La Amistad Friendship Park — South
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Northeast of San Vito, the Talamancas are protected within La Amistad, which provides splendid options for spotting quetzals, pumas, and other rare wildlife. The Estación Pittier (tel./fax 506/2773-4060), at Progreso, about 30 kilometers northeast of San Vito, has an exhibition room and a mirador, plus basic facilities.
At Sabalito, six kilometers east of San Vito, turn left at the gas station, and left again at Centro Social El Nicoyano, at La Trucha. (There are no signs, so ask.) You can also continue straight past Centro Social El Nicoyano until reaching the police station at Las Mellizas. A left turn here leads to La Amistad Lodge (www.haciendalamistad.com), on a 1,215-hectare coffee farm within Las Tablas Protective Zone. The private wildlife reserve adjoins La Amistad International Park. (4WD is required for the rocky skunk of a road). It was not accepting visitors at last visit, however horseback rides and guided hikes have been offered.
From La Amistad Lodge, a trail leads to the remote Estación Las Tablas. It’s a rugged 10-kilometer hike or trip in 4WD vehicle (conditions permitting); continue uphill from the lodge and take the right fork beyond the gates. You can camp ($6 pp) here, but there are no facilities.
You can also enter La Amistad International Friendship Park via the equally remote Estación La Escuadra ranger station, at Agua Caliente, in the Cotón valley some 30 kilometers northeast of San Vito and reached via the communities of Juntas, Poma, and Santa Elena; a 4WD vehicle is required.
Getting to La Amistad Friendship Park — South
Buses depart San Vito daily for Cotón at 3 P.M., for Progreso and Las Mellizas at 9:30 A.M. and 2 P.M., for Las Tablas at 10:30 A.M. and 3 P.M., and for Santa Elena at 10 A.M. and 4 P.M. Jeep-taxis will run you there in dry season from San Vito (about $75 round-trip).
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Costa Rica, 8th Edition