At La Palma, 11 kilometers south of Rincón, turn left for Puerto Jiménez . To the right, the gravel and mud road leads 12 kilometers up the Valle del Río Rincón to the Estación Los Patos ranger station, easternmost entry point to Corcovado National Park .
Eventually you find yourself driving along a riverbed to reach the park; not possible in wet season! En route, you’ll pass the 2,713-hectare Reserva Indígena Guaymí, a primary rainforest reserve.
On the road to Puerto Jiménez, Finca Köbö (tel. 506/8398-7604, www.fincakobo.com ), four kilometers south of La Palma, is worth a visit. This self-sufficient organic farm grows cacao, plus fruits and vegetables, and has trails through regenerated forest and 30 hectares of primary rainforest. A chocolate tour is offered ($28), as is kayaking and even a night tour in the forest.
Tucked in forest, the charming Danta Corcovado Lodge (tel. 506/2735-1111, www.dantalodge.com , $55 s or $84 d low season, $64 s or $108 d high season, including breakfast and tax), about two kilometers west of La Palma on the Los Patos road, is a Goldilocks and the Three Bears–style lodge of rough-hewn timbers and cut logs. Run by the local community, it has exquisite, albeit simply appointed, rooms in the lodge, plus two tin-roofed, cement-floor cabins in the 12-hectare private forest; the latter have super outside showers and modern toilets. A lagoon contains caimans. Horseback, bird-watching, and hiking tours are offered. Bring insect repellent.
The nicest place to stay is Finca Köbö (tel. 506/8398-7604, www.fincakobo.com , $33 s, $60 d), with a lovely upscale rustic ambience. It manages a gracious aesthetic despite the simple furniture. Six bedrooms are above the lounge and have fans, mosquito nets, and hot water, plus hammocks on the veranda. It serves hearty meals using products from the organic garden.
Puerto Jiménez–bound buses pass through La Palma.
CoopeUnioro, at Los Patos, is a local cooperative of former gold miners who offer guided tours. Pre-Columbian peoples sifted gold from the streams of the Osa millennia ago. But it wasn’t until the 1980s that gold fever struck. After gold panners—oreros—found some major nuggets, prospectors poured into the region. At the boom’s heyday, at least 3,000 miners were entrenched in Corcovado National Park. Because of the devastation they wrought—dynamiting riverbeds, polluting rivers, and felling trees—the park service and civil guard ousted the miners in 1986. Most oreros have turned to other ventures—not least ecotourism—but it is not unusual to bump into a lucky (or luckless) orero celebrating (or commiserating) over a beer in a bar.
About 25 kilometers southeast of La Palma, four kilometers before Puerto Jiménez , a turnoff to the right follows the Río Tigre 14 kilometers west to Dos Brazos, the old center of gold mining, one kilometer from the eastern border of Corcovado National Park .
A basic accommodation is Backpackers Bolita (tel. 506/8877-7334, www.bolita.org , $5 pp camping, $8 pp dorm), which rents foam mattresses to campers and has dorms and solar-heated showers. It’s a tough 700-meter hike from the end of the road, and you have to cross the river.
If you don’t want to tackle the river, Los Mineros Guesthouse (tel. 506/8721-8087, www.losminerosguesthouse.info , $12 pp shared bath, $15 pp private bath), on the north side of Dos Brazos, has three basic A-frame huts with shared bathroom, plus four no-frills rooms with private bath. Meals are served, and guests get kitchen use. This place once served as the community’s brothel. Your room can tell some tales!
Chocuaco Lodge (tel. 506/8706-5975, www.osa-chocuacolodge.com , $35 s/d including breakfast), 4.5 kilometers along the road to Dos Brazos, also has endearingly simple cabins on a working farm where you can enjoy horseback rides.
The rustic yet pleasant wood-and-stone, tin-roofed Bosque del Río Tigre Sanctuary & Lodge (tel. 506/8824-1372 or 506/8383-3905, www.osaadventures.com , $155 s or $270 d low season, $149 s or $340 d high season, including meals) adjoins a 31-acre private nature reserve and has four bedrooms, plus a cabin with private bath. It has airy open spaces with Adirondack chairs, plus a library. Bird-watching is a specialty of the owners, who keep the place spic-and-span. A night frog walk, mangrove kayaking, and other activities are offered, as are package rates. Turn left at the school as you enter Dos Brazos; the lodge is 400 meters up the valley, surrounded by forest. You need to ford the river, which can be impassable in wet season.
Buses serve Dos Brazos from Super 96 in Puerto Jiménez at 5:45 A.M., 11 A.M., and 4 P.M. daily; return buses depart Dos Brazos at 6 A.M., noon, and 5 P.M. daily.