Pack your finest walking boots and plan on taking a hike during your upcoming Costa Rican vacation.
Nature trails near our Dominical rental villas are exceptional and teeming with local wildlife and exquisite tropical plants. Many of our villas feature natural walkways on-site, or within steps, of each property. We highly recommend that you take full advantage of these amazing properties by exploring their nearby surroundings, be it rock-laden creek beds, cascading waterfalls or uphill jungle terrain.
For those seeking professionally guided hiking tours or trails off the beaten path, here is a trio of suggestions to help point you in the proper direction:
Jungle Day Trek at Rancho DiAndrew
Rancho DiAndrew, an ecotourism company located in the town of San Josecito to the south of Dominical, offers a Jungle Day Trek for $65 per person without lunch and $75 per person with lunch.
This professionally-guided tour lasts a total of five hours and scales more than 1,000 feet in elevation while traversing primary rainforest. The trail is circular, first going along a river and then up the mountain toward multiple waterfalls. You will experience three waterfalls during the tour that are, collectively, 150, 200 and 250 feet in height.
The Jungle Day Trek is best suited for fit hikers with enough stamina to swim in the waterfalls and then finish their walk in the steamy Central American sun. Many spider monkeys have been spotted along this trail, as well as the rare anteater. A couple of deep breaths and some T-shirt sweat are small prices to pay for the memorizing natural settings you will encounter.
Those opting to pay the extra $10 for lunch will be cooked an authentic Costa Rican dish by a local family that resides near the base of the hike. Word on the street is the food is delicious. This tour can accompany groups of two hikers or more and 24-hour advanced reservations are recommended.
There are two other waterfalls tours offered by Rancho DiAndrew, the Moderate Trek and Advanced Trek. These high-energy adventures, however, are geared more toward wading down the river than actually hiking. For more information, contact Andrew Mattison at 8705-8377 or 8329-0666. Andrew can also be reached via email at [email protected] or on Skype at Andrew_Mattison.
The exit for Rancho DiAndrew is located 16 kilometers south of Dominical. There’s a sign for the facility on the main highway. From the exit, it’s 4 more kilometers uphill to the location.
Trails at Rancho La Merced National Wildlife Refuge
Located near the Marino Ballena National Park in Uvita, Rancho La Merced offers an exquisite hiking experience through primary and secondary rainforest ripe with howler monkeys, white-nosed coati and more than 300 species of birds.
The guided, day tour costs approximately $40 per person and lasts between two and three hours. Light refreshments and lemonade are included in the price. For $10 more per person, your group can make the hike exclusive with your own private guide. Hiking the trails without a guide costs $6. They also offer a night hike for $40 per person.
Rancho La Merced tour guides will teach you how insects, birds, mammals, and reptiles survive and thrive in their natural habitats, day and night. You can also expect to gain all kinds of knowledge about local flora and fauna, the plants’ healing powers and uses in the kitchen. The trails wrap along the Morete River basin and meander in and out of hills throughout the reserve.
Guided tours, day and night, require a minimum of two participants and should be booked at least a day in advance. Binoculars and telescopes are included. To schedule a hike, call 2743-8032. The turnoff for Rancho La Merced is located at the kilometer 159 marker along the Costanera Highway, just outside of Uvita.
Twelve Kilometers to Nauyaca Waterfalls
There’s nothing secret about Nauyaca Waterfalls. The place is, quite simply, a sight to behold.
Most tours to Nauyaca, however, are done on horseback at a cost of $70 per person. What many tourists don’t realize is that you can hike into the falls via private land for a fee of $8 per person. And believe us when we tell you this is the best $8 you’ll ever spend.
To get to the waterfalls, take the road from Dominical east toward San Isidro. The office for Don Lulo’s Nauyaca Waterfalls is located less than 10 kilometers east of Dominical on the right-hand side of the street. There are multiple signs along the road just prior to the office’s location. Park along the road outside the office, go in and ask for a hiking ticket. They’ll point you in the right direction from that point.
The hike itself is approximately 4 kilometers each direction. It’s mostly uphill on the way in and the footing along the trail can be muddy since so many horses plod along the main path. Hiking shoes are highly recommended.
When you get to the breathtaking double-falls, grab a seat and start to unwind. Then grab your camera and start snapping pictures because you are going to want to brag to all your friends. In a while, all the horse tours will leave and it’ll be just the hikers who are left to enjoy Nauyaca’s beauty all to themselves.
There’s a large swimming area at the base of the second fall where most visitors hang out and splash around. In the dry season (December through April) the swim area is rather calm. During the green season (May through November) the waterfalls start raging and the water near the swimming hole is choppier and a little tougher to navigate, although it’s far from impossible.
Bottom line: This is the premier hike in the Dominical area.
Other Options Available
Like we mentioned earlier, some of the best hiking in town can be found right around your vacation rental. Still, a couple of other options to consider include day and night nature hikes at Hacienda Baru (2787-0003); a local mangrove hike close to Uvita which is also part of a short kayak trip (8738 2859 or 8309 4426). Eight-to-ten hour hikes to the Sirena Biological Station at the southwest coast of the Osa Peninsula (2735-5036 or 2735-5580).