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Memorable hike in the Talamanca Mountains

Get to know a hike that takes 4 days over 50 kilometres and leads you through very old forests full of magic. In the Talamanca mountain range, there are a lot of them.

From San José to Cerro de la Muerte

I looked out of the window while the car made a transition from the noisy, hustle and bustle city of San José with its motorcycles, cars, buses, bicycles, traffic lights, houses, pirouettes, people talking, music and other images and sounds of the city to make our way to a majestic place. Further away from the city, the road is framed with evergreen trees, the multicoloured houses disappear, the cars and the sounds of nature predominate. Our destination: Cerro Bella Vista, better known as "Cerro de la Muerte", the goal: a 4-day trek through the mountains full of determination and amazement in order to connect ourselves with the inner being. Will you join me during this journey through the Talamanca mountain range?

Cerro Buenavista, Photo by Pedro

From Bella Vista to San Gerardo

We begin our adventure from Cerro Buena Vista, more commonly called the "Cerro de la Muerte" ready for unforgettable days. We breathe deeply, feeling the fresh mountain air before taking the step towards a walk of around 10Km. At an altitude, slightly higher, than 3´400 masl, we appreciate the great view formed by the different mountains and we could observe our goal at the distance.
This walk is mostly going down. We are in one of the highest hills of the Interamericana, so it is a fact that the only way will be down. Prepare your calves for what is coming.

Initially, it is a very steep descent, many rocks on the road and a lot of balance are required so you won´t slip. Here we have a dwarf forest and paramo type vegetation. Further in, the path is dirt and as you continue your journey, there are different ecosystems that, thanks to the difference in height, make this trail a very diverse trip. The premontane and montane forests are on today's list, as the trees progress they are increasingly tall and leafy. There is a sector where the trees are full of "golden wool" which, when in contact with sunlight, is truly appreciated as gold. Once down, the path of Buena Vista converges with trails from the Savegre Lodge private reserve to end up on the Los Robles trail that takes us to this hotel.
On the way, we could stop to admire the beauty of a huge Centennial Oak tree in the middle of the forest.

Lana de Oro, Photo by Pedro

Fern, Photo by Ave

After a walk of around 5 hours and an elevation of 2´200msnm, it is time to eat something that warms our bodies and fills our souls. Now to prepare for what's coming tomorrow! If you still have the energy to keep walking, the reserve has even more trails to discover. Also in the gardens of this hotel, you can take a walk to birch or enjoy the spa services to avoid any leg cramps.



Cerro de la Muerte, why this particular name?

It obtained this name since, in the past, the trip by the mountain chain took several days either on foot or by horse and, as this is the highest point of the inter-American highway, many travellers lost their life due to the cold and the rain. But don´t worry, now the access is much easier thanks to the road.

Lodging options in San Gerardo de Dota

There are several options to stay in this destination; within them, I can recommend:

Savegre Lodge, Sueños del Bosque, Hotel Suria & Trogón Lodge.

Each one with its own beauty. They have very beautiful architecture that merges with the environment. These are mountain lodges prepared to welcome travellers and give them a warm welcome.

Savegre, Photo by Pedro


The Savegre Lodge has a spa available, if you want to pamper yourself, today is the day to enjoy a massage, sauna or just enjoy the jacuzzi. For bird lovers, this area is spectacular for sighting these beautiful creatures. If you get up early you can admire them during their morning tasks.

Route San Gerardo de Dota - Providencia

After a “yodito” (Costa Rican coffee) we are ready very early for today´s experience. Well-tied shoes (preferable against water), a knife, some food for the road and water, are the main elements for a hiker.  But if we go to this area with exuberant nature and a lot of vegetation, our local guide Adrian tells us, along with Jefferson, that is also important to bring matches and a lantern as well. Always go prepared in case you have to spend the night in the forest. If you don´t have a good guide, for sure, it would not be the first time that an explorer loses his way and finds himself walking in circles without finding the right path.  

Starting the route, photo by Ave

Adrian shows us the mountain that we will cross today while we enter the primary forest with native species of oak, moss and copey, through leafy trails down the slope of the Savegre River, one of the cleanest rivers in the area. Today, we will travel a historical trail, since, in the past, it was the route that was drawn to communicate San Gerardo and Providencia, either by foot or by horse.

For the first half of our journey, we are prepared for a very technical walk (2 hours approximately). We pass by small rivers, tributaries of the Savegre River, as the river “Brujo”. There are also “windows” or lookouts so you can see sinkholes (a type of caverns), where the ancestors protected themselves from the rain.

9 Sendero Tecnico 1 min

On the way, we open our eyes wide, because we may find a Quetzal doing courtship or nesting nearby. Today Mother Nature decides to show us two resplendent quetzals trying to conquer a female. This is not seen every day, and this moment is simply amazing.

The following hours open the way to simpler and friendlier roads, with amazing panoramic views of the mountains. We went down a street paved by volunteers, who have come to the area for a cultural experience and in order to contribute to this beautiful place. Before finishing, we visited a small river pool located near Providencia, simply splendid. For those who resist cold, it is a nice place for a splash, but water temperatures are always low here.

We finished in La Cascadas Restaurant for a well-deserved typical lunch and enjoyed the afternoon with beautiful views towards the surrounding mountains.


  • Minimum: 1667m
  • Maximum: 2192m
  • Slope: -5.2%
  • Ascent: 264m
  • Descent: 747m




From San Gerardo de Dota, if you start at any of the following hotels: Savegre, Sueños del Bosque, Suria, you can access the walking path. No bus would be required. On the other hand from Dantica or Trogon, it would take a short journey to the beginning of the trail.  


Las Cascadas: has capacity for small groups.  It is a restaurant with a very rustic style, and its food has excellent options for vegetarians, they are very focused on sustainability. As a recommendation, you can opt for dishes called “picadillos”, which is a Costa Rican recipe with chopped vegetables (with or without meat) that is consumed a lot in the country. When combined with corn tortilla they are called "gallos de picadillo". Also, if you eat fish, try the famous trout, which is produced in this area.

Lodging options in Providencia de Dota

Tamí Lodge

"Tamí" in Bribrí means "spirit of the mountain": a new hotel, built with palm roofs to resemble the houses of our ancestors. Within these structures, there are two safari type tents, which are designed with resistant material that keeps the heat very well. Each tent has its own private bathroom, which is not inside the tent but a few meters from it (always within the same building). That means that you must leave the tent and take about 5 steps to get to the shower or toilet. They do not have their own restaurant, but breakfast is served in Las Cascadas Restaurant, about 50 meters from the hotel. This is made in order to help the locals with their businesses (the Rural Community Tourism concept).


Homestays: There are houses in the community that have an additional room equipped to accommodate travellers who want real experiences with a "tica" family. They have orthopaedic mattresses, a room only for those who travel and the heat of a Costa Rican family with their customs and traditions available in their most authentic sense, to be discovered by other cultures.

Other activities

  • This area has the sound of the Savegre River very close. Simply relax and read a good book with this background... it sounds perfect if you want to choose to relax after that walk. The landscape you can admire here is from the Los Santos Reserve, which borders the Los Quetzales National Park.
  • If you still want to continue exploring, you have the possibility to take a coffee tour nearby or visit a waterfall inside the property of Tamí Lodge called Velo de Novia.
  • For those braves who love to splash in cold water, there is a place called "El Poserón" very close to the community. But of course, since the area has low temperatures, imagine how the water will be.

Route Dota Province - Copey de Dota

Today we do a part of the journey by car since the road is paved. If you are a clear hardcore walker you can walk this stretch if you want. Going by car or bus will take about 25 minutes from where we started the trail.

The view towards the community of Providencia de Dota fills us with energy.

We ascend through a forest of tropical oaks, which are very different from the oaks of other regions. We also found areas surrounded by Bamboo that make the path look like a tunnel designed by Mother Nature and we see a large number of bromeliads that are everywhere.

This road is also historic, as it was also used by the settlers in ancient times to travel to San José to sell their products and return with other food and supplies necessary to survive. I cannot imagine going through here with the "diary" or the purchases, carrying them for 5 or 6 hours. The guide told us that not only the groceries were moved walking, also furniture and even a piano was loaded on shoulders over this path. At the highest point, we again find the vegetation of the paramo. Here Adrián shows us stones where fossils from a long time ago are seen... impressive. We took a break to descend the mountain to Copey de Dota.



Lodging options in Copey de Dota

  • Lodging at Toucanet Lodge
  • Cedrelas Ecolodge

Both hotels are simple and charming. 

Route Copey de Dota - San Gerardo (Paraíso de Quetzales)

A feeling of longing overwhelms us on the last day of walking. Today we cross a route mainly through rural dirt roads and paddocks, accompanied by our guide Eladio. Then, there is a forest sector from where you can admire a waterfall (part of the hotel Paraíso de Quetzales Reserve). In this hotel, you can enjoy lunch before continuing your trip. As another food option, you can visit Trinidad de Dota, where you can enjoy a lunch made in a Costa Rican house and enjoy the local delights of the community.


In Trinidad de Dota there is a mushroom cultivation project and homestays are offered in case you wish to opt for this kind of accommodation after travelling around 50Km (even more) through historical trails and crossings the area of “Los Santos.”


What to bring during the trip?

- Hiking sticks
- We have to pass through streams, so waterproof shoes and hopefully non-slip is highly recommended.
- Fast-dry clothes in case of drizzle
- Lantern
- Matches
- Knife
- Water
- Snacks
- In the case of carrying a camera or electronic devices, prepare airtight bags in case of rain.
- Sunscreen
- Jacket or cap

Nearby places to receive medical attention?

Santa María de Dota Clinic (+506) 2541 2111

Zona de Los Santos Hospital located in Tarrazú, (+506) 2546 6870

Cartago, Max Peralta Hospital (+506) 2550 1999

This is a trip for nature lovers who want to disconnect from life in the city in order to have a different experience, to be closer to themselves than to the hustle and bustle. I cannot express the feeling of satisfaction I had at the end of the journey, knowing that I had travelled not only more than 50 km, but I had taken the time to have a coffee enjoying the sunrise in the mountains, had taken a few minutes on the way to simply admire the beauty of the forest, the trees, the birds, etc. . I even enjoyed the rain that cooled the day. I loved the stillness and relaxation within the dense vegetation.

Now it is time for you to make the decision to do all or several parts of these routes. Do you dare? Do not hesitate to contact us if you want more information.

See you...


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  • Janaina & Dieter, Brazil

    The trip was wonderful! Your help was invaluable and without your choices it would not have been so good! I am very very satisfied and very happy with the choices you made!

    Thank you very much for everything!

    Janaina & Dieter, Brazil
  • Kathrin, Ines, Matthias & Ingo, Germany

    Hello dear Aline, many thanks to you for the great compilation and organization of the trip. We were able to spend eventful, interesting and wonderful days in Costa Rica and will keep them in good memory. A thank you also goes to the ARA Tours team, which was available 24/7 for problems and questions, which were solved and answered quickly and reliably. The punctuality of the transfers offered should also be emphasized. In summary, it was a wonderful holiday.

    Kind regards

    Kathrin, Ines, Matthias & Ingo, Germany
  • Carina & Thomas, Germany

    Hello dear Aline,
    Now we have arrived back at San Jose Airport after a great trip. Everything worked out great and the tour was just perfectly planned and organized. Thank you very much. We take a lot of positive memories with us.
    Best regards.

    Carina & Thomas, Germany
  • Yvonne, Switzerland

    The Costa Rica trip together with my family is already behind us - it was wonderful!!! Everything went smoothly from A to Z, we had a wonderful time, no incidents and wonderful experiences.
    We all enjoyed it very much; the nature is enormous, but also the warm-hearted people, the cleanliness, the food - we are very enthusiastic!
    At this point I would like to thank you very much for your support in the preparation, for all the bookings, clarifications and enquiries!!!
    We visited the waterfall in La Fortuna and had a great view of the Arenal. In Monteverde we did a Hanging Bridges and Zipline tour and in Nosara a surf course. In Finca Rosa Bianca we did the coffee tour, it was all great, fun and interesting 😊. All in all, we saw lots of animals, always ate well, enjoyed the beaches....even in rainy weather 😊. Often we were even glad that it was overcast, otherwise it would have been almost toouuu hot for us.
    So THANK YOU again so much for everything!!!!

    Yvonne, Switzerland
  • Christina, Switzerland

    Many thanks for the extensive support (before, during and after the trip) and the professional handling of our concerns. With your support we had a smooth and unforgettable vacation in Costa Rica! Our favorite hotels: Hotel Plaza Yara and the Poas Volcano Lodge - a dream!
    All the best

    Christina, Switzerland
  • Jeanne, Bernd & Bill, USA

    Yay! I´m glad we are back on track. Thank you again for helping us with all these changes.
    I´m glad we choose ARA-you are amazing! Thanks for all your help! It made it a very memorable visit!

    Jeanne, Bernd & Bill, USA
  • Janka, The Netherlands

    Hi Eli & ARA Team,
    We have spoken to the guest and they are super enthusiastic about their Costa Rica roundtrip! Everything was well organized, nice hotels, nice mix of activities & beach and they have big compliments for you guys!!
    Many thanks for all the good work!! The guest highly appreciate it!!
    They had lunch nearby in Ara Ambigua Lodge, and they loved this place. Friendly staff and good food!
    Do you work with this accommodation? If so, we would love hear 😊
    Once again, heads off for this amazing trip!
    With warm regards

    Janka, The Netherlands
  • Thomas, Deborah, Eva & Paula, Switzerland

    Dear Priska
    Happily I write some words to you in English, so you can easily forward them also to Ara Tours, please. Thank you all, we spent a magic time in Costa Rica! Baumeler's and Ara Tours organisation and logistics were perfect, everything worked out even better than we expected. The tours were brilliant, we really enjoyed everything very very much!
    All the accomodation was absolutely wonderful... the setting, the quality, the food, with happy helpful friendly staff everywhere. It was a wonderful way to experience this beautiful country the way we did, on a private tour with personal guide and drivers. We saw and learnt sooo much - it would have been impossible to do so on our own.
    Especially we praise our brilliant guide Fernando Perez, we benefited so much from his truly wide knowledge and deep love for his Country which he passed on in lovely encouraging way. We even became friends and we will meet in Switzerland coming September! Also our driver Carlos Sandi was great, not only as a driver but also as a compagnion, animal spotter and photographer. Thank you!
    So.... now we just enjoy our last day...
    Sunny greetings, pura vida

    Thomas, Deborah, Eva & Paula, Switzerland
  • Yvonne & Andrea, Switzerland

    Hello all
    Unfortunately, our wonderful trip is already over and everyday life has caught up with us again. We would like to thank you very much for everything. The trip was planned exactly according to our wishes and we have seen so many beautiful places.
    Thank you Stefanie!
    We have felt completely comfortable and top cared for by you. Via Whats App we got immediate answers to our questions, with the car everything worked out great. In all locations we were treated very warmly and nicely. It was just so indescribably beautiful, we will dream of the beautiful experiences for a long time. In any case, we will warmly recommend you and hope for a next time. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    Best regards.

    Yvonne & Andrea, Switzerland
  • Anita, Switzerland

    We have arrived safely in Switzerland and have already returned to work.
    It was a wonderful trip you put together for us.
    Your excellent service, as well as the 24 hour support service from ARA Tours, was truly outstanding.
    I have already recommended you several times and would book with you again and again. Thank you very much and keep me informed if there are any interesting offers.
    Best wishes.

    Anita, Switzerland
  • Lukas & Isabelle, Switzerland

    Hello Pedro, our time in CR is coming to an end and we wanted to say "thank you very much for organizing a phenomenal week". Everything has been well organized and we have seen many beauties of nature. Thanks!

    Lukas & Isabelle, Switzerland
  • Reinout & Yvonne, The Netherlands

    Thanks Jenny for the clear answer. We will make an appointment via the link you gave us.
    Today we visited National Parc Cabo Blanco. What an amazing park, so quiet for tourists, so full of animals, really lovely and therefore together with Monte Verde, Cahuita and Corcovado the park today, Cabo Blanco, scores high in our ranking of most beautiful parks of CR.These parks give us reason, together with the Pura Vida in CR, to come back soon. We'll keep in contact.

    Reinout & Yvonne, The Netherlands
  • Dominik, Germany

    Good day Jennifer
    As we have already told Simone, the stay at Lapa Rios is extremely enriching, thanks to the well planned planting and the untouched environment we see a lot of animals. Contrary to the plans before the stay, we do not want to visit more animals in captivity at the end. We will have a look at the few hours before we leave.
    We thank you and your team very much for the excellent advice and the permanent support! We can only recommend Ara Tours.
    Best regards.

    Dominik, Germany
  • Daniel, Jana & Theo, Germany

    A big thank to you, you saved our vacation!
    Communication already worked very well in Germany. The help from you, especially through Aline, should be mentioned here. This was fantastic from the first WhatsApp message to the last. We already know Costa Rica, so we knew what we wanted and what not. Ara Tours was an important point of contact for us. We are very grateful to Aline precisely because our actual travel agent cancelled our trip 36 hours before departure. She immediately organized everything for us. Whether the hotel in beautiful Punta Leona, the tours to the national parks, even the shuttle service with the great driver Guillerno Ortega has to be mentioned here. We are very grateful to you, dear Aline, but also to the entire Ara Tours team. You too made our almost 3-week trip to Costa Rica unforgettable again. We would love to come back and of course we will book through Ara Tours again.

    Daniel, Jana & Theo, Germany
  • Alexander & family, Switzerland

    Thank you, everything really worked out great. Super organization and at any time quick info / help / support from you!
    We liked it very much. The conclusion in Quepos was crowning. We liked the beach in the National Park Manuel Antonio very much. We would have liked to stay longer, but we take home many wonderful, unforgettable impressions. PURA VIDA!
    Many thanks to you Aline! We will gladly recommend you to others.

    Alexander & family, Switzerland
  • Neumann Family, Germany

    - The route was super planned, first on the beach time to arrive and then only from Monteverde with excursions inland etc. and at the end again beach - perfect!
    - Support from Ara Tours was VERY good!!! Through Whatsapp reachability the service was great, very quick answers / very flexible, good suggestions etc. Also with the doctor Ara Tours helped with translations by phone - that was really very, very good!
    - The home stay day was an absolute highlight - very authentic - so we got to know the locals REAL, the family was super friendly and very open and have talked about everything. Not at all touristy perceived.

    Neumann Family, Germany
  • Marine & Bruno, France

    We would like to thank you personally for this beautiful trip that you organised for us and for the follow-up that you did throughout the stay. A big thank you also to Jennifer d'Ara tours! Thank you again and have a great week!

    Marine & Bruno, France
  • Walter, Switzerland

    We really appreciated your (almost) daily updates from Costa Rica on Covid and related issues. That was a highlight compared to other incoming agents worldwide! We thank you for your effort and wish you that you manage the coming time well and stay healthy.

    Walter, Switzerland
  • Ronald, Germany

    Our great compliments for keeping us informed every day on the developments. We wish you all the best and keep yourself and families in good health and mood during this unprecedented period!

    Ronald, Germany
  • Kathrin, Germany

    You are really super! It is impressive how you manage the crisis with your super flow of information and the great reversal. Hats off!

    Kathrin, Germany
  • Michael, Germany

    Hello, we were on a round trip in Costa Rica from 27.11., which was booked through BigXtra and organised by them. We would like to take this opportunity to thank you very much. The tour was simply amazing! The support by Carlos was just great. We have done many trips before, but this one was an unforgettable experience thanks to Carlos. Carlos speaks very good German and was able to sensitively introduce us to Costa Rica, its incomparable nature and its great, friendly inhabitants. Pura Vida became for us a term for the attitude towards life in Costa Rica. Please say hello to Carlos from us and once again a huge thank you to him in the name of the whole group of 8. We wish him only the best for his future.

    Michael, Germany
  • Evelyne, Switzerland

    Wie just did a 4 week trip in Costa Rica which was organised from ARA tours and we really liked it - well done Ara Tours! We also had a guide - his name is Enrique. His German is really good and he knows a lot about Costa Rica and he showed us a lot of animals. We had a wonderful time with hime - thank you so much Enrique!

    Evelyne, Switzerland
  • Tanja, Germany

    perfect tour perfect tour guide pablo, everything very well organised 👍👍👍👍🇨🇷🇨🇨🇷 were thrilled

    Tanja, Germany
  • Ines, Germany

    Many thanks and great praise to our tour guide Mauricio and our bus driver Adrian! We felt very comfortable during the 2 weeks in Costa Rica. The wide-ranging knowledge of Mauricio and the super driving skills of Adrian were particularly admirable. Thanks to the eagle eyes of both of them, we had the opportunity to observe a variety of animals in Costa Rica. Thank you for everything!

    Ines, Germany
  • Sabine, Germany

    I can only recommend ARA Tours. Thanks again to Nicole for the great planning of the tour and the support. Our tour guide Peter Käser was simply incredible (a walking encyclopaedia) and always had an answer to all my questions about the flora and fauna and the history of CR. Our driver Julio carried my father on his hands, for which I am very grateful. CR is also worth a trip for wheelchair users at any time (with ARA Tours, of course).

    Sabine, Germany
  • Thieme Family, Germany

    We would like to thank you once again for organizing our trip [...] through the beautiful country of Costa Rica. Our special thanks go to our tour guide Enrique, who with his extensive knowledge of flora and fauna about his country brought it very close to us and made us want to come even a second time. We were very glad and happy to travel with him, as he was also very committed to our problems on site, in addition to his competent function as a tour guide.

    Thieme Family, Germany
  • Antonia-Maria & Boris, Austria

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your sensational effort! I do not know such a competent tour guide as with you really from nowhere else... and we have already traveled a lot... 🙏🏻🍀

    Antonia-Maria & Boris, Austria
  • Katja, Germany

    I wanted to thank you again for the great Costa Rica trip. We flew back home very happy and with many great impressions. A compliment for the super organisation. Everything worked out perfectly (except for the handover of the rental car, which was force majeure...). So thank you again and I have already recommended you to friends:-)!

    Katja, Germany
  • Denise & Alain, Switzerland

    Thank you very much for your email and the tickets. We really appreciate how quickly and efficiently you deal with our requests each time!

    Denise & Alain, Switzerland
  • Philippe, Switzerland

    Hello Christine Thank you very much for this information. The support is super👍 many thanks Gruss

    Philippe, Switzerland
  • Marianne & Stefan Gräub, Switzerland

    Otherwise, the planned trip was a complete success. Everything went well and the visits you organised were all very interesting. The visits you organised were all very interesting and gave us a great insight into the respective topics. The fact that the Ticos are very friendly and always ready to help was fully confirmed.

    Marianne & Stefan Gräub, Switzerland

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