Costa Rica
Hiking in Costa Rica

Rainforest Hiking

No trip to Costa Rica is complete without visiting its most noted feature -- rainforest! The lush, natural beauty is what makes Costa Rica such an appealing destination. Serious trekkers are not disappointed in the country considered a backpacker's paradise. But with the explosion of eco-tourism in Costa Rica, exploring the rainforest is more accessible than it ever has been (even allowing those in wheelchairs to experience the rainforest canopy). The majority of hiking trails are of reasonable length and not strenuous.

Our best recommendations for rainforest hiking are:

  • Hike in the early morning when it is cool. In addition, the birds and animals are more active, making sightings more likely.
  • Be prepared. Wear appropriate clothing. We recommend closed-toed shoes, layered clothing and a lightweight poncho for the advent of rain. Sunscreen is important as you are closer to the equator. Hydration is also key to counteract high levels of heat and humidity (in some locations).
  • Experience at least one guided hike. A guide knows what to look for and where to find it. Having a guide makes the difference between just another walk in the woods and understanding the environment around you. The guides we book are experienced, professional and reliable.
  • If you are going on a self-guided hike, stay on the designated trails. It is easy to become disoriented in dense vegetation. In addition, there are plants and animals which can be very dangerous if encountered in the wrong way.

People of all ages and interests can hike through the rainforest. The difficulty of the hike depends on several factors, including altitude, incline, season, and temperature. Trails within national parks usually require an entrance fee. Many hotels and resorts have free trails on their property. Some private reserves or attractions charge a fee but offer groomed trails, trail identification markers, incredible scenic scapes and unique suspension bridges. Hiking is traditionally a free to low cost activity, causing some travelers to avoid locations with fees. With vacation time as your most precious asset, do not overlook a great, paid experience with a marginal free one. Let us help you determine what hike is best for you.

Rainforest Hikes
View of Arenal Lake
Arenal Volcano Hike

Arenal Volcano offers several excellent rainforest hikes.  Hiking on the volcano is prohibited and extremely dangerous.  But the rainforest right around the volcano offers excellent wildlife and volcano viewing.  Experience the volcano's power and majesty up close.  Learn about the history of the volcano and the region in detail.  Enjoy spectacular vistas of Lake Arenal and the surrounding area.  Guided hikes at Arenal are some of our favorites.

Arenal Hanging Bridges
Arenal Hanging Bridges

Arenal Hanging Bridges features trails and suspension bridges in the rainforest near Arenal Volcano.  Groomed trails are punctuated by suspension bridges over rainforest valleys and gorgeous views of the volcano.  See the rainforest canopy and the tops of the trees from above.  This location is primarily a self-guided hiking tour, although guides are available.

Carara National Park Hike
Carara National Park

Carara National Park features a transitional rainforest between the Dry Tropical Forest to the North and the Tropical Rainforest to the South.  Carara offers amazing biodiversity and the largest concentration of Scarlet Macaws in Costa Rica.  Carara is convenient and next to the Tarcoles River, which is famous for its large population of huge crocodiles.  Carara was recently voted as the best place in Costa Rica for birdwatching.  Guided hikes begin early because it gets hot by mid-morning. Carara's advantages are that it is centrally located, near the beach and less congested than Manuel Antonio National Park.

Monteverde Hike

Monteverde is famous for its Cloud Forest Reserves: Santa Elena and Monteverde.   Cloud Forests are high in the mountains and feature unique species and clouds rolling in and out of the forest.  Enjoy an early morning hike or a very unique night hike to see the amazing variety of nocturnal insects and wildlife. It is suprising to have dry, dusty ground with abundant green vegetation above. Given the remote location with difficult access, visiting Monteverde is not for everyone. There are easier ways to experience cloudforest in Costa Rica.

Corcovado National Park
Experience one of the most "Biologically intense places on Earth".  Corcovado is on the Osa Peninsula on the South Pacific Coast.  It is an isolated Tropical Rainforest wilderness and features an astonishing variety of plant, animal and insect species.   Hikes tend to be longer and more physically challenging with trailheads accessed by boat.  Guides are essential in Corcovado and you should spend 3-4 nights in this region to properly experience it.  We'll help you with this more logistically challenging experience.
La Paz Waterfall Gardens
La Paz Waterfall Gardens

La Paz Waterfall Gardens offers guided or self-guided hikes in a spectacular Cloud Forest reserve.  Trails along the river and waterfalls are very dramatic, well-maintained and stunningly beautiful.  A longer but less-used trail meanders through the forest and features an amazing variety of ferns, epiphytes and moss.  La Paz is convenient, easy and one of our favorites places in Costa Rica for hiking.  We'll help you determine the best way to visit La Paz. In addition to the rainforest trails, La Paz has an aviary, serpentarium, jungle cat and frog exhibits and butterfly pavilion.