, I walked on the beach, along the seaside, and enjoyed the fresh breathe and watched birds and surfers. I had a great time there! 🤗 Then I just lay on the beach, swam a bit in the sea and relaxed in the shade. Believe it or not, the water on this Pacific coast was really really warm! Apparently this has to do with the golf stream…

At some point, I joined Rebecka again and we walked along the beach for some more time. I was a bit cranky, because I would have thought that she had explored that part of the beaches on her own instead of just waiting for me to come back. After all that walking, I only wanted to relax… Still, I went with her, but at some point I told her I was not going to continue, she could go alone if she wanted, but I was not going another meter. Especially since the beach here was much less nice than the beach where I had been to earlier that day. In addition to that, when we tried to hitchhike back, we had to wait for more than 1 hour to get a ride, which did not improve my mood.

When we got back to Puerto Jimenez, my mood was getting a bit better, especially after taking a shower. Rebecka and I packed our bags and went back to Osa Wild Tours where we had to leave our luggage. That’s when we met Keller, our guide for the next 2 days. He seemed very nice and quite funny. I asked him if Keller was his first name or family name and he told me that this name is quite common as a first name in Costa Rica. He told us that his parents had wanted to call him Kenneth, another common name in Costa Rica, but that they had messed up at the municipality and had written down the wrong name, Keller. It was only 11 years later that one of his teachers found out, by accident, that his real name was Keller. So now, he’s called Keller, but some of his friends from childhood still call him Kenneth. 😂

We spent the evening preparing for our hike and taking care of the huge sunburn we had gotten during the day at the beach (which explains my bad mood earlier). We watched a few episodes of the Prince of Bel-Air and talked a bit to Christian, but went to bed quite early. In the end, we were very happy we had not taken the day tour to Corcovado national park with Christian, because during the last days, we had seen that he is a very moody person and, most of the time, in a bad mood…

[ultimate_heading main_heading=”Corcovado National Park”]2 days in paradise[/ultimate_heading]

The next morning, our tour started at 5:30. That’s when we met Juliete for the first time. She’s from Buenos Aires in Argentina and a super nice girl.

The first 2 hours, we went by car to Carate. On the way, we stopped several times so Keller and our driver could show us different animals: 1 owl, 2 sloths, 1 caiman, 1 putu (bird that looks like a branch of the tree it’s sitting on), 2 otters. It’s pretty rare to see otters and that wood bird, so we were happy we did.

Our hike started in Carate. First, it was 3,5km to the entrance of the park. There were several other groups starting from there, but we were only 2 groups going to Sirena, the others were only doing day-tours and turning around after a few km.

The 22km hike was pretty exhausting, because it was very hot and humid (30°C, 90% humidity) and because part of the trail was on the beach. The weight of our bags didn’t help either… Still, it was absolutely worth it, because the trail was absolutely beautiful! We saw a few more animals during the hike, like a tapir, but most animals we saw before the park entrance and during the last hour of our trek: Agouti, Bats, Coati, Monkeys and Peccary. We also saw different birds, like the great Curassow, the green kingfisher, Macaws, red-capped Manakin, Piha, Great Tinamou and the pale-billed Woodpecker.

Even if it was an amazing hike, we were very happy when we finally arrived to the Sirena station, because it had been a long and exhausting hike. In some parts, we had had to cross a river or Keller had to cut a way free with his machete in the forest because the tide was too high already and the trail on the beach inaccessible. It had definitely been an adventure!

At the station, we first took a nice cold shower and, at 6PM, we had dinner. The meal was huge and even if I had been starving, I was not able to finish my dish… At 8PM all lights went out in the station, but that was no problem since we all were super tired and went to bed at 7:30PM…

Still, we all slept quite badly, because it was just too hot there and the animals all around – most of all the howler monkeys – were super loud…

Corcovado NP

The next morning, we got up at 4AM and started our night/morning hike at 4:30AM. Usually, you’re not allowed to start before 5AM, but since there was no ranger at the station, we sneaked out a bit earlier to have a better chance at seeing animals. During this 2 hours hike, we saw several frogs, like the dink frog, the masked frog, the savage’s bull frog and the cane toad.

After breakfast and packing our bags, we went on our last hike in Corcovado. During these 3 hours, we stayed close to the Sirena station, but still saw many more animals, like a big American Crocodile, some Jesus-Christ Lizards, more Peccary, some Milli Parrots, some yellow-breast Toucans and, to my big joy, 3 different colibris: the long-billed, the bronze and the stripe-throated hermit! I had absolutely wanted to see some colibris and I was very happy I did. 🤗

In conclusion, this park is the last wild rainforest on the Pacific coast and it’s absolutely beautiful! It’s probably the most beautiful and amazing place I’ve visited in all Central America. I can absolutely recommend you go there and that at least for 2 days, 1 day is not enough to truly enjoy the beauty of this place.

I also can only recommend you go with the Osa Wild agency, because they have only local guides who are great and they pay them well. Keller had told us, that this was not the case for all tour agencies, many of them paying their guides badly and some now trying to employ cheaper guides that come from San José or other places and that have no real knowledge of this place.

I would do this tour every time again and without a doubt with Osa Wild and with Keller! 🤗

In Drake Bay, we stayed at Martina’s place, a very nice hostel owned by a German lady. Rebecka and I had booked a private room and that was just what we needed after such exhausting hiking. After a nice cold shower (there were also hot showers but it was just too hot for that…) and lunch (at 4PM), we relaxed at the hostel, had some noodle soup for dinner and watched Tarzan. Even if Tarzan plays in Africa, somehow it seemed just appropriate after our adventure… 😄

The next morning, we took the 7AM ferry to Sierpe. Like on our way to Drake Bay from Sirena, we had to first walk through the water to get to the boat because there was no jetty. The way was beautiful and we enjoyed the beautiful countryside.

In Sierpe, we took a shuttle to Palma Norte and from there we took a bus to San José where we arrived at 3PM. After checking into our hostel, we went to pick up my new glasses and then decided to change neighborhood. The center of San José is very ugly and not very secure, so we went to barrio escalante, a very nice part of San José with many nice restaurants and bars. Our UBER-driver brought us to what is, in his opinion, the best place in this area. We had just wanted to have a few beers and have dinner there, but after our first beer, we met Rick from the States and Clark from Hong Kong again, 2 guys we had met in Corcovado. There, we had only talked to them a bit, but seeing them again here was very nice and they asked us to join them. We had a great night with them, drinking a lot of delicious artisanal costa rican beer. We changed bars twice and it was already 1AM when we finally went back to our hostel (quite late, considering we had not slept for a few days and had to get the bus at 6AM to Puerto Viejo the next day).

In conclusion, going to the Osa Peninsula had probably been the best thing I’ve done during all my travels in Central America and I don’t regret having sacrificed some days in Panama to be able to go there. I can only recommend you to go there as well! 🤗❤️

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