Chirripo National Park
From Costa Rica Travel Guide: Vacation and Travel tips
Chirripo National Park
Located in the Talamanca Mountain Range, Chirripo National Park is one of the most beautiful parks in all of Costa Rica. With a more than 8000 ft. change in elevation (from the San Gerardo Station to the peak at Mount Chirripo) vegetation and climate change considerably. It should be noted that temperatures can be below freezing at certain times of the year. A few days in the park and you’ll experience windswept paramos, cloud forests, lakes of glacial origin, rushing rivers, evergreen forests, stunted forests, intrusive rocks and many more sites of great natural beauty. In particular, Mount Chirripo, which is surrounded by several lakes of glacial origin and is also the highest peak in Costa Rica.
The forests in the region are home to several endangered species, such as the harpy eagle, Resplendent Quetzal, cougar, jaguar, tiger cat, margay cat, ocelot, jaguarondi and tapir. These forests are abundant in tree ferns, epiphytes, various kinds of palms and understorey growth. Climbing higher we find ourselves in the wet desert (paramos), a land of stunted, twisted trees associated with gramineous vegetation.
Hiking up to the top of Mount Chirripo is one of Costa Rica's true adventures. Usually, the mornings offer a spectacular view as you can see both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea from the summit. It is possible to hike from the park entrance to the summit and back down in 2 days, it's best to allow 3-4 days for the trip in order to give yourself time to enjoy your hike completely and spend some time on top because that's where the glacier lakes and paramos are. No technical climbing experience is required to reach the peaks in the park, but the trek is approximately 30 miles round trip.
There is a Ranger Station in San Gerardo de Rivas and it is open from 5:00am to 12:00pm. Los Crestones Base camp is outfitted with bunk beds, a cooking area, and cold showers. For reservations (which are required) call 771-5116 in San Isidro de El General, Costa Rica. There is also camping available at the Indian Pass Camping Area located along the Uran Trail.
Getting to Chirripo National Park
• take the Interamerican highway out of San Jose to Cartago
• continue to San Isidro de El General
• from there, take the road that leads to San Gerardo de Rivas