Hidden in the mountains of Buenos Aires of Puntarenas is the town of Olán “The place where time is forgotten”, it looks like an enchanted forest full of flowers, wooden huts, and trails that lead to giant fig trees, waterfalls and then one very large waterfall.
How to get there?
Florencio Castillo highway towards Cerro de la Muerte, pass through Pérez Zeledón and continue straight to Buenos Aires from Puntarenas, then continue through Los Piñales until the intersection where you have to turn right towards Olán. * Remember that asking takes you anywhere.
Waterfall Las Piletas 8km
Olán Waterfall 15km
What to bring?
comfortable clothes, trail tennis shoes, swimsuit, repellent, sunblock, towel, waterproof jacket, and an excellent attitude. (bring only what you need because you have to walk with your stuff for 2km)
Vehicle:4 × 4 preferable to be high (if you want to get to Olan)
A car arrives in Buenos Aires and you have to get a taxi to Olan.
Olger 8351 5782 there is a bad signal, if he does not answer send text or WhatsApp (patience because he checks his cell 2 times a day so at some point, he answers the messages, but send the message as completely as possible)
Cabins Kamaraci (Buenos Aires) 2730-5222
¢ 39000 includes taxi Buenos Aires Olán
¢ 30000 Arriving in Olán by car
Both packages include 5 meals, lodging in the Olan chapel and tours.
Cabins Kamaraci ¢ 9000 the night
We left from Tavo’s house on a Friday, it was very late, around 7 pm (we cannot always manage to get out of bed early), we had lunch and dinner in the car and we began to cross the Cerro de la Muerte (hill of death). We had scheduled a strategic stop in Buenos Aires to sleep and we arrived at midnight.
The next day there were still 2 hours remaining to get to Olán, the road has spectacular views, you can see part of the Talamanca mountain range, what is not so nice from the street; stone, a 4 × 4 high car is definitely necessary by the way, after 2 hours of walking we arrived at Olan, Karlita’s car fulfilled the task, but at some moments we hesitated since it took some hits (it is 4 × 4 but low).
At Olán, Olger was waiting for us, a local who welcomed us and made us feel like home all weekend, Olger is a hard working fella who works hard during the week and on weekends he makes extra cash from tourism.
We left the car at Mileidy’s house, a neighbor who sells homemade bread and delicious cheese. We were going to stay in the famous “chapel” and that was 2 km away from the main street of Olán and after the storm Nate, the only way to get there was by foot so we had to simplify the number of things that we had and leave some in the car as we walked with the stuff.
On the way Olger told us the story of John Howard, a very spiritual man from England who came to the country 11 years ago and felt “a special connection”, as he describes it, with the place for which he acquired the property and built the chapel and facilities for visits, after a long and complicated odyssey as explained in his book THE PORTAL.
After 2 km of walking, Grettel (Olger’s wife) was waiting for us, with a great breakfast that gave us the energy to finish seeing the place, the scenery is AWESOME, a wooden chapel, with flower gardens around and in between of the mountains: “The chapel in the clouds”. We took our time to learn and understand a little the philosophy of John and the place, it has labels alluding to his ideology that is a protest to the systems of government and religion. Apart from the chapel, there’s a “graveyard of the living” quite interesting as it has tombs of political figures from England and the US that are not liked by him. Overall the place is very cool because it is like a mini village with a library, dining room, little cabins, a gazebo, the chapels. It is very cozy and crazy at the same time, quite an experience.
After getting to know well this mini-town, we went to do the first walk of the day that consisted of seeing two trees, a GIANT HIGUERON and another very hollow ficus that scraped all of us. We did this hike within a couple of hours. You go among the forest which makes it mystical. On the way back we ate a quick lunch to get some energy because we expected the second walk of the day (we’re wild and we like to do everything all at once) to a waterfall called las Piletas, it was 8km in total and it was already getting late so we moved our behinds to be able to make it back before dark. The 2 waterfalls were nice, tiny but nice. In the second one, Karlita and Tavo were courageous with the water. It was freezing so they quickly got out. In the end we arrived at around 6pm just in time for supper and a good night sleep in the middle of the mountains.
The next day we had a good breakfast at 5:30 am because the hardest trek was waiting for us, towards the Olan waterfall, a very hard 3-hour hike there and 3 hours back with incredible landscapes, Olger was guiding us, describing and pointing the mountain that we were going to have to go up and down eventually to get to the waterfall, we really did not expect it to be so hard but oh well, we survived and we’re here to tell the story. In some parts, we had to climb on all four and other times we had to hike down like mad people, which involves steep slopes fast with short steps to avoid falling on your face, like always it was worth to see the 85m high waterfall, definitely the coolest. The water was even colder and there was no pool so we did not get in, we stayed chilling, eating and enjoying the sight for 45 minutes because it was worth it.
On our way back, Olger was showing us the Tuluk valley that looked distant but interesting, a whole separate walk to do on another visit for sure, but even Olger made this face when he was describing how hard the hike is. It was already Sunday afternoon, we had to return to the reality of Monday at our jobs and leave Olán, a fairytale town that we got to see for two days but clearly have to come back to.
DATE OF WALK: February 2018