Chirripo National Park
Costa Rica’s highest peak: Mount Chirripo! Chirripó National Park is part of the Talamanca mountain range, and more precisely belongs to the páramo (neotropical biotope) of this mountain chain.
Dominated by Mount Chirripó at 3820 metres (Costa Rica’s highest peak), the park boasts 5 major geological zones: the Sabana de Los Leones (Lion Savannah), el Valle de los Conejos (Rabbit Valley), el Cerro Chirripó (Mount Chirripo), el Valle de las Morrenas (Moraine Valley) and el Valle de Los Lagos (Lake Valley). Moraines, trough valleys and glacial cirques bear witness to the geography of 25,000 years ago.
Weather conditions in the park are highly variable and unpredictable, depending on altitude. In general, it is very wet between May and December and becomes very dry and sunny from January to April. The highest parts are subject to strong winds, frosts, rain showers and frequent temperature changes. The lowest recorded temperature was 48 °F (9 degrees Celsius).
There is a wide variety of scenery before you reach the summit. The páramo, with its stunted vegetation of shrubs and grasses, gives way to the cold, damp cloud forest, where oaks reign supreme. It’s not uncommon to come across peccaries, squirrels, mountain lions, rabbits, coyotes, toads, frogs, and a variety of birds such as finches, hummingbirds, flycatchers, nuthatches, warblers, escarcheras and the quetzal, sacred bird of the Incas. Less common, but still present, are jaguars and tapirs.
The ascent of Chirripo
The main attraction of this park is, of course, the climb to the summit. Although it’s not an Alpine-type high mountain, you’ll need to be in good physical condition and accustomed to medium to difficult treks. Excursions are guided and you’ll be provided with your own rucksack. You’ll discover varied landscapes rich in biodiversity, but the effort will be rewarded by fabulous scenery.
It’s best to book in advance, as places are limited and entry to the park is restricted.
3 nights minimum, ideally 4 nights, ideal from December to May
- Day 1: overnight in San Gérardo de Rivas.
- Day 2: first day’s walk (7 hours – 14 km). Arrival at the lodge.
- Day 3: second day: hike to the summit – magical views from the Pacific to the Caribbean and cloud forests. The sunsets are exceptional. Second night at the lodge (7 hours – 14 km) or return to San Gerardo de Rivas (12 hours – 24 km) in the 3-night version.
- Day 4: Return to San Gerardo de Rivas (approx. 5 hours).