The Best Places To Hike In Southern Costa Rica
Southern Costa Rica’s overflowing wilderness and rich biodiversity make it the perfect place to hike, explore, and get lost in a myriad of stunning natural scenes. Brimming with waterfalls, macaws, and monkeys, Southern Costa Rica’s diverse topography allows mountainous terrain to ride right along beautiful beaches. There’s much to explore in this area of Costa Rica, but to get you started on your next adventure, we’ve narrowed down the top 4 places for hiking in Southern Costa Rica.
Chirripó National Park
Miles upon miles of trails wind through this beautiful natural park, but the real attraction is its status as the highest peak in all of Costa Rica, second highest in all of Central America. After 11 miles of hiking, if you’re adventurous enough to reach the 12,530 foot-high summit, you’ll be encapsulated by the clouds with a view of both the pacific and Caribbean sea and the country that rides between. It’s an unbelievable experience, to say the least. Just make sure to bring your sweater–the summit of the Cerro Chirripó holds the record as the coldest spot in all of Costa Rica.
We recommend making a trip out of it by planning an overnight camping excursion, and if possible, waking up bright and early to make the final summit in time to witness the sunrise. You can camp overnight at the Crestones Base Camp, but reservations must be made in advance. All reservations, including your entrance, must be made through the headquarters via phone by calling 506-2742-5083. Be mindful that only 60 climbers are allowed per day, and spots sell quickly.
Hiking all the way to the summit is challenging, but doable. Be prepared for a little difficulty and enjoy the journey–every crevice offers much to be seen and explored!
Quebradas Biological Reserve
This Biological Reserve is located just 10 minutes from San Isidro Del General. It’s a little-known spot with over 4km of trails that wind up an 8,000 ft. mountain spotted with waterfalls perfect for swimming. The biological reserve is known for it’s incredible butterfly garden and constant hosting of community events.
The Biological Reserve is located in Quebradas, a picturesque Tico town surrounded by rolling hills and mountains. The Rio Quebradas runs through the Biological Reserve and the rest of the town. Its ultra clean water–some of the purest in all of Costa Rica–provides drinking water to the community and nearby towns, including San Isidro. This area is known for its diverse bird population, with over 200 species of birds to be seen, including, the elusive Quetzal bird, who occasionally makes an appearance.
The Quebradas Biological Reserve has several different trails of varying intensity and altitude. You can easily spend 4 or 5 hours just meandering through this peaceful place. A few of the highest stretches of trail are physically challenging, but by and far, most anyone can complete the hike with ease.
Manuel Antonio National Park
Reaching over land and sea, the Manuel Antonio National Park consists of 680 hectares, making it the smallest of Costa Rica’s national parks. But, don’t let the size fool you. This national park’s pristine beaches rank among the top ten in the world, and its rainforest remains as one of the few places left to see the rare squirrel monkey.
There are five different hiking trails within the park, with the highest peak being Punta Catedral between Playa Espadilla Sur and Playa Manuel Antonio. Most of the trails are easy to navigate and short in distance. Monkeys abound through this area, and you will likely see swarms of White-Faced Capuchin monkeys, a remarkably intelligent species. It’s also possible to see both two and three-toed sloths, raccoons, and iguanas, along with over 100 different species of mammals and nearly 200 different species of birds.
You can choose to hike solo, or enlist a guide for an overall educational experience. Trail maps can be found at the entrance when you pay your admission ($16 per person.) Just as before, a limited number of 600 people are permitted into the park each day so try to arrive as early as possible. You won’t have much problem securing a spot if you come during the low season, May through November, but the park is one of the most popular tourist destinations, creating a different scenario during the high season between December and April. The park is open Tuesday through Sunday from 7 am to 4 pm. You can call the park’s office at 2777-5185.
Corcovado national park
Another biologically-packed National Park, yet far more remote, Corcovado is perfect for adventure-seekers up for a little challenge. Hiking through this park is difficult in the sense that it’s hard to reach, and can be physically demanding. It’s now required to have a professional guide with you, which is probably a good idea, considering it would be easy to get lost in this untouched jungle.
That being said, Corcovado’s raw beauty is the exact thing that makes it so attractive. It’s possible to see more wildlife during a single hike than weeks, or even months, of being in Costa Rica.
It’s recommended to spend a least a couple days on this excursion. The hikes are lengthy, and you can’t even reach the starting point without a pre-hike, or boat/plane ride. Lodging is available in La Sirena, a ranger station, in the form of dorms and campgrounds.
When it’s all said and done, hiking through the Corcovado National Park is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This wild jungle is unparalleled, rightfully claiming a spot among the most biodiverse areas in all the world.
If one wants to experience true Costa Rica, she will be found in the interiors of her jungles and mountains where natural beauty is untouched and wildlife abounds.
Have you been hiking through any of these areas? Have another hiking spot you think should be added to the list? Share your thoughts in the comments below!