UPDATE: Cloudbridge Sold October 2014
High up in the mountains of Costa Rica is a place that will take your breath away—a place where you literally breath in the clouds. I had one last day in the country and wanted to get out of the “tourist loop.” The drive from the Pacific Ocean is spectacular. The main road winds through small town up the mountains, overlooking rivers, forests, and villages.
Once you get to San Isidro do El General, keep going for about an hour. It isn’t that far, but much of the drive is unpaved and steep. I strongly suggest 4-wheel drive. There are few signs for the The Cloudbridge Nature Reserve and Reforestation Project. If you think you’ve missed it, you probably haven’t. It is literally the end of the road. You’ll pass signs to Chirripó National Park.
When we arrived, Dr John Himes, manager of the Cloudbridge Nature Reserve explained that the 700 acres are mostly reforested. Much of the land had been used for livestock, but is now going back to its natural state. Early in the trail you will find flowers, a meditation garden, and access to the waterfalls. The clear water churns, creating a relaxing audio track. You can get in the water to swim, but let me warn you, it is very cold!
This isn’t a “walk in the park,” it is a hike up a mountain. No need for special shoes or gear, but it is steep and rains often, which makes the path slick. Himes told us about a place near a water crossing where you can go off-path for about 10 minutes and discover enormous trees, 2 meters in diameter, that were not cut for grazing. It is a little tough to get there in the rain, but they are truly the largest trees I have ever seen.
When you get back on the path, you will eventually get high enough to see the views. You are literally in the clouds. Sure you’ll get a little wet, but you can breathe and taste them. Through the mist, you see the thick formations rolling down the sides of the mountains through the lush trees and plants. The hike is challenging, but not too difficult. I recommend this to all travelers who want to experience the cloud forest.
The Cloudbridge is free of charge, but accepts donations. The mission is to restore and protect the biodiversity in the Neotropical forests, while helping to offset air pollution. While we were up there, I also noticed a “For Sale” sign. Himes explained that the owners are selling their hundreds of acres, listed at $899,000. Keep in mind that it must remain a reserve.
So where do you stay? The Cloudbridge is located in the forests of the Talamanca Mountains in southwestern Costa Rica and is about 3½ hours southeast of San José. There are small resorts up and down the mountain. The closest village is San Gerardo de Rivas, but the larger city of San isidro de El General isn’t too far either.
SAN ISIDRO DE EL GENERAL:
San Isidro de El General 08000
+506 2771 0529
2 Km Este de Escuela
San Gerardo de Rivas
Pérez Zeledón, Costa Rica 11904