Another one under the belt!  My third annual Corcovado Marathon hike; 30 miles, one day  through Corcovado National Park.  Every hike is a different adventure.  The first was incredibly animal filled, dry trails and hot.   The second was incredibly rainy, torrential for at least half the time, and was a test in endurance, tantamount to navy seal training. It wasn’t even the rainy season.

For this third hike, we chose the rainy season.  People looked at as if we were crazy.  And we opened it up to our co-workers (and anyone else wanting a free ticket to adventure.)  11 intrepid Iguana Lodge workers took the challenge.  Even though all had grown up on the Osa Peninsula, none had ever hiked the park, let alone in one day.  The challenge was on.

Unlike our previous hikes this one had been planned to actually work with the tides.  There is part of the hike that is tide dependent.  If you miss the right tide you can wait up to 5 hours until you can pass.

We crossed our fingers that there would not be much rain.

At 4 in the morning, Alfredo, the taxi driver, picked us up at the lodge.  As we headed to the park we picked up groups of workers along the way.  The truck was full of chatter as every one was excited to start the hike.  While the there were stars out (unusual for this season) I couldn’t help but notice lightening in the direction we were heading.  This might be a long day.

corcovado national park hike

Even the hike to the Park Entrance is beautiful with the fog hanging in the trees highlighted by the rising sun.

Our truck finally turns and starts the climb up to the park entrance.  This is our first real challenge because depending on the river it can take 20 minutes in a dry truck or and hour or two by foot, slugging through a swollen river, crossing it at least 30 times.  Things are looking good as the truck successfully starts crossing the river, once, twice, three … until finally at about the 7th crossing the truck can’t cross.

iguana lodge hiking

The beginning of our hike. Just beautiful.

So now our hikes begin.

Sidnar our naturalist and guide holds a meeting.  It is 5:15 and he wants to get to the Los Patos ranger station by 6:00, to Sirena Ranger Station by 11:30 and to Carate by 5:00.  This is a very ambitious time table and I am wondering if we can really make this pace.

hiking trails costa rica

One of our 25 or so river crossing just to get to the park entrance at Los Patos.

Off we go as we cross the river for the first of what seems countless times.  Everyone is in good spirits and the pace is fairly brisk.  Light is finally coming up and the trees are emerging out of a beautiful fog.  The sky is bright blue.  I am trailing the pack.  We arrive at the Los Patos at 6:15 and sign into the park.

Someone ask the guard the quickest he has ever walked from Los Patos to Sirena.  2 hours and 45 minutes.  I think he ran it.

A little snack and bathroom break and off we go to Sirena.

We all know that the next 2 to 3 hours will be the most physically challenging part of the hike.  There a series of ups and downs and at this time of year the trail is going to be slick and slippery.  We are not disappointed.  The younger people move along like mountain sheep completely oblivious of  how slippery the trail is.  In some places the mud is deep as well.  Fortunately the weather is perfect and everyone is in great spirits.  We see occasional troops of monkeys, hear lots of birds but really don’t come across much else.

It is becoming clear that our time table is not going to happen.  You can only move through mud so fast.  Even when the trail flattens out, it is slippery and mud ridden.  We are actually making really good time but there is no way we are going to make Carate by 5:00.

The group is spreading out as well.  Fortunately there is only one trail and for the people behind a very clear foot prints to follow.  There are four of us at the end and we are having a great time.  Taking photos. Checking out the unusual flora

Beautiful Pinuella flower

and seeing lots of fresh animal prints, one of a huge tapir that was between our group and those of a herd of  peccaries that had crossed the trail. You can actually smell them but we don’t see them. We saw lots of Curacaos (a resplendent turkey).

We occasionally catch up with the rest of the group as they wait for us but as soon as we start off again, the front part of the group disappears.  Finally we find our guide Sidnar waiting by himself at a river to tell us that Sirena Station is about 45 minutes away and just go straight.  He then runs ahead to the rest of the group and leaves us at our pace.

sirena ranger station

What a great view, coming out of the jungle to Sirena Ranger Station our halfway point

It is 1 pm by the time we get to Sirena Station.  The front part of the group is relaxed and well rested.  We take our shoes off, fill our water bottles and eat some lunch.  Sidnar our guide wants to get going in hopes that we can get to Carate by 6.  One of group has decided to fly out from here because he is having problems with his feet.

iguana lodge hiking trips

Taking a break at Sirena Ranger Station. A little lunch and then on to the second half of our adventure

As Blad and I are putting our shoes on the group leaves.  Fortunately our spouses wait for us at the turn off for Carate.  The trail is great.  It is hard pack sand with little mud.  The weather has been incredible, not a drop of rain.  We can actually move quickly and the four of us try to catch up to the group.

45 minutes of fast moving on the trail we arrive at a river.  I call up to Blad, who is ahead of me, that he missed the turn to the river (it is not obvious).  We emerge on the river bank and see the rest of the group cooling off in the water, waiting for us.  As we approach, Sidnar ask where three of the women in our group are.  We had never seen them once we left Sirena.  It becomes clear that girls had missed the turn off and followed the main trail which eventually would take them back to Sirena.

Sidnar tells us all to go to the next trail entrance and  wait for him as he follows the other trail to get the girls.  45 minutes later Sidnar returns but no girls.  He is going to back to the Sirena and see if they are there.  He returns after another 45 minutes and again no girls.  We now start to plan on setting up search parties when out of the trail appear the three girls.  They are exhausted.  The trail they took runs up into the hills and fortunately they had decided to turn around, knowing that they should be along the beach.

Finally with missing members found, we head off for the final leg of our journey. Another 5 hours to go along beautiful beaches and the crashing pacific.

It is almost 4pm and everyone knows that we will not be in Carate by 5pm.  New plan.  Keep the group together.  Off we go again.  The slower part of the group is growing in numbers.  Not only are the three women worn out by their misadventure but another is having knee and calf problems.  Fortunately the tide and the weather are with us.

It is now starting to get dark and everyone pulls out their flashlights.  Our injured party is becoming progressively worse until finally we devise a way to carry her with a long stick carried by four of our stronger guys.

Already tired from hiking 12 hours, Iguana Lodge’s determined group carries a injured co-worker for the last hour and half of the hike.

Most of our hike is now on the beach.  It is pitch dark out but  beautiful as our flashlights catch the giant waves crashing.  We are actually starting to come across sea turtles laying eggs on the beach.  How awesome.

One of 7 sea turtles. this one an Olive Ridley, we found nesting on the beach during our last hours of hiking at night.

I think we saw 7 in total.

We finally arrive at Carate with our patient taxis waiting for us.  It is 8:30PM.  Everyone is relieved and  happy.  Beers in hand we had back  to Puerto Jimenez along the long and bumpy road.  I feel little of it, asleep for most of the ride with another great adventure under my belt.


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