Planning Your Time
- The Best of Costa Rica
- Costa Rica’s Top Spots for WIldlife
- Costa Rica’s Most Beautiful Beaches
- Costa Rica’s Best Beaches for Wildlife
- Best Surfing Beaches in Costa Rica
- Costa Rica’s Unique Retreats & Resorts
- Surf’s Up in Costa Rica
- Off-The-Beaten-Path Eco-Adventures
- Costa Rica Family-Friendly Adventures
- Adrenaline Rush
The region is linked to San José by the Pan-American Highway (Hwy. 2), which runs south from Cartago, climbs over the Cerro de la Muerte—a daunting and dangerous drive—and descends to San Isidro in the Valle de El General.
South of Buenos Aires, the Pan-American Highway exits the valley via the gorge of the Río Grande de Térraba, linking it with the Golfo Dulce region. Another road transcends the Fila Costeña and links San Isidro de El General with Dominical on the Central Pacific coast.
Travelers seeking virtually unexplored terrain find nirvana in the remote Talamancas, where rugged hiking trails grant access to lightly populated areas teeming with wildlife. Another popular option is the trek up Chirripó, the nation’s highest mountain, enshrined within Chirripó National Park. Even for non-trekkers, the Río Chirripó Valley is a delightful Shangri-la good for bird-watching, and invigorating for its crisp alpine setting.
Some of the best bird-watching is at nearby Los Cusingos Bird Sanctuary, which also has pre-Columbian petroglyphs; and at Las Cruces Biological Station, with well-maintained trails, rivaling anywhere in the country for wildlife-viewing. Las Cruces’s Wilson Botanical Garden is a superlative among tropical gardens, a tonic for your spirits in even the rainiest weather.
Both the Talamanca Reserve and Chirripó Cloudbridge Biological Reserve, near the entrance to Chirripó National Park trailhead, are other fabulous nature reserves with opportunities for great bird-watching, while Durika Biological Reserve—accessed via a daunting mountain drive—will appeal to anyone seeking to experience life on an ecological commune firsthand.
Much of the mountain fastness is incorporated within indigenous reserves, such as Reserva Indígena Boruca, which welcomes visitors. It is also the source of the fantastic carved masks prominent in quality souvenir stores. Tourist facilities are minimal.
Organized activities are minimal, with the exception of white-water rafting on the Ríos Chirripó and General.
Selva Mar (tel. 506/2771-4582, www.exploringcostarica.com) acts as a tour information center and reservation service for the region.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Costa Rica, 8th Edition