From Casa de Nubes, the road to San Gerardo de Rivas winds its way 22 km up from San Isidro de El General through the valley of the Río Chirripó. The road is paved for the first 10 km or so; after the town of Rivas, however, it is a gravel road that is bumpy, narrow and steep. The ‘center’ of San Gerardo de Rivas – as it is – consists of the ubiquitous soccer field and the pulpería opposite. The area is surrounded by lush coffee and agricultural farms.
The backdrop to this village scene is the rushing Río Chirripó with views of the Talamanca Mountain Range rising into the clouds on the continental divide. The river is fierce in these parts, crashing over cliffs and boulders as it tumbles down the mountain. Surrounded by the peaks of Mt Chirripo, Mt Uran, and Mt Ventisqueros , the alpine scenery is breathtaking, although at this altitude (1350 m), it’s often cloudy. Temperatures are noticeably cool and bird life is bounteous. The setting is ideal for nature lovers and those seeking to explore the outdoors. Amazing views of waterfalls and the cloud forest containing towering trees and exquisite flowers, birds of every color and variety are here to greet you.
For the San Gerardo de Rivas community, coffee is still a staple product, as is sugar, vegetables, fruit and dairy products. Coffee farming takes place on the high slopes of the surrounding hills and tours can be arranged. Local fruit stands are a ‘must stop’ for delicious pineapple, mango, papaya, passion fruit and lesser known varieties as well as dulce – the local sugar that is delicious in drinks and desserts. Worth trying too, are the many fruit juices or refrescos made from fresh fruit and water or milk.
While many travelers to San Gerardo are on their way to hike Mt Chirripó, you don’t have to climb the mountain to be able to walk around with your head in the clouds. Cloudbridge Nature Preserve is a perfect alternative for those who don’t have the time (or energy) to go all the way to the summit. And even a simple stroll around the village provides a cool reprieve from the coastal heat.