The Way from San Jos

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Destinations: News for Adventurous Travelers, November 1996

The Way from San José

Navigating the Osa
By Bob Payne

For easiest access to most of the Osa Peninsula, start in the Golfo Dulce town of Puerto Jim‹nez, 50 miles south of San Jos‹. Here, in keeping with the peninsula's adventurous spirit, the tiny airstrip is situated next to the cemetery. Two flights daily arrive from San Jos‹; one-way fares are $50 on Sansa (011-506-233-0397) and $81 on the somewhat more reliable Travelair (220-3054). Or charter one of Aero Costa Sol's light planes from San Jos‹ to any place on the Osa that has an airstrip (800-245-8420). If four or five people share the cost, this alternative can be as affordable as a scheduled flight.

You can also get to the Osa by bus from San Jos‹. But the trip takes up to 12 hours on spectacularly rutted roads past such landmarks as Cerro de la Muerte (Peak of Death)--perhaps more "adventure" than you desire. If you're heading to Drake Bay, take the bus from San Jos‹ to the town of Palmar Norte (Tracopa bus line, 221-4214) and then go to Sierpe by taxi ($15). If, instead, you're heading toward Corcovado National Park or other points south from Drake Bay, take a taxi to Palmar Norte and then down to Chacarita, where you turn off the Interamerican Highway for Rincün, La Palma, and Puerto Jim‹nez. From La Palma, you can walk about six miles to the Los Patos Ranger Station, at the eastern entrance to the park. To get to the park's other entrance at La Leona, catch the collectivo in Puerto Jim‹nez. This small passenger truck bounces for two hours along a primitive red-mud road to your destination.

Finally, for maximum maneuverability, you can rent a car in San Jos‹ (a Toyota 4Runner from National goes for $480 per week). But it must have four-wheel drive--and many of the places you'll want to see, including the Corcovado, have no roads at all.

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