The Chirripo Mountain is the tallest Peak in Costa Rica. After walking about 14 km uphill (you better be trained or ready for it), you start to see a completely different and unique ecosystem, passing from the tropical rainforest green vegetation, to one with lighter colours like yellow and brownish… and yet, you can feel the place is so much alive! You start to feel like you are in a completely different country, its a different temperature, different scenery and different topography, it is so refreshing! The last 2 km (17km later), you start climbing the last peak and then you are there, 3820 m (12,533 ft) over the sea level, the tallest place in the country. It feels so satisfying! And if you walk in the early morning, and you get there before the sunrise, find a nice spot looking towards the Chirripo National Park Sign and wait to see one of the most amazing sunrises of your life!
General Useful Information
- This is an advance hike because the 14-20 km are completely uphill
- There are three different seasons to hike up, the rainy season (April-Oct), where you will see more colours, bright funghi, small waterfalls, etc. The dry season (March-April and Nov-Dic) is when you see everything more dry of course, but its good because you have less possibilities of rain; and a cold season (January-Feb), where you can see ice structures, “frost” and since it is the most different, my favourite time to climb up.
- In total, you walk 14 km to the hotel, and about 20 km to the peak. You can do it all in one day, but if you want to enjoy it better and walk around the area, its better to stay at the hotel at least one night.
- To stay at the hotel you have to plan ahead. You have to reserve at least 3 months prior to the hike.
- You can manage to go up without training, going at your own pace, but it is gonna to be more enjoyable if you prepare for it, and that way you can also take another hike to Ventisqueros for the sunset, or Crestones just for the view.
- There is a rest area or how I like to call it, a “Pit Stop”, on the 7th Km. You can rest and buy drinks or food there. Also, this is the only flat km in the entire walk till the hotel.
- To go up, you need to buy the park’s entrance and they sell it from 8 to 4:30 pm (and is closed from 12 to 1 pm).
- There entrance is $18 for visitors
How to make the walk lighter
- The first thing you should think of, is finding someone that can keep up your pace, or just walk by yourself. Keeping a constant rhythm will help your breath and resistance. So walk constantly from the beginning till the end and try not to stop because in the end, that will get you more tired.
- Don’t wear jeans… that is too heavy and uncomfortable for walking. Consider wearing Columbia clothing (or something similar) since it is fresh and comfortable.
- Light shoes are your best choice (no “burros”). Just make sure they are good for walking (nice grip and comfortable)
- In general, avoid carrying much weight. Try to take only the vital stuff, like a camel bag, and energy snacks.
- Even if its cold at the beginning, once you start walking you will heat up, so don’t carry too much layers with you.
- The 13-14 km are the tougher, to the point they are called “The regretful”. To make it lighter, try to be there before the sun is too high (so its colder).
- The best time to start walking is 2-3 am. Bring a head light and you will be okay.
- If you want to drink Gatorade, buy the one that is a powder and fill your camel bag with it!
- Hiking sticks can be of great help, specially on the way up. If you don’t want to carry them on your trip, or you don’t want to spend much money buying them, you can always buy two broom sticks and they will do the task (if you are not too tall).
If you are staying at the hostel
- The best thing you can do is book with a tour company so they will have everything ready for you, including reserving the hotel and the food. This tours usually start one day prior to the walk because you have to buy the park’s entrance and register at the hotel prior to going up. So, you will probably sleep at Hotel El Uran before the hike. If so, consider bringing one backpack you can leave there while you are up. This means you don’t have to carry the clothes you used the day before hiking, and you can leave fresh clothes for the day you go down (and you can take a bath there).
- The day before the hike, you can leave your luggage with a company that will take it up for you (to lighten your walk). They charge about $5 per kg, so in order to save some bucks, take up only what is really necessary, and use a sack instead of a backpack to do so (the are really light so you won’t be paying much for the bag itself).
- The hotel will offer a sleeping bag or two blankets. If you can carry a compact sleeping bag, the blankets are the best choice, if not, the sleeping bag is okay. Keep in mind there is no air conditioning system so it is usually cold.
- The water for showering is literally freezing cold! So, shower as soon as you arrive while you are still warm or it will be a nightmare. Some people recommend taking baby wipes to avoid showering, and just clean yourself with that. To be honest, it is not a bad idea, but the first day, after the 14 km… you will need the shower and its better for the circulatory system.
- If you are showering, make sure you bring your own soap, shampoo (if you are brave enough) and towel.
- Bring a lock to keep your luggage safe because rooms are shared like in a hostel.
- The hostel offers tons of food, so don’t worry about not feeling full or carrying extra food (it won’t be necessary). Maybe some energy snacks for the hikes.
Essentials to carry
- Remember to carry sunscreen or a hat, chapstick and sunglasses!
- Don’t carry to much clothes, but enough because you will sweat. The reason I say this is because the weight of the clothes will affect you if you carry it, or even if you send it with the muleteers, because it will cost you money.
- Take two pairs of shoes, one to do the hikes, and the other to stay at the hostel (try to bring the most comfortable pair you have because your feet will be tired)
- Consider bringing some bandage in case you get blisters.
- It is better to train so that you can enhoy your time up, and go visit some of the amazing places that are up there besides the peak.
- Ventisqueros is the best place to see the sunset (but it is also the strongest (hardest) walk.
- Crestones is a great walk to perform after descending from the Chirripo Peak (it is what you see in front of the hostel.
- The Dikevi Lagoon is a 1km detour from the Chirripo Peak walk and a beautiful place, so you better take it, before of after climbing it!
- Internet doesn’t work well, same applies to cell reception.
- Try getting to the peak before the sunrise and see it there
- If the day is nice, you can see the sea from the peak!