- Costa Rica is NOT a cheaper place to travel. The prices are high. It is like almost travelling in USA.
- Going from one place to the other takes a long time by public transport. Domestic flights are expensive too.
- Very nice beaches and awesome sunset.
- Spent time in Corcovado National Park. Don't expect anything like African safari but the nature is very beautiful and spotting the animals is difficult.
- You can experience non-touristy cloud forest for less money near San Jose (less than 2 hrs by bus) - San Gerrado. Bird watchers paradise.
Why and Where
Getting Ready for the RemotenessAfter checking into our hotel that is very close to the San Jose International Airport, I repacked the bags into three sets - 1. bags to carry on the 7 hour hike to the Corcovado NP, 2. bags to leave with hotel in Puerto Jimenez and 3. things that we don't need & can be left with the hotel in San Jose. By the time I repacked the bags and left a few bags with the concierge, it was about mid-night and we had to wake up at 430 am to catch our 6 am flight to Puerto Jimenez.
Almost a Personal Flight
Hike to Sirena
After picking up the groceries for the camping, we forgot about getting the breakfast in the hurry to start the hike ;-( but we were able to get some cheese empanadas in Carate and started the hike in the hot-humid weather @9 am. On the way to our first stop at the La Leona Ranger Station, we saw a number of vultures eating a huge turtle on the beach and macaws on the trees. Walking on the beach with a lot of weight is not fun and we needed to cross a section of the beach before 1230 pm to avoid the high tide, so we took a brief break at the La Leona ranger station.
Reaching the Campsite
Remoteness Disappointment (in a funny way)
Camping FoodWe didn't reserve the meals in the ranger station well advance, so we couldn't eat in their dining facilities (each breakfast is $20 and lunch/dinner is $25). The whole area is maintained very clean and we were surprised to learn that the whole ranger station is maintained by just two people. Since people were not allowed to cook in the ranger station, the place was very clean and nothing stinking in that area.
Enrique had an electric water heater that we used to heat the water to make coffee and to heat up the tasty bites Indian pre-cooked food (originally we were planning to eat it without heating them up). In addition to the Indian food, we had fajitas, re-fried beans in a packet that we got from Nicaragua, avocados, tomatoes and cereal (that we were eating without milk/hot water). We were using the fajita
s for the Indian food as well as to make the burritos. A number of people were buying the water bottles from the ranger station but we decided to test our guts by drinking the tap water and survived ;-)
After dinner, I was having conversation with the Costa Ricans who arrived late about their hike and what they do. There're a lot of call center jobs moving to Costa Rica now instead of going to India or to any other Asian countries because of the cost. Couple of guys in that group were working for the call center based out of San Jose.
Encounter with Tapir
ey will bring the plane to take you to the hospital but if bitten after dark, there's nothing much can be done because the planes won't be able to land at night. So while going for the walk, I was little worried about pumas and snakes but I was safe there all the time. While sitting in the beach enjoying the sunset, there's no human being in the half mile radius and the feel of being alone in the forest was an amazing feeling.
Meeting PeopleWhile having dinner, we were talking to a guide,Michael Dublin - according to him he's the only foreign guide in the Puerto Jimenez and he moved from Ireland to Costa Rica about 18 years back. His story is interesting one: he was born in Pakistan, studied Chemistry and then studied to be a biologist in Ireland. After working in Africa for a few years, he moved to Argentina first and then to Costa Rica as a biologist for a lodge. Now he's running his own tour operations with his friend. He never gone back to Ireland in the last 18 years.
|The "Naked Indian" tree|
Where is the Puma ?
Snoring PeopleWe went for a short hike in the evening in which we spotted a family of white faced monkeys and took it easy to save our energy to hike back to Carate the next day. But the plan to have a good night sleep was spoiled by a couple of guys from Israel - I never thought that someone could snore that loud, and having ear plugs couldn't stop their snoring noise. I didn't have any problem sleeping with the horrible snoring noise but Patty couldn't handle them because her tent was right next to them.
Getting back to Civilization
We spotted a lot of white faced monkeys near the La Leona ranger station and after that the walk on the beach to Carate was quick. Alex picked us up in Carate to take us to our Backpackers hostel, Patty was staying outside the town (she tried to change her accommodation to stay in town but no availability), Janek and we decided to meet up for dinner.
Puerto JimenezBackpackers Hostel, is in the main part of the city very close to the restaurants and the bus station. The town, Puerto Jimenez, is small town with some good places to eat but the public beach in town is very small and no waves. It is a good place to soak in the water and the sunset is awesome . After the dinner with the Janek and Martina, we walked around the town at night for about a kilometer without any worries.
The next day, we slept late before going for the breakfast and after that came back to the room to sleep some more instead of going to Uvita for a day. We left to the beach around 3 pm to swim and then enjoyed the most beautiful sunset we had seen in the Central America. Collected the laundry and had dinner in the Pizza place, which was really good.
Fifteen Year Old DetectiveWe got in the bus and occupied a few empty seats for the next 30 minutes before someone with the seat assignment kicked out my kids but I was lucky to have to seat for the whole trip. My kids were sitting on the empty space on the bus, allocated for the wheel chair, and having conversation with a fifteen year boy. The boy is a local kid traveling to San Jose who got attracted to Shabina, trying to impress her by lending his PS3 for her to play and trying to have non-stop conversation..;-) He told me that my daughters were good kids and Shabina was beautiful. After sometime, my daughters wanted to escape him and they got a perfect opportunity when the bus stopped in a rest area.
When the journey continued after twenty minute break, I sacrificed my seat for my kids and I sat down with the kid. The assistant to bus driver came looking for me and asking the person who was sitting next to me in the seat where I was, because he didn't find me in my seat he was concerned. I was so happy that the bus operators cared for me :-) Now the kid started to converse with me, his English was decent enough for me to follow and he was using the translator in his phone to communicate with me (his English is much better than my Spanish). He mentioned that he wanted to be in CIA, currently he was working as a detective for the Costa Rican government informing on the drugs, thugs and helping tourists to travel safely. Because his dad was working in this field for a long time, he was able to join the force when he's ten years old ;-) I was not sure whether he was trying to impress me but there was no bad intentions so I didn't care. As we got closer to San Isdro General, he shared his email and invited us to visit his home.
Road to See QuetzalWe had to change a bus in San Isdro General to take another bus to San Jose, which pretty easy and
Hitchhiking to Hike
It is a well maintained trail with the very beautiful views of the streams and the mountains. After spending about two hours in the trail, we were started to walk uphill, I requested for the ride from the first car that I saw on the road after walking about a kilometer and it was Carlos, the taxi driver who was driving the car. He gave us the ride to our cabin and no money asked or paid ;-)
Back to San JoseThere are only few buses stop at KM-80 to pick up the people to go to San Jose and we took the early morning bus @630 and arriving at San Jose around 9 am. After spending a couple of hours in the central market, we took the bus to the airport and walked to the hotel from the airport. When we asked the cops at the airport how to get to the hotel from the airport, they advised us to take the taxi but the taxi guys told us not to waste money on them and asked us to walk. It took us less than 10 minutes to the hotel by foot and nothing complicated other than running across the busy road..;-) On the way to the hotel, we stopped over in the Wal*Mart and ended up not buying anything because everything is expensive there.
- The public bus system is good but not frequent. Takes forever to go from one place to other. You should buy tickets in advance for long distance travel to get a comfortable seat.
- Most people speak English but speaking Spanish helps you a lot
- Corcovado National Park is good but spending 3 nights was too much. If I had to do all over again, I would go into from Drake Bay and get out to Carate staying maximum of two nights.
- Get a guide if you are planning to go to Corcovado.