Jungle Hike in the hills of Golfito

One day, while perusing a cartoon tourist map of Golfito, we noticed that there was a hiking trail leading up into the mountains, starting just about 1/2 mile from the marina. After checking it out on Google Earth, we decided we would get up early one morning and go for a hike thru the tropical rain forest jungles of the Golfito Natl Wildlife Refuge.

So the next morning we got dressed to go hiking; long pants and tennis shoes, both of us sprayed with a goodly amount of DEET, before we headed out. Instead of walking, we had heard of another strategy from Tim. One can take a taxi to the top of the ridge and then hike back down, so that's what we decided to do. We caught a cab not far from the marina, that took us up Calle Torre, "Tower Road", and drove us the 5-7 miles over the curvy switchbacked road to the deadend summit at the communication towers. We stopped at several scenic overlooks and snapped photos and footage of the bay.

When we got to the top, at the radio towers, we were surprised to find no trail from the tower to the town. A quick conversation with some guys working at the radio tower pointed us back down the road about 1/2 mile, where we were told we could find a trail down the hill. After backing up (three houses, on the left), we slowed the taxi looking for the trailhead. The taxi stopped near a small rancho where we asked a man working in his fields (complete with machete and sidearm)if he knew of a trail down to town. He in fact did, and stepped down and walked a hundred yards or so down the road with us, pointing out the trailhead.

After doubly confirming, with sign language and broken Spanish, that it was a reasonable trail for us to hike down, we thanked the rancher and the taxi driver and made our way into the jungle on the slender, single person trail. With the daily rains and the almost complete canopy cover, it was wet and muddy on the trail, and slippery at points with dead wet foliage. But it was a bit of an adventure and we're glad that we undertook it.

We were hoping to see some monkeys, maybe a sloth, or at least some birds, but learned quickly that the density of the jungle precluded much in the way of distance visibility. We could hear birds making their various calls, but could not see them. We never came across any monkeys or sloths,(or snakes!)although we did get to see a number of lizards and butterflies. There were these huge, 4-6" bright blue butterflies that would take your breath away when they appeared and fluttered over us and up or down the trail.

We had to cross two small gurgling streams, each time almost losing the trail which, although well worn, was hard to make out in the gorges of the streams. And what the rancher had said would take us 30 minutes took us more like 2 hours, as we carefully inched our way down the steep muddy hill, switchbacks, downed trees, and cutouts. There were some nice little waterfalls, and we stopped at each of the streams for breaks and to take in the lush landscape.

When we finally got near the bottom, the first sign of civilization was a water catchment on one of the streams that resulted in a pipe that ran about 100 yards to a small pumping station. Just past the pumping station we came upon a private residence, and then before we knew it, we emerged onto the paved streets of Golfito, just above the "United Fruit" housing complex and the Banco Nacional.

Hike Thru the Jungle