Your day-by-day itinerary
Arrival in San Gerardo de Rivas
Today you’ll arrive in the tiny village of San Gerardo de Rivas, travelling up into the mountains via the one road which leads here. The village is dotted over a lush green valley, and consists of not much more than a scattering of houses, lodges, a couple of shops and a football pitch. It has a gentle, friendly charm to it though, and serves as a perfect base for the adventure ahead. Your lodge looks out over the valley, and the staff will help you get ready for the trek by driving you to the park office to sign in, drop off any bags for the porters and pick up any last minute supplies. After dinner, it’s time to get an early night…
Into the Mountains
We’d recommend leaving early this morning as you’re more likely to have better trekking weather, and you’ll be dropped at the trailhead by someone from the lodge. The trek to the base camp is around 15km and, aside from a couple of gentler sections, pretty much all uphill. Most people take somewhere between 6-10 hours to reach the camp, and there’s a shelter serving drinks and snacks around halfway, where you can also refill your water bottle.
The trail is really well marked so we don’t provide a guide as standard, but if you’d like a bit of local knowledge and assistance along the way just let us know! You’ll notice the landscape change as you climb through the cloudforest, and the views are truly spectacular at times.
P.S. It’s best to go at a steady pace with regular stops and lots of water – there’s around 2000m elevation gain today, taking you to over 3400m, and some people can feel the effects of that.
When you finally arrive, the base camp will be a sight for sore eyes. The accommodations are simple, with bunk-beds, shared bathrooms and occasional electricity, but you’ll find the staff are friendly, everything is clean, and the meals are plentiful and tasty. The setting more than compensates for the lack of luxury, and we’re not here for luxury anyway. Besides, you’ll sleep anywhere after today’s hike!
There are plenty of trails you can follow, but for most people the one must-do hike is to the country’s highest point, Cerro Chirripo, situated at 3820m and 5km from the lodge. You’ll need to leave at around 3am to catch the sunrise, so you’ll be mostly trekking by torchlight. The final kilometre is a steep incline, but you’ll be rewarded by a stunning view at the top and a sunrise which will likely remain etched in your memory forever. If you’re lucky enough to get a really clear morning, you might even be able to see both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans from here.
Free Time & Descent
After returning to the base camp for some breakfast (and probably a little nap) the rest of your time is free to explore other trails, or relax and mingle with the other trekkers.
You’ll descend back to San Gerardo de Rivas the following morning. The way down usually takes 4-7 hours via the same path that brought you up, although of course it’s a little less strenuous, aside from on your leg muscles! You’ll be picked up at the trailhead and taken back to the comfort of your lodge in the village, where you can relax for the rest of the day.