We went to Chirripó, the one and only, the coolest place in all of Costa Rica with our BLUE AMERICAN EXPRESS BAC CREDOMATIC card. We had anticipated this moment for several years, and now we want to share with you our complete experience, from how to book the trip, to where to stay, to all of the equipment needed/clothes/accessories that we car to get to the top of the peak without dying in the process.
How to book here?
How to get there?
Take the inter-American route through Cerro de la Muerte to Pérez Zeledón. Once in PZ, turn left towards San Gerardo de Rivas for another 45 minutes until you reach the park ranger’s office.
*** The day before boarding ***
There are 2 steps to complete before arriving at the hotel:
First, you have to arrive before 4:00 p.m. to register at the SINAC National Park Chirripo office with ID in hand.
Then you have to go to the Eternal Water Consortium Office before 5:00 p.m. (they’re in charge of lodging, food, and luggage). You leave your luggage here and information If you have any luggage you want the muleteers to take up the mountain and also If you have any diet restrictions (if you do not eat meat, lactose intolerant or something … it’s the time to say it)
Eternal Water Consortium:https://waze.com/ul/hd1stceny0
Distance:14.5km to reach the Crestones Base.
What to bring?
Comfortable clothes for the days depending on the number of days, thermal clothes for the night, fleece type coat, waterproof or windproof jacket, headlight, winter gloves, hat, bandana, hat, sunglasses, sunblock, hiking shoes, tennis / crocs to dry at the lodge, snacks for walking (plan 6 servings per day), sandwiches (peanut butter with jelly is amazing), couple of water / beverage bottles, etc … ..
*** If you want to know what we wear, you can see the detail here
Vehicle:High-speed car or truck
P.N. Office Chirripó: firstname.lastname@example.org
Eternal Water Consortium: 2742-5097 email@example.com
Hotel Urán: 2742-5004 firstname.lastname@example.org has parking and you can shower there when you go down.
Total Cost: from ¢ 125,000 to ¢ 150,000 per person (we went 4 days 3 nights with full food and snacks) The first day you arrive at San Gerardo and spend the first night. For the remaining 3 days and 2 nights, we were at the park.
Breakdown of costs
Entrance National Park:₡ 4,000 / day (national) – $ 18 / day (foreigners)
Eternal Waters Consortium:
– Lodging at Crestones Lodge: ₡ 19,207 / nights
– Hostel meals: (You select the ones you want, we went with all included)
Lunch: ₡ 7062
– Luggage upload:
¢ 2086 by Kilo and back downhill they weigh it and charge again.
San Gerardo de Rivas
We arrived at 3:00 p.m. at the SINAC office to check in with the park rangers (DO NOT FORGET YOUR ID), after signing here and talking a bit, we got all pumped up and continued towards Consorcio Aguas Eternas next to the soccer field in order to finish the booking and pay for our food from the hostel, we also had to leave the suitcase here since we wanted the guys to take it up for us (it’s worth it if you want to enjoy more of the place).
After we unloaded everything except our PJs and our daypack for the next day. We went to the place where we spent the night in San Gerardo called Hotel Urán (it is almost in front of the entrance to the path of km 0). When we arrived we had some hot cocoa and took our things to our room to prepare a little for the next few days. Around 7 pm we went down to the restaurant of the hotel for the dinner (which was actually very good) that gave us a boost to climb the Chirri, and then we went to sleep early to wake up the next day.
Day 1: Trek to Base Crestones
The ultimate day arrived, we woke up at 4 am to get ready and go down for breakfast at 5am, a delicious pinto with eggs … at the end, we left 6:15 to the entrance of the trail just 100m from the hotel where we stretch our legs to start with the first km.
It’s an epic 14.5 kilometers, each one has a name and a very defined personality, and it is necessary to walk them calmly to our rhythm in order to enjoy them.
Km 0: The thermometer
This little dude measures our strength, measures us in the cold when we’re all worked up with a steep climb, so do not panic and take it to chill, do not worry if there are people going faster, remember that this is not a competition and you want to Get to the top calm and happy.
Km 1: The Monkeys
At this point, you start getting hot and start removing your sweaters and jackets, and possibly the first drops of sweat begin to go down your forehead and the road continues to be between farms, tends to have mud in winter as the path becomes a river when rainfalls.
Km 2: Row the Machine Cemetery
This section is cool because half of it is flat (compared to the previous km) you begin to walk on the edge of the mountain, on one side you can see cows and other cypress trees mixed with the forest that overlooks a private reserve. So drink water, eat something (without stopping) and gasp for air/strength because coming up is an about a mile of a steep slope.
Km 3: The Jilguero (European goldfinch bird)
This kilometer is all about the shade of the forest, it is quite humid and bears the name of a bird that is common in the area that sounds like a whistle. This is when you start to feel you’re in a wild place, even so, the path is still between private farms but they are already part of the protected area.
Km 4:The Quetzal
Although you’ve been hiking for more than an hour and a half, it is until now that you come across a giant sign that says LIMIT NATIONAL PARK CHIRRIPÓ … this little sign has this crazy effect on your that fills you with energy and excitement so take a drink of water with a snack and keep walking. (We did not see any birds btw)
Km 5: Los Robles
Now you go through a rockier path surrounded by a humid forest of typical tall oaks. You have to be careful to not screw up your ankle as there are slippery parts, and it is common to find the path all messed up since the horses use it to that raise the equipment.
Km 6: The Rualdo
In this section, the slopes push you hard, they tire you down, and the body begins to ask for a decent snack, besides, at this point you’ve already walked 2:30 hrs…. the good thing is that after a huge hill comes to a sign that says “Chespiritos” with some picnic tables … this marks the beginning of a delicious, flat and beautiful kilometer that ends at the coffee and food stand, which means you’re halfway there: ).
Km 7: Llano Bonito (Pretty Grassland)
The cutest … Llano bonito for me starts from the previous kilometer, it’s the best route on the way to Crestones Base … In addition, there is the soda/minimarket, some picnic tables, you can fill up your bottles and eat something *** but don’t take long, If it gets cold it’ll get tough to climb up.***
Km 8: Cuesta del Agua (Hill of water)
For me, this is one of the hardest because you are a bit relaxed from the previous one and then comes. This climb has a constant slope that does not let you rest for a min. I recommend you to go at your own pace, stop to take a breath every time you need and enjoy the views that you have, with luck you can see Cerro Urán on the left side.
Km 9: Old Whiskers
This km takes this name due to the mosses that grow from the trees, this is where more birds appear. The slope is a little steeper than the Cuesta del Agua and the climate is cooler because of the height.
Km 10: Cañuelas
The forest changes, vegetation begins to look smaller and the first rays of sunlight appear. It also changes from moss for a type of small cane that fills the path with leaves like bamboo that disappear in a matter of 400 meters as the super important sign comes to a sight called ‘Monte sin Fe’.
Km 11: Los Quemados (The burned)
It takes this name since all the trees were burned by a forest fire many years ago, at the same time it’s cool to see how nature has managed to get ahead and turn this path into a garden of beautiful flowering shrubs.
Km 12: The Garden
From here, if it is clear, you can see the entire route of the path to the slope of the repentant. The other thing is that if you go between September-October-November they will come across all this but with flowers.
Km 13: Cuesta de Los Arrepentidos (Hill of the Regretful)
The famous and feared Cuesta de Los Arrepentidos … well imagine that you are in a roller coaster where you’re going at a nice pace, it goes up and down relaxed with good impulse where you can even talk to the person next to you and all … until suddenly it goes up and stops, and you here that clack-clack-clack-clack and it brings out the last of our energy. It is very hard, but at the same time exciting, because you know this is the last part and soon you’ll make it. What comes next is flat under the shadow that leads to the departure of the route.
Km 14: The Last Step
At this point, when we are half dead, a sign appeared that said: “Although the steps become slow and the energy becomes fatigued, the primitive instinct, willpower will always remain inside”. Here we take the last impulse that reaches the most incredible sight that exists … The Crestones with a sign that says “Welcome Albergue Crestones”. The excitement of getting here removes any fatigue and fills us with positive energy difficult to explain, so one of them makes a mini-stop to celebrate and then continue to the hostel.
Arrival at Crestones Lodge
When you arrive 2 things happen, the first is the instant smell of food and the second one… you are received by the hostel staff to ask for identification, wristband, and tickets to the park with their respective food tickets. You deliver that and then comes the most anticipated part of the day … hot and delicious food. The meal was an awesome typical dish with chicken, hash, ripe and finger-lick salad.
Once full, we went up to the room where we also took the suitcases that we paid for before and we took a bath (it’s great for the legs). After we rested a bit, until 4 pm, then I decided to go see the sunset at Cerro Ventisqueros with Glori.
To this lookout, we only wore a light coat, wind jacket, headlight, camera, hat, and gloves. This hill is only 3 kms, it is a short and beautiful route …. let’s say you suffer but enjoy yourself because every time you brake to breathe you can look back and see the complete Crestones with Cerro Terbi on the left. The climb goes from being vertical to a constant climb not so steep until suddenly you can see the horizon with the sun above the clouds and on the right side is the famous Cerro Chirripo, the cone of Costa Rica.
Since we were taking so many pictures, we got caught by the night and we did not reach the top of the Ventisqueros, but what really matters is the way so enjoy it, so the mission was satisfactory… After we started freezing to death, we decided to turn on the head light and go down to the lodge again to have a delicious pot of soup with meat.
Day 2 – Sunrise Cerro Chirripó
We got ready to leave at 3 am since it takes almost 2 hours to reach the top. We wore a coat, fleece jacket + windbreaker, head light, gloves, hat, sunblocker, chapstick and for eating we took the lodge breakfast + snack of the hostel, in addition to energetic food + minimum 1 liter of water.
The walk is bearable until you reach the sign of the valle de los conejos (Valley of the Rabbits), the path goes next to the river that crosses the valley. If you are lucky you will see the most starry and perfect sky in the world, you may lose count of shooting stars. There are some stone sections that can be confusing, but you always have to go to the stone mounds placed to be located.
When you get to that intersection of the valley of the rabbits you have to turn left to go to the top, from here the terrain begins to change slowly from flat to steep. The closer you get to the top, the more exciting it is because you get to see the lights of people’s bulbs going up to the top, and this produces a tremendous tingling in the belly that gives the energy to continue to the base of the peak.
From the base to the cone you can easily last half an hour, due to the lack of air and inclination of the road. You take 10 steps and have to stop to take a deep breath for a few seconds. It is not easy, but with everything we have walked to get here, there is no way to back out now. In the last 100 meters, you have to use your hands to climb, but then again, there is this Viking instinct that leads you to climb that last piece with the strength to conquer the top.
The time to get to the top is inexplicable, I think you have to live it, even if you tell it is difficult to describe the combination of emotions. At the top you meet a lot of people with great vibes, they encourage all known and unknown. Little by little the sun begins to rise in the Atlantic just behind the sign on the top, meanwhile, the wind moves with force a Costa Rican flag that makes us feel really proud to live here.
To see the sunrise at the top goes beyond just arriving and doing a check-in a list, this is a challenge for the body and mind, it shows us what we are capable of and that every effort in life has its reward. The sun rises and warms us, begins to discover as a backdrop the mountains, the lakes, the valleys and you can see the shadow of the hill with a perfect silhouette towards Ventisqueros, it is a true spectacle so take your time and keep this epic moment cherished in your heart.
After spending some time here (almost 2 hours) we decided to go down to the Valley of the Rabbits, but not before stopping to do a mini nap/picnic on the stones that are like balconies to the valley. Also, I think it is a mandatory stop to take pictures and breathe deeply.
After crossing the Valley of the rabbits, we continued towards the mountain in front called Cerro Terbi, many people go back to sleep at the shelter or breakfast … we were prepared with enough food to continue walking relaxed until lunchtime. Then after filling up on water on the descent to the Valley of the Rabbits, we went through the sign that we saw at dawn and without deviating we went directly towards Terbi.
In the path, a bridge passes, and from that point, the slope begins to increase little by little until it becomes a wall, we lasted almost 1 hour going up. The clouds began to rise and this had us distressed by not knowing how the weather would be up. In the last 300 meters, you suffer until you get to climb between 2 monstrous stones that reach the top is a tremendous thing, a landscape of incredible rocks with small trees, the sun magically came out so we put on sunscreen (necessary ). We spent about half an hour on the rocks, took photos and walked the stones like an amusement park. The views from the Cerro Terbi are really incredible, personally, it is my favorite place to be during the day.
Then we continued along the top of the stone mountains to reach Crestones. This trail is the coolest because you have views that you do not see anywhere else in the National Park, it is entertaining to walk here, and the journey is quite short.
When you get to the sign of Crestones you have to go to the back to be able to go up to the top and in order to appreciate from the top these unique rock formations and if it is clear you can see the entire shelter below.
In the high part of the stone, we stayed for a while (like 20min) and then we went down to the lodge to have lunch. The descent is a bit tedious, so pay attention to the arrows and the stone mounds. Another tip(it works if it has not rained) is to notice the color of the stones, and where the path is marked with footsteps. We lasted a little over half an hour going down, and when we arrived at the lodge we ate like kings again and then slept and vegetated the rest of the afternoon.
Day 3 – Back to civilization
This day we took it easy, we woke up late at 5:30 am (compared to other days) and we got ready to leave the suitcases that the muleteers would takedown. We had a delicious pinto with egg and after some farewell photos, we started to go down that 14.5 km. We lasted 4 hours going down until we reached the Urán Hotel, where we grabbed the clothes from the car to go bathe and change and then eat something.
***** BONUS! ****
# 1 For Vikings wanting more: There is a cave (old refuge) at the bottom of the Cuesta de Los Arrepentidos, you can climb a 50 meters path to reach the cave
# 2 The Uran Hotel burgers are insane … the Texan one was epic, they are made with homemade meatloaf.