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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

25 December 2013

Rainforest experience? Right.

20th December 2013

We’re back from our two nights in the Corcovado rainforest at Sirena ranger station. We were slightly perturbed by the rustic accommodation, but Corcovado is one of the best places in the Americas to see rainforest wildlife so it would be odd to pass it by. Almost… almost wish we had.

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The stay at Sirena is touted as a real “rainforest experience”, camping out close to nature. If by nature you mean a score of other pongy, snoring humans all sleeping cheek-by-jowl in lightweight tents on a wooden roofed platform then that’s about right. The bathroom facilities are pretty “natural” too, but that I shall leave to your imagination. Whatever you’re imagining, imagine worse. And of course, let me just refer you back to an earlier blog: nothing in the rainforest ever, ever dries. I did almost feel like warning those people hopefully washing their socks. Putting on smelly socks is one thing, dragging on still-wet socks and then walking for three hours is another!

Oh, thank goodness for Juan. He loaned us a pair of welly boots each. He gives these to all his guests who take day trips to Sirena and, even though he didn’t have to (and was indeed short on boots as a result), he loaned them to us too. The mud on the trails at Sirena is deep, unavoidable and sticky, and there are at least a dozen streams more than ankle deep to cross. Anyone wearing their nice walking boots, even waterproof walking boots, is in for a miserably wet and filthy time especially if staying a couple of nights. Which makes it all the more daft that the guiding companies (such as the one we booked with) don’t supply wellies. All the guides wear them, after all!

And above all the mud and deprivation, we are also knackered. Our guide, Roger, is a bird watcher really, but anyone who guides at Sirena for a while is bound to get pretty good at mammals. He was certainly keen to help us find them, and so we walked for 25 hours over 2.5 days in search. 8am to 5:30pm, then 4am to 4:15pm, then 3am to 11:45am with perhaps a total of 4 hours of breaks in there for a bite of breakfast or lunch.

Yeah, 3am. You aren’t allowed to do night walks at Sirena, but apparently starting at 3am is just a very early morning walk, with two hours by torchlight. : )

Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the hour long boat ride to reach Sirena from Bahia Drake, across a sea of lumpy concrete with a rainstorm on the way that drenched us to the bone. Or of course the ever-present mosquitoes. And Maureen would probably like a special mention to go to putting contact lenses in at 3am in a tiny pup-tent while looking into a four inch wide pocket mirror by torchlight!

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Well, at least we saw some very splendid mammals. Wow, look at the length of this post! I guess there’s no time to mention them… ; )


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