Day 81: Parque Nacional Corcovado (day 1)
corcovado Travel Blog› entry 108 of 120 › view all entries
After two lazy days at the beach it was time to heave our rucksacks onto our backs again and set out for some walking. The Parque Nacional Corcovado is one of Costa Rica's greatest trump cards. This park covers most of the Península La Osa, and protects as many as eight distinct habitats. According to National Geographic it is the “most biologically intense place on Earth” and pretty much an ecologist's ultimate wet dream. Well, I am no ecologist, but I do admit getting a little excited though.
We opted for a two-day walk which would first lead us from Los Patos ranger station through the rainforest to the Sirina ranger station at the Pacific coast, and then on the second day we would follow the coastline to the town of Carate from where we could take a bus back to Puerto Jiménez.
We shared a taxi to the entrance of the park with the Israelis we'd met yesterday, but from there onwards we went our separate ways.
Arnaud still wasn't feeling very well, and in fact I was getting rather worried about his condition. I will save you the gross details, but he had all the symptoms of a bacterial infection in his intestines. Though there isn't a big risk of cholera in Costa Rica, the disease does exist here, and I was getting really worried.
Arnaud was sure he would manage the trek though, and we agreed to visit a doctor if the problems persisted for the next two days.
The first day of the trek can be summed up in one word: fantastic! The whole day we walked through pristine tropical rainforest, encountering lots and lots of wildlife on the way.
We also bumped into several snakes, which were either hanging from a tree or crossing the path in front of us. One of them, a bright green one, refused to make way and stayed in the middle of track not allowing us to pass. I remember somebody once telling me how the brighter a snake, the more dangerous it is, so this bright green one must have been very dangerous. From a safe distance we threw a branch at it, which scared it off so that we could pass.
Slightly frightened by the encounter we made sure to stick to the middle of the track stamping our feet in order to frighten off any snake possibly hiding under the leaves on the ground.
The only thing that wasn't so great about the trek was the heat. The climb of the Cerro Cirripó had been nice and cool, but down here it was at least 20 degrees warmer, with humidity levels reaching 90%. I don't particularly like hot and humid weather, so I was glad when we reached the Pacific coast where a little sea breeze gave us some comfort.
The Sirina ranger station is the largest of ranger stations in the park and allows camping along the grass air strip (disaster permitting), or you can stay in a basic bunk bed in one of the two dorms. We camped. After all, I'd been carrying my tent along, which I hadn't used since Tikal (in all fairness, I hadn't really used my tent much this entire trip).
Dinner was yet another unexciting portion of pot noodles (still the easiest type of food to carry along on a two-day trek), after which Arnaud and I retreated to the beach to watch the sunset.
Although there had been a few other trekkers at the ranger station we had the virtually to ourselves. It was just us and a few hundred thousand hermit crabs. I've always liked hermit crabs, always thought they were cute, but one of Israelis we'd met yesterday told us they are in fact the most dangerous animals you can encounter at the beach.
Exactly, that was my initial response as well, but he was serious! And he had a point as well.
I laughed this away as some sort of urban legend when I heard it, but when I saw just how many of the crustaceans are roaming the beach in the evening I realised it would be impossible to fend them all off if they'd started nibbling on your open wound. And I soon found out just how ferocious these animals are. I caught one and was playing around with it a little bit, and I noticed this particular one didn't really hang on to his shell very well.
The sight of it left a bad taste in my mouth. I still like hermit crabs, but gheez, I never want to be stranded on a beach full of crabs, I can tell you that. And I felt sorry for the little fella I had accidentally caused to get killed.
Once the sun had set there wasn't much left to do for us, so we retreated to our tent, trying to get some sleep. Neither of us could really sleep, it was just too hot. Arnaud was giving me grief for having insisted on bringing my own tent, rather than renting a larger dome tent, which could be set up without the outer canvas and allow some air to circulate so that it is not as hot.
Half an hour later I got the last laugh though. It started to rain. Well, rain, piss pouring down would be more accurate.
Apparently the rental tents weren't such a good idea after all. I turned around in my little, fully water proof tunnel tent, and slept like a little baby.