Tag Archives: Costa Rica trails

Costa Rica Adventure Vacations – The Best Mountain Bike Trails

Love mountain biking on your active vacation? Then you’re in luck! With so many options and fantastical landscapes, Costa Rica offers a wealth of brilliant mountain bike trails

If we didn’t know any better, we’d say that Mother Nature designed Costa Rica to satisfy the thrill-seeking needs of those who love adventure vacations. Why else would she have concocted such an exhilarating landscape of vertiginous volcanoes and rolling hills covered in luscious jungles and cloud forests? On Costa Rica mountain biking vacations, your choices are plentiful, whether you’re an experienced pro behind the handlebar or just an enthusiastic beginner.

Here are some of the best mountain biking trails to explore on your next Costa Rica adventure vacation:

Ruta de los Conquistadores

Mountain bike trails mountain biking costa ricaThis mammoth trail is used for the yearly multi-stage mountain bike race that’s considered the first of its kind in the world. Professional bikers head here from every corner of the world to complete in a long and arduous track that crosses rivers, mud tracks and rises and falls sharply over its 250-mile distance.

The NY Times called this the toughest bike race in the world. The route crosses Costa Rica from the Pacific to the Caribbean in the north (from Puntarenas in the west to Limon in the east) and passes through sensational landscapes comprising high-elevation passes, steep valleys, forests and jungles, brimming with wildlife. Before you hyperventilate at the sheer thought of tackling the Route of the Conquerors, however, do note that you need not be an exceptional athlete to enjoy sections of the route. Certain stretches are not only super stunning but also not so difficult for experienced mountain bikers. If you’d like a challenge – but not a colossal trial – keep this one in mind.

Los Senderos de Colon

Over 20 miles comprising dozens of trails make up Los Senderos de Colon, a privately-owned mountain biking estate near Colon, an arty town in the San Jose Province, close to the capital city. With an array of trails suitable for beginners and plenty for experienced riders alike, this park is a fabulous choice for first-time biking vacations. On a single or multiple-day excursion here, you can bike past local farms and discover hidden waterfalls as you follow trails of diverging elevations. Steep climbs, techy trails and sweet downhill sections make this a fab all-rounder. Visit this page for a detailed map of all the trails on offer.

Nicoya Peninsula West Coast Trail

Not an official bike trail but certainly a very titillating itinerary, the Nicoya Peninsula’s western coast offers an incredibly adventurous option to those who wish to tackle a multi-day biking and even multi-activity vacation. Costa Rica’s wild west is a spectacular choice, especially when you’ve got a team of logistical assistants to help! Start from Tamarindo (a convenient starting point) and head south along the dramatic and undulating coastline, riding on dirt tracks and along deserted beaches (keeping your eyes peeled for turtles) and tackling many fantastic river crossings.  The wonderful thing about this coastal stretch is that there quite a few towns strewn along the route so you can extend your bike journey for as long – or as short – as you wish.

Nicoya Peninsula – Jicaral to Montezuma

Addicted to biking the Nicoya? Then don’t stop there! The brilliant route from Montezuma (south-west) to Jicaral (north-east) is a favorite among mountain biking circles and offers a totally different adventure to the coastal trail. It stretches for about 36 miles and boasts half a mile of elevation. It’s a stunning trail that offers a plethora of glorious scenery whilst taking you on dirt roads through the beautiful Nicoya countryside and having enough beach sections to satisfy sea-lovers.

Nosara to Limon – Cross-country Trail

Here’s one that – at least in distance – rivals Los Senderos de Conquistadores. Want to cross Costa Rica from west to east whilst exploring the amazing delights of the Central Valley? Then this amazing 300-mile challenge is for you! Start on the Pacific Coast an enjoy the next week ascending over 2.5 miles through the Guanacaste Province along the shores of Lake Arenal, east to Tabacon and La Fortuna and onwards to Puerto Viejo and south to Limon. Take advantage of trails and secondary roads to keep well away from traffic and enjoy a truly superlative experience, remembering that even doing just a section of it is immensely rewarding.

La Angelina Mountain Bike Park, Cartago

Considered the best single-track route in all of Costa Rica, La Angelina offers a steady climb, sensational switchbacks, superb views and a smooth and steep descent. An excellent workout, an unforgettable day out and superb wilderness to match. Your walking or jogging companions can come along for the wonderful views and for a chance to stretch their legs. There are plenty of trails for them too.

Las Catalinas Bike Trails, Guanacaste

A stunning trail system through the wilderness which frames Las Catalinas – the Pacific Coast’s recently developed hub – offers a kaleidoscope of trails for cyclists and walkers alike. Fabulous coastal views have earned the reserve top marks and it’s often been dubbed ‘the most beautiful mountain biking route in the topics’. There are over 10 miles of track to explore, 90% of which is single-track, all offering breathtaking views across the Pacific Coast. You’ll be surrounded by a flurry of exotic birds and will have to keep your eyes out for wild hogs, coatis and monkeys.

At Costa Rica Rios, we are your mountain biking vacation experts! We’ve been there and cycled that and know just the place for whatever skill-set or desire you may have. Take a look at our Costa Rica Mountain Biking Adventure page and our multi-sport vacation itinerary ideas and note that we create affordable, bespoke itineraries that take the stress out of planning and inject more adrenalin-pumping fun into your once-in-a-lifetime Costa Rica vacation.

Book your mountain biking costa rica adventure vacation today!

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Costa Rica’s Best (Secret) Hiking Trails

Costa Rica hiking trailsWith over 26 national parks and countless reserves spanning the width and breath of the country, Costa Rica’s many hiking trails showcase the immense diversity of the glorious landscape.

From endless stretches of coastal rain forests to high-altitude mountainous terrain, exploring the country on you own two feet is in-arguably the best way to really soak up the splendors. Encounter wildlife, swim under waterfalls and soak in thermal springs as you discover Costa Rica at your own pace.

Whether you’re an experienced hiker looking for a challenging adventure or simply an outdoor enthusiast craving some alone time in pristine nature, Costa Rica offers an impressive array of hiking trails, no matter where you go yet among the seemingly endless well-trodden trails, there are some that still fly way under the tourist radar.

Here are some of our favorite Costa Rica’s Best (Secret) Hiking Trails, perfect for all those who wish to explore the country off the beaten trail:

Braulio Carrillo National Park

Costa Rica hiking trailsIf you happen to be a Costa Rica enthusiast and you’ve never even heard of Braulio Carrillo, don’t despair: you’re not the only one. Hidden in plain view and with a highway that runs straight through the heart of it, this spectacular national park is only steps outside of San Jose and is, in fact, one of the largest reserves in the entire country yet is often overlooked by visitors who head straight to more famous spots like Manuel Antonio.

Well, dear off-the-beaten-trail hiker, that just spells great news for you. With great hiking trails guiding you through luscious primary and secondary rain and cloud forests, Carrillo covers over 44,000 hectares of unspoilt wilderness and boasts a truly impressive diversity of landscapes. From the top of Barva Volcano, some 9500 feet up in the clouds, you’ll soak up all-encompassing views of the Caribbean selva below and will be above all the rivers of the Central Valley which originate here. Home to more than 600 distinct species of wildlife (including jaguars, toucans and tapirs and monkeys) and more than 600 unique trees and plants, Carrillo is revered in Costa Rica for being a pivotal ecological natural haven.

Three ranger stations and a maze of hiking trails could keep you busy here for days on end, just remember to always pack a warm clothing layer as the climate, at high elevations, can be harsh. Including a hike in Braulio Carrillo is very easy when traveling east out of San Jose, into the Limon Province.

Rainmaker Conservation Park

To highlight the fact that some of Costa Rica’s best secret hideouts are literally nestled in plain views, you’ll find this exceptional (and quiet) park merely half an hour’s drive from Manuel Antonio, arguably the most visited park in the country. Ideal for those who are headed in this region but wish to spend a few hours hiking in a more secluded rain forest, Rainmaker offers a leisurely hiking trail through its pristine primary rain forest, which means the trees here have never been cut down.

You may not find as much large wildlife here as you may see in Manuel Antonio (not nearly as many monkeys, for example) but you will encounter swaths of colorful butterflies and poison dart frogs, birds and a flurry of interesting insects. Astonishingly, more than half of the flora and fauna in the whole country can be found here. On a hike through Rainmaker, you’ll cross hanging bridges suspended halfway up the thick rain forest canopy (acrophobia sufferers beware!) and pass several gorgeous waterfalls as you follow the winding path of a river. The main loop requires a moderate level of fitness but if you’re up for the challenge you can tackle the offshoots which head higher up the mountains.  The views from up the top are absolutely sensational and you’d actually be hard-pressed to find better, anywhere in Costa Rica.

Take a photo of the hiking map board near the entrance and design your route to suit your skill level and time constraints. A crisp cold beer from the Perro Vida Brewery right in the park makes for a perfect reward on a hot summer’s day. As usual when hiking in a rain forest, wear good hiking shoes, bring a rain jacket and do wear your swimming costume under your clothes, there are plenty of swimming spots in Rainmaker!

Santa Rosa National Park

A remote park set in Cost Rica’s northwest Guanacaste region, Santa Rosa is usually reserved for experienced hikers looking for an out-there challenge but there is one hiking trail that is accessible for everyone.

Whilst much hiking effort and skill is required to access the furthest reaches of Santa Rosa, many of which are over multiple days, there are a few shorter trails that still offer fantastic hiking experiences whilst meandering through the park. Revered for harbouring one of the last remaining dry tropical forests on our planet, Santa Rosa is home to an array of natural diversity. Its forest boasts different species of monkeys, coatimundis, jaguars and whitetail deer and its secluded beaches are favored nesting sites for Olive Ridley turtles.

There are also excellent SCUBA and snorkeling just a few miles out. Mangroves, evergreen and deciduous forests, marine habitats, savannahs and splendid beaches abound and on a hiking trail through Santa Rosa you can really soak it all in. Whilst some of the beaches are favourite local surfing spots, the sheer number of hiking trails and remoteness of the park means you’ll still see far fewer fellow visitors here.

Reserva Biologica La Marta

Hiking the trails of the La Marta Wildlife Refuge is one of the favorite on-land activities on offer in our whitewater rafting and kayaking tours on the Pacuare River. Both rafters and their non-paddling companions relish the chance to stretch their legs and explore the incredible UNESCO-listed rain forest brimming with sensational wildlife.

As a former mining land – now completely protected for preservation – La Marta offers a little of everything for the curious traveler: historical sites, an astonishing array of unique flora, countless exotic birds as well as pristine streams, a resplendent rain forest canopy and, after ascending to La Mina, the highest point, simply sensational views across the Talamanca Mountains. The 3-mile hike takes about three/four hours and can be completed by just about anyone with a moderate level of fitness and good hiking shoes (the trail can be muddy and slippery at times). Don’t forget the bug spray, wear a long-sleeve top and bring a rain-jacket no matter what time of year you visit. La Marta offers various hiking trails (over 10 miles in total) of varying difficulty, crossing rivers, waterfalls and hanging bridges, and offering great view points along the way.

A great full day excursion out of Turrialba, 2hrs east of San Jose. What we love most about hiking in La Marta is that it’s one of the least visited parks in central Costa Rica so, on some days, you’ll feel like you have this striking place all to yourself.

No matter how many times you’ve visited Costa Rica – or how many years you’ve lived here – there is always something, new, secret and enticing to discover. At CostaRicaRios we love doing just that! So visit our Costa Rica active vacation itinerary ideas to learn all about the active ways you can explore the hidden treasures of our beloved home and contact us for custom tours designed with your most fervent wishes in mind.

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