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Survivorman TV Episode on the Osa: Demystified?

Bethesda MD
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Survivorman TV Episode on the Osa: Demystified?

kellya29 (thanks!) pointed me to the “Survivorman” TV episode (Discovery Channel) in which Les Stroud (and his TV cameras, satellite phone, pocket multi-tool, but little else) strands himself in the Osa in the noble cause of infotainment. The episode is his Season 1, Episode 3. I think it first aired in 2004. It’s available on Youtube in five parts, starting with http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZl6O_GHhNo . Somewhat hokey and breathless, but a fun watch.

Watching it got me curious as to exactly where he was. He starts on a beach, stays there for several days, and then purports to take three days to hike across the jungle, out to a beach, and then along a beach to “civilization.” I don’t think that even on the Osa, there’s any beach from which one can’t reach a habitation in one day’s hard march: the San Pedrillo and La Leona ranger stations, and the settlements near each, are each reachable in one day from Sirena (per any number of sources), and that’s the sparsest part of the entire peninsula.

If anyone knows, please chime in. But here’s what I think I’ve figured out.

I couldn’t find any direct information on exactly where the episode was filmed, although the Discovery Channel website does confirm that it was on the Osa (…discovery.com/fansites/survivorman/episodes…). There’s some speculation on the Fodor’s forum that Bosque del Cabo was involved, but then everything on that forum revolves around BdC. Poor Man’s Paradise says that his hike ended there, i.e., at Playa San Josecito between Drake Bay and San Pedrillo. poormansparadisecorcovado.com/lodges.html .

So, let’s turn to the videos themselves. He says early on that he’s facing the open Pacific, not the Golfo, and that’s consistent with the video. (So, at least there wasn’t a road right behind him the whole time!) He also says that he started by kayaking “many miles” from a resort. Beyond that, there are several particularly notable topographic features. The first several days are spent in a cove, with numerous offshore rocks. When he hikes out, he passes more offshore rocks. Towards the end of the hike, there’s a large waterfall. And he claims to encounter little fresh water until near the end of the hike.

Comparing those features to Google Earth, and assuming he doesn’t tell any direct lies, the only way I can make the story fit is if he starts at one of the coves right near Punta Llorona. That is, near the location where Google Earth has the photo http://www.panoramio.com/photo/26642931 , and gives the coordinates 8 degrees, 35 minutes, 1.45 seconds North, 83 degrees, 43 minutes, 11.78 seconds West.

Now, that location is all of about 2 miles from the San Pedrillo ranger station (which I believe is visible from the beach on which he probably walked past it), and maybe one more mile to Playa San Josecito. And from the rocks where I’m guessing he did his spearfishing, I think he would have been able to see the mouth of the Rio Llorona, addressing his supposedly desperate quest for fresh water.

All in all, I’m somewhat reminded of this: www.youtube.com/watch…

San Francisco...
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1. Re: Survivorman TV Episode on the Osa: Demystified?

Care to watch I'm a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here in Costa Rica and try to demystify Heidi and Spencer for me?

Puerto Jimenez...
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2. Re: Survivorman TV Episode on the Osa: Demystified?


It's hard to tell which direction he started his Kayak ride - from the Carate side or the Drake side, but my guess is that it was on the Drake Bay side. It seems pretty clear that he was inside Corcovado along the ocean most likely on the Drake side of Sirena, and then hiked out to San Josecito. While there are rocks and other landmarks, many coves have similar landscapes, which makes it hard to pinpoint his exact location.

It seems foolish that he ventured into the jungle for 2 nights, but I guess that makes good TV. Following the coast line is the best way to keep from getting lost and to find civilization on the OSA. Pipas (young coconuts) are a lifesaver as they are packed with electrolites and you can eat the meat inside. Another reason to follow the coast.

I'm also surprised that he didn't see any other animals besides spider and capachin monkeys.

In my opinion, anyone who kayaks alone on the Pacific Osa is nuts, and to go without a knowledgable pathfinder or guide is insane. (I know, it's for the sake of edutainment!)

Pura Vida,

Ballardo Diaz, Jungle Guide

San Jose, Costa Rica
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3. Re: Survivorman TV Episode on the Osa: Demystified?

Jaguardman you are so correct...only on a TV show !

I remember some years ago a plane crashed somewhere inside the park...and it was days to find it...I really do not see any body with just a knife spending time looking for a village?


Bethesda MD
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4. Re: Survivorman TV Episode on the Osa: Demystified?

Thanks ... I just couldn't see any non-river-mouth cove on the Pacific coast south of Punta Llorona until well beyond Sirena, and if his cove was beyond Sirena, he'd likely have had hikers passing right behind him during his three days at the starting beach and then crossed multiple rivers on his hike. So the hike was either very short (in distance, though through jungle) or very meandering.

5. Re: Survivorman TV Episode on the Osa: Demystified?

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