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Laguna Manuel & Cerro de la Muerte


By: Qué Buen Lugar

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Cerro de la Muerte has hidden places to enjoy a day in the open air, so this time we were anxious to discover a bit of all that it has to offer and how much you can do in Cordillera of Talamanca, Macizo de la Muerte.

Laguna Don Manuel, Santa María de Dota

How to get there?
Take the South Interamerican highway towards the Cerro de la Muerte (Death Valley), turn right on the El Empalme gas station towards Santa María de Dota 8.1 km until you reach the entrance of the lagoon.

With Waze

Car:Automobile (4 × 4 is not necessary)
Cost:¢ 1500 per person
Time:20 – 30 minutes around the lake

What to bring?
Camera, comfortable clothes, jacket or sweater, tablecloth for picnic and snacks.

The day came to walk and we took the road Florencio del Castillo towards Cartago, we turned right towards the street that leads to Cerro de la Muerte’ for about 45 minutes, passing through the eolic energy farm of Los Santos we arrived at the gas station of Empalme where we turned right again towards Santa María de Dota. The road has some super nice views that make the car ride quite entertaining, but this does not nearly compare to what happens when we arrive at a fantasy place called “Lagoon Manuel”, we have no idea why it is called like this but since the moment we arrived at the entrance we were greeted by a friendly man, so we got a good vibe of the place.

After they charged us one thousand five hundred colones of the entrance, the man told us that there are people that get there on foot, but since the road was in such good condition we decided to drive up, this is about 1.5 km. When we reached the “peak” of the hill we were surprised … yes, there was a lake in the middle of the forest on the top of the hill, and this looked really awesome, to be honest!

One arrives at the edge of the lake by car, you can park wherever you want, there are picnic tables, toilets, and a peace/solitude that you can only experience by being there. In the lake, you can see frogs, wild ducks (not the same kinda ducks you see in La Sabana) and squirrels. Take your time to appreciate the place, climb the trees, walk around the lake, walk in the grass, look for berries, eat an apple and chill out, because this place is really cozy.

After enjoying the lake, we ended up going down to Santa María of Dota, where we drove around and visited the town, this place is known to have the best coffee in Costa Rica.


How to get there?
On the South Interamerican highway, pass the second Chespiritos restaurant, and from there, 25 minutes to the entrance on the right … follow the waze below

With Waze

Car:Automobile (4 × 4 is not necessary)

What to bring?
Camera, comfortable clothes, jacket or sweater, sandwiches and hot chocolate or tea If you want.


After spending the morning in Santa María de Dota, we were getting hungry and our stomachs were growling.. so we decided to go to the 24/7 buffet that never fails, the famous and legendary Chespiritos. At this place we can find all the delights you can think of spread over 10 meters of a bar, you must be careful when choosing what to eat, I recommend to acknowledge the options first, ask around what you don’t recognize and then fill your tray with all the greasy delights.

Once full and happy we started thinking about where to end our Sunday road trip …. mmm, a mystical place, without much hiking, with an epic view, and perfect to vegetate as we like. Karlita showed me a google picture on the hill of death and told me … let’s go here! From pure instinct I remembered that this was a ballast path that goes up the Cerro de La Muerte, so we got into the car and drove about 25 minutes towards that entrance.
On the way, it became foggy making the entrance difficult to see, but in the end, we could distinguish it and after climbing a ballast street we reached the place. We parked and walked about 25m to the edge of the mountain, where we passed some small bushes and tasss! We climbed on some giant stones and enjoyed an epic panoramic view of the Talamanca mountain range, if you’re lucky you can even see the Chirripó and to the right the Pacific Ocean.
To end this great day, we had hot chocolate inside the car, since truthfully It was too cold and we were not prepared for more than 3400 meters, but still ended up having a good time as always.


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