Paradise found – Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

First, let me set your expectations as ours were set.  Anytime we’ve asked where to visit in Costa Rica, Ticos and foreigners alike practically beg us to go to the Osa peninsula in the southwest of the country.  A number of friends had also done trekking trips in Corcovado National Park on the peninsula, and said it was some of the best hiking they had every done.  The stage is now set.

We headed to Carate, the nearest village to the park. Our first mission was to find secure parking for the hike since we just can’t leave our beloved Vida any old place. We pulled into the Lookout Inn hoping to get some advice for the price of two cold beers. Our thirst for cold beer has never led us astray. We had the pleasure of meeting the owners/operators who kindly offered us a parking space for 3 days.  They also suggested that we have a look around their property.  The main guest area of the inn is perched on a hill in a lush tropical setting.  You’re first struck by the view of the ocean and peninsula, but then start to notice all of the wildlife (humming birds, iguanas, parrots, etc.).  We also took a walk up their ‘Stairway to Heaven’ at the end of which we came across a Tapir.  Now, I had no knowledge of Tapirs before this very moment.  Consider what would pop out if an elephant and pig could mate. We camped out that evening on the beach close to the inn.  George also took a guided tour around the gardens looking for frogs.  Predictably, I passed on this one.

The next day we set off on the 22km hike to the Sirena ranger station where we would spend 2 nights. Your hike must be timed with the tides because there is one beach section that can’t be crossed during hide tide. The day started off with rain, but considering this is a hot beach hike, rain is not such a bad thing. The downside of the rain is fewer critter sightings, but we more than made up for this later.  George carried the big pack with lion’s share of our food for 3 days.  I felt a little guilty that he had to lug all that weight, but also took notice that he was hiking slower than usual.  The heavy canned food was acting like a George anchor, and I could actually keep up with him (I didn’t really feel guilty after that).  After 3 river crossings we finally made it to the station and were shown our bunks.  I had several blisters and cuts from the hike.  Luckily Dr. Ionkov was around to clean, treat and bandage me up.

The following day we did some shorter hikes around the station.  We saw lots of monkeys, a family of anteaters, another eyelash viper, a tapir and a boa constrictor.  That evening, we tried to eat up the heavy canned food and planned to eat tuna for breakfast.  There is nothing appetizing about canned tuna at 5 am, let me tell you.

On the way out of the park, I relied heavily on my early warning system for snakes (G walked ahead of me tapping his hiking pole).  We came across 5 snakes and came away bite free.  That’s a check for the early warning system.  The hike out was much hotter.  At one point I was completely overheated, so Dr. Ionkov stepped in to wash my face and force me to hike in my sports bra.  The shirt I had chosen to hike in wasn’t breathable, so it felt like my own personal hot box.  I didn’t look so pretty the rest of the way out, but I made it on my own two feet.

The beach hiking in the heat is definitely a slog, but the pristine beaches and bustling jungle more than make up for it.