Corcovado’s El Tigre: Hiking and Activities from Puerto Jimenez

On our most recent trip to Puerto Jimenez on Costa Rica’s remote Osa Peninsula, we found ourselves with very few options for day trips, especially hiking. The Herrera Botanical Gardens mentioned in our brand new Lonely Planet guide had been closed for four years, and treks into Corcovado National Park were either full-day or multi-day excursions. Some even required an expensive charter plane. Luckily, we kept digging and learned about a community project at Corcovado National Park’s new El Tigre entrance. In this post, we’ll share information about this amazing rural tourism organization and let you know about the numerous options for activities.     

 

Corcovado’s El Tigre Entrance- Hiking and Activities from Puerto Jimenez | Two Weeks in Costa Rica

Location and Access

The El Tigre entrance of Corcovado National Park is located on the eastern side of the Osa Peninsula, about 25 minutes from the town of Puerto Jimenez. You can access this entrance from the village of Dos Brazos de Rio Tigre (translating to Two Branches of the Tiger River). While Dos Brazos isn’t located inside Corcovado National Park, it abuts it. One trail from town leads into the park and others get very close to park limits. Instead of a ranger station, tours and hikes can be organized through the Conservation Association of Dos Brazos de Rio Tigre located right in town (more info below).    

For driving directions to the El Tigre entrance, see the bottom of this post.

 

Corcovado’s El Tigre Entrance- Hiking and Activities from Puerto Jimenez | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
Walking through the small town of Dos Brazos

Dos Brazos de Rio Tigre: A Community in Transition

Knowing some history about the small town of Dos Brazos de Rio Tigre will help you appreciate what a unique community it is. In fact, you would never know by looking at the few modest buildings that during a gold-mining boom in the 1970s-1980s, the town had over 2,000 residents. Today, there are less than 300.

During its heyday, families in Dos Brazos relied on gold mining to make a living. While much gold was found, over the years, rivers were stripped and most people struggled to make a living on gold alone. Residents looked for other ways to supplement their income, many turning to hunting. Unfortunately these practices sometimes crossed over into the protected areas of Corcovado National Park, where there was more gold and more animals.

 

Corcovado’s El Tigre Entrance- Hiking and Activities from Puerto Jimenez | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
Today you can still see a few gold miners and their huts set up along the river.

 

Looking for ways to help people earn a living in a more sustainable way, the community banded together and recently formed the Conservation Association of Dos Brazos de Rio Tigre (Asociacion Conservacionista Dos Brazos de Rio Tigre). Like many other communities in Costa Rica, the residents of Dos Brazos wanted to bring eco-tourism dollars into town as an alternative way to earn money. Soon they successfully advocated for the opening of a new entrance to Corcovado National Park (the El Tigre entrance), and designed tours that would support the community while protecting the natural environment.

 

Corcovado’s El Tigre Entrance- Hiking and Activities from Puerto Jimenez | Two Weeks in Costa Rica

 

When we arrived in Dos Brazos, we were lucky enough to talk with Ermer Azofeifa, the president of the Association. We met him at the small building where they start tours and train community members. He proudly let us know about the efforts of the group and wanted to make sure to specifically mention one major accomplishment. In just one year since their opening, they have converted 25 community residents (many who were gold miners or hunters) into local guides. He went on to explain about the array of activities that were available through the Association.

Activities at Dos Brazos de Rio Tigre

We discovered when planning our visit to Puerto Jimenez that most tours near town were ocean-based and often very costly. There were few land-based activities or hikes. Fortunately, Dos Brazos offers a nice selection.

Note: We recommend contacting the Association through their website in advance to set up tours, but they were able to accommodate us even though we just showed up.  

One Day Tour/Hike into Corcovado National Park

The main attraction in Dos Brazos is the Rio Tigre entrance to Corcovado National Park, which opened in February 2015. Corcovado National Park is one of Costa Rica’s most impressive parks because of its astounding biological diversity. There are over 375 species of birds, 124 mammals, and more than 8,000 different insects hidden among its thick jungle, not to mention the incredible diversity of plants. El Tigre Trail (Sendero El Tigre) starts at the edge of town and is a 5 mile (8 km) loop. This is a moderate-to-difficult hike, mostly because it is steep at the beginning, and takes about 7-8 hours.

Unlike other locations in Corcovado that require reservations months in advance, El Tigre does not require reservations through the SINAC (Sistema Nacional de Areas de Conservacion). Like we said, it’s a good idea to make reservations with the Association beforehand, but you can wait to do it when you arrive in Puerto Jimenez. As is the case with the rest of Corcovado, you do, however, need a registered guide to explore the trail. The price of the guide is included in the cost of the tour offered by the Association.

The El Tigre hiking tour is $150 for 2 people, $50 for each additional person.

 

Corcovado’s El Tigre Entrance- Hiking and Activities from Puerto Jimenez | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
El Tigre Trailhead

 

Gold Mining Tour

We love hiking, but with a two-month old, we weren’t about to try a 7-8 hour trek into Corcovado. Ermer suggested we try a shorter, flatter hike, which included a gold-mining demonstration. Even this was a little long for Sam, at about 3-4 hours, but he was a trooper in his baby carrier.

This tour goes along the Tigre River and close to the border of Corcovado National Park. Even though we weren’t inside the actual park, we got a sense of just how wild the area really is and saw tons of birds and different plant life. Our guides were José and Alan, and they did an excellent job introducing us to the town, explaining about its gold-mining operations (past and present), as well as teaching us about the local flora and fauna. We even got to try panning for gold ourselves and found some very small flecks in the riverbank.

The gold-mining tour is $30 per person. For more information, read our post A Gold Mining Tour: Hunting for Treasure on the Osa.

 

Corcovado’s El Tigre Entrance- Hiking and Activities from Puerto Jimenez | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
Our guides: José shows us how to pan for gold while Alan digs new material from the riverbank.

 

Bird Watching Tour

During our gold-mining tour, we have to admit that we were somewhat distracted by the amazing variety of birds flying around. Luckily, our guides also happened to be birding experts and once they noticed our interest, helped us spot almost 30 different species. Some of the highlights were the White Hawk, Blue-throated Goldentail, Ringed Kingfisher, Orange-collared Manakin, Purple Gallinule, and of course, the several pairs of Scarlet Macaw Parrots we saw in town. To further entice you, we learned that during a Christmas count in 2014, the community identified over 100 species in just one day! Dos Brazos de Rio Tigre is a unique hotspot for birds because of its diversity of habitats. There are primary and secondary rainforests, fields, rivers, and lots of small ponds and swampy areas that were created by prior mining operations.

Birding tours are $30 per person and include an expert guide for about three hours. They suggest an early morning or afternoon tour to see the most.

 

Corcovado’s El Tigre Entrance- Hiking and Activities from Puerto Jimenez | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
A Long-billed Hermit (hummingbird) visiting a flower on the banks of the Rio Tigre.

 

Other Tours

The Association is constantly adding new tours, but some of the others that we learned about are:

El Salto Tour: Called the El Salto (the Jump) tour, this hike brings you through the forest, crossing the river several times, to a small waterfall and swimming hole. $20 per person.  

Night Hike/Walk: A 2-hour walk through the forest, this tour will show you a lot of wildlife that remains hidden during the day. Night hikes are really fun because you never know what you’ll see. Common creatures are frogs, snakes, sleeping birds, and sometimes the glowing eyes of different mammals. $30 per person.

Horseback Riding: The horseback riding tour takes you through the rainforest and along the river in several spots. You’ll likely see locals panning for gold and get to see the jungle from a different vantage point, atop a horse. $75 per person.

Directions to Dos Brazos and El Tigre Entrance of Corcovado National Park

From Puerto Jimenez: Take the main road (Route 245) northwest for about 2.5 miles (4 km) and turn left after crossing the Rio Tigre Bridge. Look for signs for Dos Brazos and Parque Nacional Corcovado El Tigre. This road is not paved but is flat so you do not need a 4×4 vehicle. Continue to the town of Gallardo (about 2 miles/3 km) and look for a sign for Parque Nacional Corcovado. At the sign, take a right. Continue for a couple hundred meters and take the next road on the left. At this left there was no sign for Corcovado, but several signs for lodges (Los Mineros Guesthouse, Casa Aire Libre, Casa Los Suenos, etc.). After taking a left at those signs, follow the road straight (about 3 miles/5 km) until you reach Dos Brazos de Rio Tigre. You will see the rustic building for the tourism office on the right before you get to town. Parking is just after the building.

 

 

We were really happy to have discovered the community of Dos Brazos de Rio Tigre. All of the people we met in town and our guides were so friendly and helpful. After our tour, we ate a delicious and hearty meal at a small local restaurant, and it felt great to know that our tourism dollars were helping the community as a whole. If you are visiting Puerto Jimenez and looking for things to do a short distance from town, we highly recommend an activity through this dedicated community association.

Have a question about visiting Corcovado National Park’s new El Tigre entrance? Ask it in the comments below (email subscribers click here to post online).

Looking for more information to help you plan your trip? Check out these posts:

  • Packing for Costa Rica – Heading to a remote place like Puerto Jimenez? Check out our packing post for ideas on what to bring. Includes tips for rainy season travel.
  • Corcovado National Park – Read this post for a general overview of Corcovado National Park and the different ways to access it.    
  • Bird Photography: How to Get That Perfect Shot – Capturing images of birds and other wildlife in the rainforest can be a challenge. Learn some techniques in this post from our friend Jeff—he’s a pro!   

 

 

Related Posts

Pumas at La Paz Waterfall Gardens
La Paz Waterfall Gardens: Wildlife Up Close
A Catamaran Cruise in Manuel Antonio
Manuel Antonio Catamaran Cruise
Hanging Bridge at Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
The Famous Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
Wilson Botanical Garden in Costa Rica
Wilson Botanical Garden at Las Cruces Biological Station

20 Comments

  1. Hello there, thank you very much for this article. We will arrive to Costa Rica from Europe next week with 2 kids (6 and 11) and going to stay at Puerto Jimenez for 3 nights. This sounds like great tip as our budget is limited and CR seems quite expensive country. I have a few questions.
    Are KEEN sandals OK for such tracks you mentioned (gold mining)?
    Are there any other recommended activities with kids in Puerto Jimenes?
    We have your book but Puerto Jimenez is not mentioned. Thanks in advance for your tips.

    1. Hi Veronika, Something completely closed would be better than Keens because there could be stinging ants or other insects on the trail. Keep in mind though that you will have to cross a river (it’s very shallow in the dry season, don’t worry) so something waterproof or that you don’t mind getting wet would be good. I think the guide did make sure we had closed toe shoes. For other activities with kids, they would probably like the dolphin-snorkel tour, a chocolate tour, and also Playa Platanares- a secluded beach with fluffy gray sand a little south of town. It’s a little expensive because you have to take a boat, but there’s also the Osa Wildlife Sanctuary, where you can see monkeys, sloths, etc. It’ll be too late for your trip, but for everyone else, we are working on another post about Puerto Jimenez that will have lots of ideas for things to do.

  2. Hello, it is me again. I would like to thank you very much for Los Brazos tip. We visited Gold Mining Tour with our 2 kids. It was great experience – river is save and good to refresh, we can see and experience real gold mining work and see interesting local flora and fauna (mostly birds and insect). In the end I go in flip-flops and it was OK. We paid 30 USD, kids were for free and we all enjoyed it very much. Usually double price is set in Puerto Jimenez for similar trails. We stayed in Las Islas Lodge, which is also very nice and for good price.
    From our whole CR trip we liked Nosara the most (where we tried Boca Nosara horses tour – fantastic) and next time we would definitely skip Jaco and Manuel Antonio. Both is overpriced tourist trap for us. (I hope it would be understandable – my English is not perfect 🙂

    1. That’s great to hear that you and your family enjoyed the gold mining tour. Thanks for the follow up. It’s funny that you mention Boca Nosara Tours- we house sat for them for a couple of months about a year ago. Wonderful people, glad you got to meet them. Cheers!

    1. Hi Hazel, We are pretty sure they offer tours year-round so it shouldn’t be a problem. Just to be safe, email them (info[at]dosbrazosderiotigre[dot]com) in advance to make a reservation. They are a small organization so it’s always a good idea to let them know that you’re coming.

  3. hello Jenn and Matt, thank you so much for your wonderful site and sharing. I’m planning a December 2017 trip for my family, with an 8-year old, and we’re considering locating ourselves at Puerto Jimenez as a base. Question – without a rental car, are there options to take us to/fro Dos Brazos? For example, if we wanted to take the night hike/walk, is there a taxi or other option to get us to/fro Puerto Jiminez?

    Thank you,
    Fionna

    1. Hi Fionna, Yes, you could easily take a taxi to get to Dos Brazos. There are plenty available in town. Ask your hotel to arrange your pick up times in advance and you should have no problems. I’m not sure if they offer it, but you could also check with the Dos Brazos Tourism Association if they can provide transportation when you go to book the tour.

  4. Hi Jenn and Matt,

    I’m planning to the Corcovado tour and am wondering — where would you recommend staying the night before? In Dos Brazos somewhere? In Puerto Jimenez? It seems likely the tour leaves early, so I am trying to figure out where I can stay to make it easy to get an early start.

    Thanks for all the wonderful info on your site — it is invaluable as we are planning our trip for early July!

    Joel

    1. Hi Joel, Dos Brazos is really small and doesn’t have many options, but Puerto Jimenez isn’t too far so fine for an early morning tour. You can find some accommodation recommendations in PJ in this post. Enjoy your visit. Dos Brazos is a special place!

  5. One other question: do flights tend to run on time in Costa Rica?

    We are considering flying into SJO from Puerto Jimenez on Nature Air the same day we plan to fly back to the US, with a 3 hour layover in between. Obviously it’s not possible to speak for any specific flight, but in general is Nature Air reliable enough for a 3 hour layover to be enough?

    With my thanks,
    Joel

  6. Hello again,

    Thank you so much for your reply.

    We found our that the airstrip at Puerto Jimenez will actually be CLOSED for all of July! So we are going to have to change our plans.

    Joel

  7. We’d like to see Corcovado and its wildlife during our visit in early December. I’m torn between: 1. spending three nights in Dos Brazos (Amazonita lodge) and doing a guided Sendero de Tigre hike and others or 2. Boat-in to Sirena overnight from Drake.

    Would the experiences be similar as far as wildlife?

    Thanks

    1. Hi MK, Both options are excellent for wildlife viewing, but Sirena is the area of the park with the most visible wildlife. It’s fairly easy here to see Baird’s Tapir (very rare), all 4 types of monkeys that live in Costa Rica, various snakes, etc. See our Sirena post for more- and note that the lodging and meal options there recently changed (we need to update our post).

      1. Thanks for taking the time to reply! We’re biting the bullet (or our credit card is) and going to La Sirena for two nights. Can’t Wait! And will check out your post.

  8. Had the Gold mine tour today with alberto, who did not speak much English. Found several nice flakes o my husband says seven and the rivers were cold. My husband speaks more español than me so that helped. They have a brand new Tourism Center at the T in the road when you come to the Escuela make a left and go around the bend. Alberto is carving images of local fauna into the centers poles. The president of the Costa Rica recently visited and also the new bridge they are building to replace the one destroyed by the floods.

    1. Hi Dianna, Thanks for the interesting update about the Association. That’s great to hear that they have a new tourism center and are doing well. We will have to go back to check it out.

  9. I am so glad to see your posts. My name is Lorenzo “Doyle” Childers. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Osa back in 1965-70 and helped form the Association de Desarollo back then. I laid out or planned some of the original trails/roads in the region. I lived with the Polanco family. I came back in 2014 for the reunion. I was so pleased to see the progress but also a little sad to see how much was no longer there as I remembered it. The Osa was/is a wonderful place and I have so many fond memories of time spent with the many friends in the region. Andres Chaves and Mike Thompson, the Polanco’s and their families are some special friends but there are so many more. After 50 years there were several hundred people I still knew when I was back on the Osa in January 2014. I am so proud of the Park and what Dos Brazos (and Puerto Jimenez) is doing because during my career I was the Cabinet member in charge of Natural Resources including the 86 Missouri State Parks but the Osa time is still the most wonderful and formative experience I have enjoyed.
    Very best wishes,
    Lorenzo “Doyle” Childers

    1. Hi Lorenzo, That is a great story, thanks so much for sharing. I can’t even imagine all that has probably changed in the Osa and Puerto Jimenez since you volunteered and helped form the Association. That’s great that you were able to come back for a visit and reconnect with some of the people you knew. Thanks again for your comment!

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.