Wednesday, July 2, 2014


June 28, 2014

Catching the 4:45 AM bus out of Dominical gave, “getting up early,” a new meaning.  I had been unable to find anyone to pay at the Piramys Beachfront Hostel the day before, so I put my money and my key in an envelope and tossed it through the window of the reception area.  I hoped they didn’t think I was trying to skip out without paying, but they would have had no way to track me if I had because no one ever took my name when I arrived.  It was definitely the most laid back place I had ever stayed.  I tiptoed out of the hostel at 4:30 AM and dragged my bag up the road to the bus stop.  The bus had parked overnight on the dirt road through the middle of Dominical.  It was a little bit late getting started and I was relieved when it finally got moving.  The bus went all the way through to Neilly and I figured I would eventually be taking it the rest of the way after my detour to Corcovado.

Water Taxi Dock in Sierpe
We left Dominical and followed the coast to Uvita.  We drove past palm groves and rice paddies.  We made a circuit through Ciudad Cortez and finally stopped in Palmar Norte, were I got off about 7:00.  The first taxi driver who approached me wanted $20 to take me to Sierpe.  I told him I would wait for the bus at 8:00.  The next taxi driver only wanted $5, so I caved in and let him drive me.  The roads to Sierpe weren’t bad, but you had to know where you were going because Sierpe was way out in the country.  All the boats that take people to Bahia Drake and the Osa Peninsula leave from Sierpe.  At this time of year, they leave at 11:30.  I got to Sierpe about 7:30, so I had plenty of time to wait.  There was a restaurant by the river’s edge and I had coffee and breakfast and hung out, reading and using the WiFi until the boats arrived.

The boat ride from Sierpe to the Corcovado Tent Camp turned out to be much more interesting than expected.  We saw a crocodile almost immediately.  A family from Toronto with three children were sharing my boat and the kids had a blast looking for crocodiles as we made our way down the Sierpe River through a tangle of islands, waterways, and mangroves.  Our boat was a launch with a panga hull and a 250 hp motor on the back.  We were hauling, but the ride still took an hour.  Eventually, we reached the mouth of the river at Bahia Drake and the mangroves gave way to rocky shore interspersed with pretty little beaches.  We dropped a couple of people off at lodges on the river and then headed over the bar and out into the ocean.  The waves going over the bar were large and we got air a couple of times.  It was an “E” ticket ride for sure.  We crossed Bahia Drake and landed at the town to let off a large group of passengers.  Bahia Drake looked like a nice anchorage and I saw a few cruising boats on hooks there.  There was a town for provisions and a good beach to land a dinghy.  The scenery wasn’t too shabby, either.
My Tent at Corcovado Adventures Tent Camp

Observation Platform
Beach Near the Tent Camp
                                                                                                                            We continued past the town and out around a point before landing at the Cordovado Adventures Tent Camp.  The tents were pitched on platforms and had big oilcloth rain flies over them.  There was a large pavilion housing the dining hall with showers and bathrooms up the hill behind that.  Behind the bathrooms, a path led up a steep hill and then across a hanging bridge to a platform anchored to a tree, 70 feet above the ground.  The platform had a lovely view of the creek and surrounding trees and gave one an opportunity to observe the wildlife in the canopy. The camp was fairly empty, so I got a tent right on the beach with a nice view.  I saw a scarlet macaw almost immediately.  Lunch was served shortly after we arrived and then I went for a walk along the coast to the Rio Claro.  I saw a troop of capuchin monkeys before I even got out of the camp.  
Troop of Capuchin Monkeys Playing

Capuchin Monkey
Further along the path, I saw spider monkeys.  The spider monkeys are the rarest type of monkey.  All four kinds of monkey found in Costa Rica (squirrel, capuchin, spider and howler) are found in Corcovado.  At high tide, the path was sometimes under water, so it took some time to determine where I was going.  I trudged across lots of pretty little beaches, dashing across creeks when the waves receded.  I saw several more scarlet macaws and a troop of capuchin monkeys who were having a wonderful time playing on a water pipe that was strung across a small valley.  They were chasing each other and wrestling, swinging from vines and then running along the pipe.  I watched them for a long time, but couldn’t get a decent picture because they were in constant motion.  I got to the Rio Claro just after 4:00.  At hide tide, I would have had to swim across, so I elected to turn around and head back before it got dark.  Coming back, the pathway was just seething with tiny hermit crabs wearing multi-hued shells.  It was impossible to walk without crushing some of them, but I did my best to avoid them.  By the time I got back, I was exhausted.  I took a nap until dinner, lying in a hammock watching the bats come out at dusk until I fell asleep.  Thankfully, there were no mosquitoes.
Hermit Crabs
 Dinner was served family style and it was nice to talk to the other guests.  The owner, his friend and the family from Toronto had spent the afternoon fishing, so we had fresh sashimi, ceviche and grilled fish for dinner.  I had plenty to eat even though I passed on eating the rice, corn salad and pasta salad.  I didn’t quite have enough willpower to pass on the homemade bread, however.  It was moist and delicious.  By 8:00, everyone was tired and ready to head for bed.  We had to get up early the next day to go to Corcovado National Park.

June 29, 2014

Breakfast was at 5:30 and we waded out to the boat at 6:30 for the hour long boat ride from the camp to,, 866-498-0824 from the US, 506-8386-2296 from Costa Rica, VHF Channel 11) and either meet them off the shore of the camp or have the tour pick you up in the fine anchorage at Bahia Drake.  Tour boats originate from there, anyway.  The owner of the camp is an American who has lived in Costa Rica for decades.  His name is Larry and he was very receptive to the idea of working with cruisers.  He also offered to arrange the delivery of provisions from Sierpe, since he frequently has things delivered for the camp.  Celso and Antonio, who run the camp when Larry isn’t around, are also very helpful.  There are other lodges in Bahia Drake who cater to yachties, but they charge higher prices and could not possibly be more helpful.  The tours would be the same, in any case.
Wading Ashore at Corcovado National Park
Corcovado National Park.  The waves were pretty large, so we had a wild ride.  The water was clear and blue and we stopped twice to observe two different kinds of dolphins that we encountered along the way.  Our boatman backed his panga in to shore to let us off and then beached the boat on the flat, smooth rocks of the shore as the tide went out.  Cruisers could probably anchor off of Corcovado National Park and come ashore in a dinghy, but getting back to the boat through the surf would be hazardous.  It would be much better to arrange a tour through Corcovado Adventures Tent Camp.

Our guide’s name was Roy.  After donning our hiking shoes, we walked along the beach until we reached the Rio Claro.  I counted at least three Rio Claros in that part of the world, so it could be confusing.  On the way, we saw lots of different kinds of birds and a coati. A crocodile slipped into the river just as we arrived, so we didn’t really get to see much of him, but there were a pair of tiger herons courting and making a huge racket.  We made a U-turn at the river and walked back through the forest.  We saw lots of spider monkeys and squirrel monkeys and a purple throated mountain gem (hummingbird) sitting on her nest.  Kites followed the troops of monkeys, scooping us the insects the monkeys disturbed as they foraged through the trees.  

Tiger Herons Courting
Spider Monkey with Baby
Purple Throated Mountain Gem
Roy was looking for a tapir to show us.  When we returned to where the boat was beached, the captain mentioned that he had seen one on the beach a half an hour before.  Roy and I went off following the tapir tracks through the sand, while the family with kids trailed behind, distracted by the ocean and a profusion of hermit crabs.  At times, the whole beach seemed to be moving.  We followed the tapir tracks and
eventually came upon him sleeping in the shade.  Tapirs are the largest wild land mammals in Central America.  He did not seem to be took terribly bothered by us as we crept close and took pictures of him.
Sirena Station
After seeing our tapir, we headed in the opposite direction and walked through the forest to the Sirena Station.  The Sirena station is located at the end of a grassy airstrip near the Rio Sirena .  It was a sprawling affair, with a number of decks and buildings connected by raised walkways.  It was possible to pitch a tent on the decks and camp there.  The park is 43 kilometers across.  Most people who hike across spend two nights camping along the way.  We saw a small caiman in a drainage ditch across the runway.  Monkeys
Black Iguana Enjoying the Beach
were swinging in the trees at the edge of the clearing as we sat on the deck and ate our lunches.  We kept hearing howler monkeys, but never did see them.  We didn’t see any peccaries, either, although we did see their tracks.  Roy nearly stepped on a seven foot tropical bird eating snake that I fortunately saw and frantically pointed out.  I wasn’t familiar with that type of snake and only knew that there were lots of poisonous ones around.  Fortunately, he wasn’t dangerous and Roy didn’t quite step on him.  Shortly thereafter, we came across another tapir escaping the heat of the day by lying in a wallow of cool mud.  We walked back to the boat along a beautiful beach.  The sun came out and the water turned a gorgeous turquoise as we sped back to the camp.  We got back just in time to watch the World Cup soccer match between Costa Rica and Greece.

Larry, the owner of the camp, had a couple of his buddies visiting from the city.  Once the family headed off to the beach, I was the only remaining guest.  Larry invited me to watch the game with them at his place, since he had the only television.  Costa Rica had never before made it to the second round at the World Cup and everyone was ecstatic.  It was really fun to watch with them.  The game was a real nailbiter, too.  Costa Rica scored the first goal and it looked like they were going to win until Greece got a goal and tied them in the last few minutes.  Since the second round of games was not a series like the first round, there had to be a winner.  They were forced to play two more 15 minute periods.  No one managed to score a goal during that time.  Greece really should have won.  They took shot after shot, while the Costa Rican team did very little, but the Costa Rican goalie, Navas, was so wonderful that he blocked every shot.  After another half an hour, the game was still tied.  Then each team got five penalty kicks.  Costa Rica made all five of theirs, but Navas managed to block one of the Greek shots.  Costa Rica won to advance to the quarter finals.  Everyone went nuts.  I was sorry that I wouldn’t be in Costa Rica to watch the next game.

No comments:

Post a Comment