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From Hone Creek, Highway 36 winds inland through the foothills of the Talamancas and descends to Bribrí, a small town 60 kilometers south of Puerto Limón and the administrative center for the region.
It is surrounded by banana plantations spread out in a flat valley backed by tiers of far-off mountain. The indigenous influence is noticeable.
The paved road ends in Bribrí, but a dirt road leads west through the gorge of the Río Sixaola and the village of Bratsi, where the vistas open up across the Valle de Talamanca surrounded by soaring mountains—a region known as Alta Talamanca.
The United Fruit Company once reigned supreme in the valley, and the history of the region is a sad tale (many of the tribes who opposed destruction of their forests at the turn of the 20th century were hunted and murdered or jailed). You’ll need a 4WD vehicle.
Hotels and Restaurants
In Bribrí, Cabinas El Piculino (tel. 506/2751-0130, $12 pp) has 15 simple rooms, some air-conditioned and with TVs, and all with fans. A soda serves hearty local fare.
In Shiroles, Finca Educativa Indígena ($10 pp, or $133 pp for three days all-inclusive) has a rustic 12-bedroom lodge. At Buena Vista, northeast of Shiroles, ACODEFO (www.sitiviajes.com/red_talamana.html, $72 pp including meals and guided hikes) has a basic two-story A-frame wooden lodge with six rooms, private bathrooms, and solar-generated power. Rates include three meals and a guided excursion to the reserves.
Reserva Indígena Yorkin has a lodge for 15 people.
The rustic Albergue Casacodes (c/o ATEC, tel. 506/2750-0398, www.ateccr.org, $13 pp, $46 pp includes meals and guided tour) mountain lodge is surrounded by rainforest and has six rooms.
Getting to Bribrí
The San José–Limón bus passes through Bribrí en route to Sixaola ($3.50 to Sixaola). Buses depart Limón from opposite Radio Casino on Avenida 4 eight times daily (5 a.m.–6 p.m.).
Buses depart Bribrí for Shiroles at 8 a.m., noon, and 5:30 p.m. daily.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Costa Rica, 8th Edition