Like clockwork Marcos and I met at 7am outside my hotel for our third hiking and nature excursion. We set off to the city of Cartago about a 80 minute drive east from San Jose to a national park on its perimeter on the offside of the Irazu volcano and a walk around it called Cabeza de Vaca. On the way we took an unexpected detour which required Marcos to provide another fine display of off road driving that even Top Gear would’ve been proud to show.
We arrived in good time and set off at 9:00am. What can I say about this one? Well of the first 5.2 km’s it was fresh and abundant proper Costa Rican forest resplendent with humming birds, loads of varieties of plants, trees, moss in different micro climates. The featured image of this post shows some of the kinds massive prehistoric plants I saw. There were some really close encounters with beautiful flowers and amazing trees. It was a different scene compared to the last two days in terms of the scale of the what I saw. I mean you see from the picture Marcos is dwarfed. Later in the hike I saw trees that seemed as tall as sky scrapers. Super impressive!
The second half of the walk was surprising! The second half was a bit under whelming because the path went through grazing cattle lands leading to rows of pine trees like we were anywhere else but Costa Rica. Pine trees are not native to Costa Rica and the experience of seeing them dominate vast areas of the park was surprising. Not only that, the weather is surprising too, the clouds and mist come up to the 10,000 feet of the hike unexpectedly and one moment the views are incredible the next moment it’s like gray soup.
Good news though, the park is easy to get to, it has lots of interesting trails inside it, there’s plenty to interest everyone. The longest hike is 10.4km and will make you out of puff in some areas and feel accomplished at the end. There are modest cute concessions, well kept washrooms and there’s easy access points in the park to all the well marked trails in it. Park staff and other hikers are friendly and easy going. You could spend a good day out exploring all the park has to offer. If I was to come here again, I’d explore even more, bring a proper picnic and take things even slower because that’s the vibe of the place.