Sirena Ranger Station is in the heart of the Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica. Although there is a ranger station there, it is in the middle of the jungle and there is absolutely nothing around except trees and animals. You will have to carry in most of your provisions.
How are you entering and departing the park
The first question you have to ask yourself is how are you entering and leaving the park. There are three options to enter the park: boat, plane, by foot. If you are entering or leaving by foot, then it limits what you can bring in as you will have to carry provisions in a backpack for 6-8 hours. If you are taking a boat or plane in, although it is more expensive, will give you more latitude on what you can bring in.
The guides in the park pretty much all wear high rubber boats like the LL Bean boot (see the photo above of my guide, Felix, with his boots). This is especially recommended during the rainy season (May through November). Hiking boots can be worn, but the muddy trails will test them. Even gore-tex rainproof boots will fail when submerged in water and mud for extended periods of time. Boots are not allowed inside the ranger station, so make sure to have a camp shoe like a vibram or teva sandal to wear once done hiking the trails.
Bring a flashlight and candles
They have a generator at Sirena, and they turn on the lights from 6pm-8pm. Once the lights go out it is really dark there, especially in the rainy season when the days are shorter. Bring a flashlight and candles for your room.
Bring something to drink or smoke
Once you are done hiking there is not much to do around camp. Once they turn off the lights most people go to bed. They do this more out of boredom than from fatigue. I would recommend bringing a bottle of whiskey and some cigars to make the evening time a little more fun. This of may not be possible if hiking into the park, but I have always found room in my pack for a whiskey bottle. If you do this I guarantee you will make some good friends. I am not saying it is a good place to get hammered, but a stiff drink to relax hiking muscles would hit the spot.
Bring your own food
They do have a restaurant at Sirena Station, but the meals are ridiculously priced at $20.00 per person per meal. They have a communal kitchen where you can cook your own food. There is a supermarket in Puerto Jimenez where you can stock up. If you do not have a stove you will have to bring a lot of cold snacks. You may be able to borrow a stove at Sirena if you do not have one. The guides all have stoves there.
Bring your laptop
Believe it or not, they have wi-fi at Sirena. If you can bring in your laptop then you will have internet access. This also may be contingent on how you are getting to the ranger station.
This is I hope common sense, but when you visit a rain forest, it is a good idea to have a complete set of rain gear. This includes rain protection for your pack.
Contact lenses and a mirror
For those that wear glasses, I would recommend bringing contacts. My glasses kept fogging up in the humid jungle especially when looking into cameras, telescopes, and binoculars. There are no mirrors in the bathrooms so bring your own.
I was pleasantly surprised that the mosquitoes were not that bad. I figured in the rainy season in a rain forest in Costa Rica that they mosquitoes would be merciless. They were present, but they were tolerable. I would still recommend bringing repellant though.
Tent and sleeping bag
They have hostel type rooms there with sleeping pads, so mattresses and tents are not necessarily needed. If these rooms are all booked up, which often they are in the dry season, then you will need a tent.
If you have been to Corcovado, and you feel I have left out something important, please leave a comment on what I missed.
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Beautiful place, Ted..amen on the whiskey bottle tip
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What a great adventure- love the helpful tips!
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Hi Ted, my husband and I own a home in Bahia Ballena, and want to bring family down to Sirena when they visit. We’ve always wanted to see Corcovado, so this is a good excuse to finally go. My husband is 50, just had both knees operated on, and won’t be able to make the 14 mile hike in. We’re looking at boat and plane rides in. Could you share the contact info of the folks you flew with and any info you think is pertinent? thank so much 😉 Christine.
I went to Puerto Jimeniz and flew in there. It is $50.00 per person for a one way. Here is the website http://www.alfaromeoair.com/ You can also take a boat in from Drake Bay. I have never been, so I am not sure of any contact or cost involved. If you hire a guide they can handle the logistics.
Ted Nelson, I checked the website you provided and the flights are 350 per person not 50. How did you manage to get a 50 usd rate?
The $350.00 rate is if you privately charter the aircraft. I just showed up to Puerto Jimeniz with no reservation and got on the plane for $50.00. If you showed up by yourself and no one else was willing to fly then you would have to pay the $350.00, but Alvaro will only charge $50.00 a person as long as there are other people paying the $50.00 rate.
Thank you so much for the info. What about from Drake Bay? Do you know anything about it?
I have never been to Drake Bay, but I know it is doable because some people showed up at Sirena from the boat. I think you need to be staying at a lodge in Drake Bay or book a tour to do this. I am not sure if you can just get a ride and have them drop you off and pick you up later.
I did find this http://muchacostarica.com/tours–packages/day-tours/eco-tours-from-sierpe-drake-bay–osa-peninsula/corcovado-overnight-expeditions.aspx
And if I need to get a boat–do you know how I can do that?
I have booked Tocan Travel to book my boat ride from Drake Bay to Serena. They seem professional so far, but I will let you know how it works out. They also looked after booking the station dorms and meals for me. You normally need to do this with a bank in person but Tocan did this for me.
Yes, the guides can take care of the booking inside the park for you too. Have a great trip. Look forward to hearing how it went.
Hi Ted. Nice report from La Sirena. I’m going there in April. Do you know that if I want to camp I have to carry my tent or they tents in there and you can just take a sheet or something?
They have rooms at Sirena as well as a common sleeping area under a roof. You do not need to bring a tent as long as there is room at Sirena. Have a great trip.
Awesome information, many thanks!
We are planning to stay on one of the platforms instead of the rooms, I hear that can be a bit cooler. Any idea if we need to bring sleeping pads in addition to a tent? How about a sleeping bag? It sounds hot enough where I don’t think we need one, maybe a sheet?
I would contact the national park directly. I think you would want to bring a sleeping pad and a sheet or sleeping bag just to be sure, but they might be able to rent those out to you at the park, which would save room and weight in your backpack. I stayed in a room and they had a mattress and blanket, but I think the people that stayed on in the platform brought their own sleeping accoutrements.
I wouldn’t bring a sleeping bag, but a homemade sheet bag for sleeping in. It is hot even throughout the night.
I would recommend bringing chocolate for a caffeine fix in the afternoon too.
Thanks Angela for adding to the article with your tips. Yes, no need for a warm sleeping bag down there.