Insider Secrets: Top Places for Year-Round Hiking and Rappelling in Costa Rica
Hailed as an adventure traveler’s haven, Costa Rica’s vast mountains, unspoiled rain forests and active volcanoes provide the ideal playground for millions of thrill seekers who visit the country annually. From hidden gems to popular spots, adventure travel expert and environmentalist Rafael Gallo shares some of the best hiking and rappelling sites in the Central American nation.
Exploring the heights above…
Adventurous souls looking for a height-defying, adrenaline-pumping activity should look no further than rappelling. According to Gallo, one of the top places to rappel in the country is the Catarata del Toro. In fact, a day trip to this hidden gem is a must for those visiting the nearby Poas Volcano.
“The Toro Falls should be a top priority for any traveler who wants to feel the rush of rappelling down one of the most breathtaking waterfalls in our country,” said Gallo.
Located in the town of Bajos del Toro (Central Highlands), travelers visiting the Toro Falls will have the opportunity to view a plethora of vibrant rocks, ferns, moss and wildlife.
“Thrill seekers can rappel down a 300 foot drop, which falls down an extinct volcanic crater. It doesn’t get any better than that!” said Gallo.
For those who want to rappel above water in an off-the-beaten-path location, a visit to Wake-up Falls in the Pacuare River is a must. Located on Costa Rica's Caribbean slope, the Pacuare River borders the Talamanca mountain range. One of Costa Rica’s most scenic rivers, the Pacuare spans some of the country's most diverse terrains, passing through a densely vegetated rainforest. This tropical environment is home to sloths, monkeys, toucans, parrots, morpho butterflies and colorful frogs, among others.
Thrill seekers can reach the Wake-up Falls by rafting down the Pacuare and can also explore the rainforest walking through scenic trails and bridges.
What makes this place so special? “Travelers can have the opportunity to rappel 196 feet down the face of the waterfall with four different sections encounters. The last leg is inside the waterfall, allowing adventure seekers the opportunity to cool off,” said Gallo.
Daredevils will find rappelling in Costa Rica Rica’s highest peak to be right up their alley. Gallo recommends a visit to Cerro Chirripo at Chirripo National Park, south of San Jose.
“Rappelling down the Chirripó gets the adrenaline pumping, quickly. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart!” said Gallo. “Here you are at an altitude of over 12.532 feet above sea level – on one side is the Pacific Ocean and on the other is the Caribbean Sea. You feel like you are on top of Costa Rica.”
Exploring on foot…
Travelers will find numerous opportunities to explore Costa Rica’s natural beauty on foot. Holding five percent of the world’s biodiversity, the country is not short on fauna and flora. Some of this biodiversity can be best explored on the Talamanca mountain range, which lies on the border between Costa Rica and Panama.
“The Talamanca mountain range provides hikers with the opportunity to view a variety of flora and fauna, including over 260 species of amphibians and reptiles and about 400 bird species,” said Gallo. “The best time of day to visit the area is during the early morning, as hikers will have the opportunity to view wildlife at its best.”
For those who prefer volcano hiking, Gallo recommends the Tenorio and Miravalles volcano area, which is located in the northern highland, along Guanacaste’s eastern border. Although both volcanoes are dormant, the area thrives with lush forest teeming with exotic fauna, as well as thermal hot springs and waterfalls. The Miravalles Volcano can be reached by hiking with an experienced guide, as there are no well-defined trails. The most popular area in the park is Las Hornellas, where fumaroles can be observed. The Tenorio Volcano National Park features some of Costa Rica’s most beautiful waterfalls and natural hot springs.
“Volcanic chemical reactions allow for a unique phenomenon that turns clear water into a spectacular light blue hue,” said Gallo.
According to Gallo, those looking for a challenging hike should pay a visit to the Corcovado National Park located in the Osa Peninsula. Corcovado National Park was named one of the most biologically intense places on earth by National Geographic. The area is home to thousands of plant and animal species that thrive from its soil and water. Among the many types of animals that can be seen in Corcovado are hundreds of species of birds, reptiles and mammals. Nearly a dozen walking trails allow visitors to explore the park’s wonders up-close.
“It is one thing to see a monkey or a toucan on television or on the Internet and it is a completely different experience to see it in person. Hear it howl! Hear it sing! It’s something to be treasured for a lifetime,” said Gallo.
For more information on Costa Rica, visit www.visitcostarica.com