The Chirripo National Park protects forested areas in the southern Talamanca Mountain region, south of Tapanti National Park. Mt Chirripo is the highest peak in Costa Rica at 12,532 ft. The mountains in this area are covered in thick primary cloud and rainforest to about 9,000′ elevation. From there, the Paramo, or wet desert is the primary ground cover.
There is more than 8,000 feet of elevation change from the San Gerardo Station to the peak at Mount Chirripo, Costa Rica. Vegetation and climate conditions change with elevation, and temperatures can be below freezing at certain times of the year.
No technical climbing or mountaineering expertise is necessary to reach the peaks in the Park, but the steep trek is approximately a 30 mile round trip, and typically planned for 3 days. The Ranger Station is found in San Gerardo de Rivas, and is open for visitor attention from 5am to 12pm. Los Crestones Base camp is equipped with bunk beds, a cooking area, and cold showers. The only other camping allowed in the Park is at the Indian Pass Camping Area along the Uran Trail.
• Area: 125,600 acres
• Location: 9.48°N, 83.48°W San Jose, Limon and Cartago Provinces
• Max. Elevation: 12,532′
• Precipitation: up to 150 inches
• Date of Creation: 30 August 1975
The Cloudbridge Nature Reserve spans 700-acres purchased in 2002 by Ian and Genevieve (Jenny) Giddy. The reserve has easy to moderate walking trails including almost 20 km (12 mi) of river and ridge trails bordering Chirripó National Park. It’s a pleasant alternative for hikers who aren’t up to the challenge of Mt Chirripó. Cloudbridge Nature Reserve borders the primary forest of Chirripo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The cloud forest has tremendous animal diversity. Hummingbirds are easily attracted. Birdwatchers may observe numerous species of brightly-colored birds. Perhaps even sighting the reclusive Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocino) or listening for the liquid song of the jilguero or Mountain Robin (Turdus plebejus ). Some birds can easily be photographed. For instance, the Collared Redstart (Myioborus torquatus), or “friend of man”, is not shy. It may fly right towards one’s camera. Mammals are not easily seen, but the park shelters jaguars, peccaries (wild pigs), tapirs, spider monkeys, squirrels, tayras, and many other species. Reptile lovers can find many lizards that are endemic to the highlands, such as the spiny lizard found mostly in the paramo. Snakes, such as the parrot mountain snake, also inhabit the cloud forest, but in general, snakes are rarely seen. Insect life is abundant at lower elevations, but diminishes the higher one goes.
The flora in Chirripo National Park is one of the most complex and diverse of Costa Rica. The park owes its diversity to its wide altitude range, rising from 1500 m to 3819 m above sea level and to the unique microclimates of the Pacific and Caribbean Slopes.
Several large waterfalls including the easily accessible Pacifica Falls are found throughout Cloudbridge Nature Reserve.
Cloudbridge Nature Reserve encourages visits from researchers, volunteers and schools. Donations are also welcomed.
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.
Hacienda Barú National Wildlife Refuge & Lodge is situated on Costa Rica’s Southern Pacific Coast. This is a region of distinct natural beauty where forest covered mountains rise up from the dramatic Pacific coastline.
Spanning 815 acres, the Hacienda Barú National Wildlife Refuge & Lodge has a fantastic variety of habitats. They range from wetlands and secondary rainforests in the lowlands, to the primary rainforest on the highland coastal ridge. Seven kilometers of walking trails and three kilometers of pristine beach are here to be explored, as well as the orchid garden and butterfly garden.
Bird watching, canopy exploration and ecological tours are specialties here. The bilingual grass roots naturalist guides will help you discover the wonders of the tropical rainforest, such as leaf cutter ants, the sleepy sloths and the nesting site of the common pootoo. On the tours you can experience everything from the rainforest canopy to mangrove swamps or the jungle at night.
Activities at Hacienda Barú include self-guided tours, the Rainforest Experience, a mangrove walk, a twilight hike, tree climbing experience and much more. The Rainforest Zipline Tour, imitates the flight of the chestnut-mandibled toucan, as it leaps off a branch, swoops down through the forest and then up in to another tree. On this tour, 8 separate cable rides take you from one ridge top to another, across valleys and streams. There are 14 land based platforms and 1 tree platform with a view of the coast. It is a great way to see and learn about the tropical rainforest and have fun at the same time.
The mission at the Hacienda Barú National Wildlife Refuge & Lodge is to protect the wildlife habitats, while educating visitors about its biological wealth. Learn more about the history of Hacienda Baru’s evolution from a working cattle ranch to a National Wildlife Refuge & Lodge.
Edge of the World Costa Rica in Dominical is a short drive up from the beach, at over 600 feet in elevation. Here you will enjoy cooler temps, amazing wildlife and breathtaking views of the valley and ocean below. Rental cabins are perched above 180 acres of private jungle, including several seasonal waterfalls, a lagoon, a wide variety of fruit trees, walking trails, birding and more — right on the property!
Areas along the road and around the cabins are very clean and landscaped, but the rest is beautiful, untouched secondary and primary rainforest. Each rental cabin is private, unique and totally enclosed with screens, doors and walls, but they immerse you right into the jungle! Edge of the World Costa Rica offers quiet, rustic, comfortable accommodations perfect for families, couples or solo travelers. All cabins have full kitchens and hot water showers. The main house has WiFi and an invigorating, spring-fed plunge pool.
The sleepy little town of Dominical with its dirt roads is quiet and peaceful, but there are still bars, restaurants and shopping. World renown as a surf mecca, amazing breaks and great beginner beaches are just to the south. Surf lessons, board rentals, tide charts and advice on the best beaches are readily available. With phenomenal beaches a short drive in either direction, sea kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, whale watching and fishing are all available. Other outdoor adventures in the area include hiking, horse-back riding, ziplining, canopy tours, rainforest tours, whitewater rafting, birding and wildlife watching. Many love to discover the swimming holes and waterfalls and going to the places where you won’t find many tourists.
While you are here at Edge of the World Costa Rica, you will also find Spanish classes, yoga and massages locally accessible.