About a year or so ago I taught a Spanish class here at work. One of the guys that came to that class was from Costa Rica and talking about hiking and outdoor activities, he recommended me to visit Cerro Chirripo if I ever went to Costa Rica. Talking about best times to do it, he mentioned end of February – beginning of March is usually the best time as it doesn’t rain as much. As I always do, I took note of all that info and saved it. Lucky me, this year I had to go to Costa Rica for work and it was by the end of February. So with some planning I took a couple days of to head to Cerro Chirripo with the original intention of backpacking three days and summiting the mountain. While planning I learned that they issue about 40 permits per day. 30 of those can be reserved and the rest are first come - first served. Unfortunately my planning was late so I didn’t get to reserve in advanced. Still, being adventurous (and hopeful) I decided to try my luck and head south to San Gerardo Rivas and try my luck. The worst that could happen was that I was going to spend a couple of days hiking in the area. With that in mind I did some research and learned about the Cloudbridge Reserve, a privately protected area adjacent to Cerro Chirripo National Park. So after my work was done in San Jose, early on Friday morning I got on a bus to San Isidro del General and from there I took a 4x4 taxi to San Gerardo. My first stop there was at the ranger station to check for tickets for Cerro Chirripo. I was told they had 8 tickets available for Sunday but that to get those, I would have to get to the park office very early or even consider sleeping outside. That afternoon I checked at the Hostel, had dinner and went to sleep early to have a really early start.
The following day I woke up at 3AM, got dressed and hiked about a mile down to the park offices were I found a group of people already waiting. I was told then that my chances were not very good but I decided to stay and see. While waiting one girl left which increased my chances just a bit and then, about half an hour before the office opened, another couple left. Long story short, I got in and got one of the last permits for Sunday. I was stocked. One of the guys there gave me a ride back up to the Hostel and after breakfast (and a little bit of celebration) I got ready and went out to explore the Cloudbridge Reserve
|Cerro Chirripo trailhead|
|Mountain Trail... can you see it?|
|The Quetzal trail|
Coming down from there was an adventure in itself. The whole time I was waiting for Tarzan or some monkey to swing by. It didn’t happen, but that gives you an idea of how it was. Finally down I had a couple smaller loops to do. The first one was the river trail which doesn’t go close enough to the river even though you can hear it all the time. At some point I passed a viewpoint for Cloudbridge waterfall and noticed a side trail that probably went there. I did explore a bit but was not able to get closer. Then thunder stroke. I didn’t know if we had chances of rain or not but that sound was enough for me to start thinking about speeding my pace a bit. I got to a clearing were I could see the entire valley and noticed that, even though I was still hearing thunder in the distance, the clouds didn’t look too menacing. So, instead of going straight down, I took the waterfalls trail to complete the loop. This trail is very easy and short and goes thru three or four waterfalls.
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