About Chirripo National Park
Chirripó = “Land of Eternal Waters”
Did you know that Chirripó is the tallest peak in Costa Rica? It rises 12,532 feet (3820mtrs) above sea level and covers over 197 square miles (50,900 hectares) in the Talamanca Mountain Range. The steep climb to Base Camp Crestones offers constantly changing flora and fauna, culminating in the stark and beautiful Paramo, formed by the last ice age. Chirripo National Park is part of the Amistad International Park--the largest protected area in Central America.
The Trek: Many of our guests at Casa Mariposa begin the hike to Base Camp Crestones between 5 and 6am. Most hikers can expect the 14.5km ascent to take between 6 and 9 hours. The trail is well-traveled and well marked at each kilometer. Many hikers spend one night at Base Camp Crestones and arise the following morning at 2:30 or 3:00am to complete the 5.1km hike to the summit by sunrise. They then descend the 20 + km to the comforts of Casa Mariposa. The average descent from Base Camp is 5 to 6 hours. Most hikers return to Casa Mariposa between 1 and 3pm. It is also possible to purchase a 2 night pass in order to enjoy the many day hikes, peaks and lakes found in the Paramo. Step-by-Step Guide to Purchasing Chirripo Permits
Occasionally hikers will purchase a one day pass and try to summit and return within the allotted time frame. This is, by all accounts, a very difficult hike that can last between 12 and 26 hours. Because most of the magnificent views begin at the 14km mark, we recommend that hikers who wish to day-hike consider the local free-access options in the area. The reason being that the local hikes (between 2 and 16 km loops) offer abundant wildlife, waterfalls, vistas , pre-montane old-growth and secondary growth, whereas the Chirripo trail is a one-way, steep climb through forest.
The Weather: weather on Chirripo changes constantly because of the influence of Caribbean and Pacific weather systems vying back and forth at the continental divide. Winds can be very strong (and cold!) at the summit. The nights can dip below freezing and the days can warm up to 27 C. January and February traditionally offer the coldest nights, warmest days and driest months of the year. One can expect rain during the afternoon anytime of the year. Prepare for wind, fog, rain, sleet, strong sun. Casa Mariposa's Handy Hikers' Checklist
The hike starts just outside the door of Casa Mariposa. The trail passes through cow pasture and farm lots for 4 km where it crosses the official Park boundary. Here is where the pristine old growth cloud forest begins. A hiking permit is required beyond the 4km point. There is a water stop and a coffee hut 7.5 km. Another fresh water stop is found at 10.5km. The trail is steep and the flora and fauna change rapidly during the ascent. The Páramo begins around 11,155 feet (3,400 meters) —a unique ecosystem found only at high elevations in the tropics. From Chirripó’s base camp, small bushes with thin spiky leaves and lichen rule the scenery.
Base Camp Crestones: he base camp is a large facility with 4 person dormitories, a restaurant facility where hot meals can be purchased, clean drinking water, toilet paper, and freezing cold showers. The solar powered lights are turned off at 8pm. Wifi is available. The Base Camp provides pillow, sheet and blanket/sleep sac with the price of lodging. Meals can be purchased individually or as a pre-arranged package. No cooking is allowed at the lodge but hikers can bring in cold food. Check-in for the Base Camp is 12:00 noon and check-out is 11:00am.
Trails from Crestones Base Camp
There are several hiking trails leading from the Crestones Base Camp:
Crestones Peak: 1.5 kilometers from the lodge. These geomorphological rocks are a Costa Rican icon. Local people say that one of this rocks forms the profile of an indigenous face.
Terbi peak trail: 1.7 kilometers from the lodge this loop trail is often accessed after descending Chirripo, climbs through "las ventanas" rock formation and continues along a high ridge to Crestones peak and then descends to the base camp.
Valle de Los Conejos trail: 2.5 kilometers from the lodge. Glaciel cirque where Talari river originates. The very first lodge was built here in 1965.
Ditkevi lake trail: 3 kilometers north from the lodge. Glaciar lake, 8-12 meters deep.
Ventisqueros peak: 3.1 kilometers west from the lodge. Characterized by having the best panoramic views of the park. Very strong winds.
Sabana de Los Leones trail: 4 kilometers east from the lodge. Valley with good views of General valley.
Morrenas valley trail: 7 kilometers north from the lodge. Views of several glacial lakes. You can spot the ruins of one of the past lodges built in 1975.
Los Lagos valley trail: 5.3 kilometers north of the lodge. 3 glaciar lakes. One of these lakes is the largest natural lake in Costa Rica. 22 meters deep and originates Chirripó Pacífico river.
Chirripó peak trail: This 3820 mtr peak is 5.1 kilometers north of the lodge. On a clear day it offers spectacular views of the Pacific and Caribbean coast lines, Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica and Baru volcano in Panama. From the summit, sunrise can offer a magnificent expanse of colorful clouds. Chirripo is the highest mountain between Guatemala and Colombia.