Costa Rica RFI

Hello and a very happy (hopefully mammal-filled) new year to all!

I’m hoping someone will be able to help me out with a couple of questions for a trip later this year:

1) Does anyone have up-to-date contact info for Avenatura (Damas/Manuel Antonio)?

2) Any recommendations for a good tour operator for a day trip to Sirena station in Corcovado NP from Drake Bay? I’ve failed to convince my other half of the merits of staying overnight at the ranger station…

Thanks, all the best



  • Jorn Van Den Bogaert

    i recommend to stay at least one night in the sirena station. The daytrips to sirena return already before 2pm so you are spending more time on the boat like in corcovado. I was last month 2 nights in sireba station. Also if you dont stay overnight in sirena the chances of seeing tapir is small. Jorn

  • David Robichaud

    Hi there,

    I just returned from a trip to Costa Rica. We spent four nights at the Sirena Station, and ended the trip with multiple Tapir, Tamandua, and three-toed Sloth sightings, as well as encounters with Collared Peccary, Coati, Red Brocket, Wooly Opossum, 2 species of squirrel, a spiny rat, four species of roosting bats, and four species of monkey. Our most productive time was the 5 AM nature walks, when almost all our Tapirs were seen, which you would miss on a day trip without an overnight. We did see a Tapir during the day one time because one of the local guides happened to find one in a wallow on that day and he happened to share it with our guide. Realisitcally, during a day visit, you stand a chance to see all four monkeys, and maybe one or two other things.

    Our guide was Henry Sandi from Surcos Tours, an excellent bird / herp specialist. He knew where to look for a few of the bats (known roosts), but everything else was seen becuase we happened accross the animals, and Henry had a good sense (hearing / smelling / seeing) for it. I got the impression that all the Surcos guides were top notch.


  • tomeslice

    Hi Mike,

    I “second” the vote for staying at least one night at Sirena station. It’s actually not that bad! Bunk beds – yeah, but if you stay at the rooms (as opposed to the camping platform, which is less recommended) then you don’t get so many people snoring.

    Anyway, day-trip or overnight, I can safely recommend Drake Rural Tours if they’re still in existence, and if not I would direct you to Rebeca Quiros on Facebook so that you can book with her directly.

    She does two things:
    1. take you out for a day trip or a multi-day trip to Sirena Station in Corcovado. Or sets you up with her partner (who was also extremely good, I forget his name though).
    2. She and her husband own a property called Tamandua biological Station, which borders Corcovado National park, but is kind of tricky to get to (I fell of a 4-ft mini-cliff with my car while trying to drive there myself, on the riverbank, flipping my car over sideways). But you can do whatever you want there, day or night – including extended night hikes with her and/or her husband, or alone. Having no phone reception, I would be inclined not to venture anywhere without her or her husband, or at least have them set me up with a guide. But the potential there is huge in my opinion.

    Another great option is of course the very expensive but extremely luxurious and comfy Bosque del Cabo rainforest lodge in Puerto Jimenez. This very luxurious lodge is at the very tip of the Osa peninsula, and sees many species quite regularly, including semi-regular puma sightings, sometimes right in the middle of the garden, occasional tamandua, rarely a tapir, an ocelot or a jaguarundi on the titi trail, very regular coatis, sloths, spider, howler and capuchin monkeys, collared peccaries, occasionally a white-lipped peccary herd, few silky anteaters here and there, and some cetaceans as well. One record of a grison, two records of a jaguar, and I don’t recall there ever being a tayra.

    • mikehoit

      Dave/Jorn/Tomer – thanks very much for the input, gave me plenty to think about. Much appreciate the replies, even if I’ve been slack at responding!
      Having spoken to a number of people, it seems that some years Tapir is easy on day trips, in others not, and that in some years visitor numbers are controlled and some years they aren’t – so it’s an unpredictable situation! A couple of guides record that tapirs are currently seen on 60-70% of day trips.
      In any case, I may have worked out a plan to stay over…
      Thanks again!

      • Jorn Van Den Bogaert

        For Tapir i recommend Tapirus lodge, but stay overnight ! We have seen in december 2 tapirs with the spotlight at night and in the early morning also 2 tapirs crossing our road. In Sirena i have seen on 3 days/2 nights, 1 night a Tapir with spotlight and 1 early morning 2 tapirs with Sunrise. ? Not 1 tapir during the day. Thats why i decided to stay overnight, because years ago i did a daytour to Sirena and i missed tapir. Best regard Jorn

  • Jon Hall

    Millenly is a good guide for Manuel Antonio and Silky Anteaters. Her details are on this page Cheers

  • Jon Hall

    Mike, also if Fiona Reid is around you could stay at her place (simple but comfortable) on the top of the Osa and she could arrange a day trip. She will also be able to get you some excellent bats and more.

  • mikehoit

    Hi all

    Thanks again for all the advice. Sadly I won’t be able to take in a stay at Fiona Reid’s place – it sounds brilliant but I had to promise a couple of nights of luxury as a payoff for staying a couple of nights at Sirena station! You can no longer book private rooms there but apparently the standard of accommodation is higher than it once was. At Jorn’s advice, we’re also staying at Tapirus so plenty of opportunity to compare the various options…


  • Jean Dille

    In February 2020, I went to Costa Rica for 10 days, visiting 2 places:

    1. Quepos for silky anteater

    Silky anteaters are difficult to find in Damas mangroves. Going on a boat group tour or on a kayak tour, the chances are very slim. You have to be lucky to spot a silky anteater near the edge of the mangrove.
    A private boat tour, only targeting silky anteater, is much more productive but sighting is no guaranteed. The eagle eyes of the guide and the boatman can spot a silky anteater much deeper inside the mangrove. After that, you can try, if possible, to penetrate on foot from branch to branch (I did it) into the mangrove to obtain closer and better oriented views. I did a 2 hours boat tour with Millenly who was recommended to me by Romain Bocquier. Jon Hall also recommends her above. I enjoyed a lot to go with her. She is a nice person. Her boatman spotted one silky anteater far inside the mangrove. It was really amazing and we were able to approach very close on foot.
    I have also visited Manuel Antonio by myself. The park was much too crowded on a Sunday! It is certainly better to go there on a week day and as early as possible.
    In Quepos, I stayed at La Foresta Nature Resort. The resort is good and their private reserve provides great mammals sightings. The mammals are the same as in Manuel Antonio but you have them only for you… I saw, among others, mantled howler monkeys next to my room early morning and a cooperative troop of red-backed squirrel monkeys from a trail.

    2. Drake Bay for Baird’s tapir

    I went to La Sirena for a day private tour with Rebeca Quiros, mentioned above. She was excellent. I asked her to focus on tapirs and we saw 5 different animals. Apart of tapirs, I also saw 1 tamandua (great and prolonged views!), 1 coati, 1 three-toed sloth, 1 troop of howler monkeys, 1 troop of spider monkeys, squirrels. The day trip returns before 2pm. My opinion is that, if you are only interested in tapir, a day private trip gives you a good chance. In the same time, you will have several other mammal sightings. If you want to see as many different mammals as possible and optimize your chances for tapir, an overnight at La Sirena station is recommended.
    In Drake Bay, I stayed at remote Rebeca’s Tamandua Biological Station. This is a basic but friendly place and Rebeca is a nice person. All Corcovado mammals are around but difficult to see from the trails or from the station. I missed a tapir in the riverbed, 50m away from the dining room around 7:30 pm. Toads and frogs were too noisy! I have the feeling that mammals (particularly monkeys) are easier to spot at more luxurious lodges.
    Drake Bay is also a good place for marine mammals. Seasonal humpback whales and 6 species of dolphins can be observed. I recommend Deep Blue. They go really offshore to maximize the chance of large pods seeing. We saw 1 humpback whale with her calf and 3 species of dolphins (pantropical spotted, bottlenose, roughtooth). Common and spinner dolphins are also regularly seen.

    • Jon Hall

      Thanks Jean – great that you saw Rough-toothed Dolphins. I splke to the operator there many years ago about seeing that species. Do you know how often they seem them now?

    • mikehoit

      Hi Jean

      Thanks a lot for the info – we had already arranged a trip with Millenly & booked to stay at la Foresta so it very reassuring to hear good things from you!
      I’ve also got a bit of spare time in Drake Bay which I had my eye on for cetaceans so thanks for the recommendation. Rough-toothed Dolphin has eluded me in the past so very keen.

      Having said all that I’m far from confident we’ll actually be going to Costa Rica as planned… just have to wait and see I guess.

      Thanks again

  • Jean Dille

    Jon, I do not know exactly but I think that roughtooth dolphins are regularly seen in very small pods. In fact, I went on 2 boat tours and saw roughtooth dolphins on both of them (2 on the first day and 3 more 2 days after)

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