When people of the Osa Peninsula talk of overnight tours in Corcovado, it is commonly assumed that they are speaking of staying at the Sirena Ranger Station portion of the park. The San Pedrillo Ranger Station is the only other ranger station that also possesses overnight capabilities but it is much less known and it has never been as comfortable as the now newly built Sirena Ranger Station.
There are very reasonable people that choose to accept the slightly less comfortable conditions of the San Pedrillo Station over the experience found in the Sirena Ranger Station. It has many benefits over Sirena when it comes to experiencing the jungle in its purest form, which you can read about in the San Pedrillo section of the site.
Overnight tours in the Sirena Ranger Station have always been very popular and there are 3 ways that tour operators generally structure the adventure:
1) La Leona-Sirena-Los Patos
The greatest traffic of Sirena overnight visitors come from Puerto Jimenez, which is located on the southeastern tip of the Osa Peninsula. Guides originally hiked people from La Leona Ranger Station to Sirena for dining, sleeping, breakfasting and then they returned to La Leona. Puerto Jimenez produced lots of business using this model and within a couple of years the traffic on the trails of La Leona caused many of the animals to jump ship, creating many disappointed visitors. Nowadays, the Puerto Jimenez tour guides generally begin at La Leona Ranger Station and hike to the Sirena Ranger Station where people dine, sleep, breakfast and then they end the tour with the walk to Los Patos Rangers Station. This is nice because it allows guests to experience 3 of the 4 major ranger stations, with varying elevations and ecosystems.
My problems with this are:
- Visitors often express dissatisfaction with the La Leona Station because of the effects of mass tourism in the area.
- Los Patos is at high elevations which creates an environment with less water and comparatively less life.
- The distance and terrain of this hike is too much for most people. They often comment that they didn’t have a chance to enjoy it because the trails are difficult, even during dry season. After rain, the steep trails leading to Los Patos Rangers Station also become very slippery.
- Most comment that there is not enough time to be at Sirena Station.
- Tours organized from Puerto Jimenez often have guides that only pretend to be from the Osa Peninsula.
2) The Reverse Option
This tour starts at Los Patos Rangers Station and the group treks to Sirena Ranger Station where people dine, sleep, breakfast and then conclude the tour walking to La Leona Ranger Station.
I think that this is better than the first option because it is easier to walk down from Los Patos Ranger Station than up to it.
3) Sirena from Drake Bay
The 3rd option of doing an overnight tour to Sirena Rangers Station is to do the adventure from Drake Bay. Here, guides take visitors directly to Sirena by boat. This experience usually begins with a hike of 2-3 hours through one of Sirena’s 5 trail loops. The guests then sign in at the station and relax before lunch. After lunch is an afternoon hike which is completed by 4pm. Dinner is served at 5:30 and guests are encouraged to sleep early.
The next morning will start with a 3am wake up call and breakfast at 3:30. The morning hike begins at early in order to experience the jungle as it awakes. After the morning hike ends, guests will eat lunch, gather their things and meet up for the return boat to Drake Bay.
The positives of overnight at the Sirena Ranger Station from Drake Bay are as follows:
- The ability to stay in the much more natural village of Drake Bay is a huge plus when compared to staying in the city of Puerto Jimenez.
- Visitors experience the maximum amount of time in the place with the most biodiversity of animals on earth. From Puerto Jimenez it is usual to arrive at Sirena just before the trails close with little to no energy for exploring.
- The tour guides of Drake Bay work together by telling each other where they experienced something special. This relationship does not exist amongst Puerto Jimenez tour guides, so your chance of spotting something amazing are greatly increased when you go with Drake Bay.
- In the Drake Bay model, the trails are flat and clean. The Puerto Jimenez routes contain many places where children, the elderly or the less-athletic simply cannot go. The trails are often too slippery and are too steep.
The Drake Bay to Sirena tour does not contain 1.5 hrs of driving on a hot, bumpy, dirt road.
An hour and fifteen minutes on a boat, both going to and coming from the station, provides 2.5 hours worth of opportunity for whale, dolphin and other marine species sightings.
I have had 100% of Drake Bay visitors state that an overnight tour in the Sirena Ranger Station was too expensive before actually going on the tour. I have never heard a tourist say the same after their tour was over. I have never had someone visit the Sirena Ranger Station overnight and say that it was anything less than amazing.