“The Big Forest Hike was an extraordinary experience and the highlight of my trip to Costa Rica."
The Big Forest Hike Travis Day 2017-12-30T19:46:40+00:00
The coolest transfer between Monteverde and La Fortuna side
If you are looking for transportation from Monteverde to La Fortuna or from La Fortuna to Monteverde, the Big Forest Hike is a unique and adventurous way to transfer between Monteverde and the Arenal area in one day. This personalized eco-adventure gives you the opportunity to arrive at your destination by traveling through the cloud forest, a raw, tropical landscape with amazing views, on foot and/or on horseback. We can help you customize the adventure based on your needs, desires, and destination – this includes choosing the duration of the trip and whether you’d like to travel completely by foot, or a combination of by foot and by horse back.
To travel through the wilderness of Costa Rica’s preserved land, its forest trails and remote farms offers a challenging experience. A good level of health and fitness is required for this trek, but the rewards are life-long memories. A shuttle company can ship unnecessary luggage to your destination, be it Monteverde or La Fortuna.
This is the standardized, most popular version of our Big Forest Hike. However, we can help you customize the tour to fit your needs and desires. If you prefer to hike the whole way and not ride horses, the price will be decreased accordingly.
La Fortuna/El Castillo bound:
You will start at Mirador San Gerardo, a $20 taxi ride from downtown Santa Elena. This is a great place for taking photos of the magnificent views of the reserves, lake, and volcano. There is a restaurant and lodging here, so be sure to reserve breakfast before the tour if you’d like to eat. You can also spend the night here beforehand, which is recommended. We’ll start horse back riding at 8 am for about 1.5 hours down the cloud forest mountains through a typical back country farmland and forest horse trail. Then, we’ll continue on a foot trail hiking through raw wilderness for about three hours, reaching a camping farm for a rest stop. After that, we’ll take another horse back ride that will bring you out of the forest and around Lake Arenal all the way to the town of El Castillo, where the tour ends in the late afternoon. Congratulations, you have crossed the continental divide without using any fossil fuels! El Castillo offers many lodging and restaurants and transportation services. Travelers can spend the night and take a shuttle the next day back to Monteverde over the lake or a shuttle or a bus to La Fortuna. Don’t miss out on the hot springs. If you wish to continue on into La Fortuna on the same day, you can take the 4pm shuttle or a taxi as long as you plan ahead.
Start at 8 am at La Gavilana in the town of El Castillo (or arrange prior for pick up at the place of your choice in El Castillo). We’ll head out on a 2-hour horse ride around Lake Arenal, enjoying great volcano views before we continue up into the reserve to reach the beginning of the trail. We’ll then continue on a foot trail through a raw wilderness for about three hours. Finally, we’ll take another horse back ride up the mountains toward the cloud forest and continental divide for about three hours (allowing for a refreshment stop), ending the tour at Mirador San Gerardo late afternoon. This is a great place for views (Mirador = Viewpoint) of the reserves, lake, and Volcano Arenal. If you would like, it is possible to reserve dinner and lodging here. Otherwise, you can take a $20 taxi ride to downtown Santa Elena. Congratulations, you have crossed the continental divide without burning any fossil fuels!
The cost of the standard version described in the itinerary section is
Shuttle company ships luggage to El Castillo at $10 per bag. Plenty of places to visit and stay in El Castillo and La Fortuna, such as the beautiful hot springs, that make you feel like you’re at a spa!
Full payment due at time of booking via PayPal or credit card. Cancellation more than 7 days before date of tour forfeits 50% of amount paid. Cancellation within one week of tour start date forfeits full amount paid.
The Big Forest Hike must always be reserved in advance.
It’s important to come prepared, with excellent health and fitness and the proper jungle gear. Up in the cloud forest it can get cold fast, and hypothermia is not a myth. Be ready for a sudden change in temperature. You’ll be crossing rivers and streams, many insects will be attracted to your sweat, you’ll get wet and dirty and very possibly see snakes and other wild critters. Chances of getting rained on are 50/50. In summary, be sure to come prepared for all of these situations. Bring proven hiking shoes, or in other words, shoes you have already used and know to be comfortable.
Strongly recommend to bring:
SEALED package with one set of dry clothing
Proven hiking boots
Long pants, long sleeves, and layers in case it gets cold
Bottle of water
Food (recommended to bring your favorite trail mix)
If you under prepare, you are risking your health and the success of the whole trip.
“The Big Forest Hike is an extraordinary experience
and the highlight of my trip to Costa Rica.
Before meeting up with Tomas and our guide Miguel, we had visited the hanging bridges park at Arenal. What a contrast! Where the hanging bridges was crowded with loud visitors shuffling over the concrete paths as fast as they could, the Big Forest Hike took us deep into Costa Rica’s rain forests where we were able to take our time and enjoy the solitude of being in the real wilderness.”
– Arran, February 2016
Took the big forest hike and loved it. Some really great hiking. The first day is a good workout. The finca is beautiful. Get up early and walk the open areas to watch the birds. Really the best way to see them. I’m glad I did it. You will be too.
Vernon, March 2015
We had a great time on the hike–it was definitely the most memorable part of our trip to Costa Rica. As strenuous as advertised but our guide, Rudolfo, was really helpful and did what he could to make it easier. Maximo’s was great–excellent food and amazing location. Worth the effort to get there. I recommend bringing comfortable shoes and expect to get wet and muddy.
Nathan, February 2015
My husband and I really enjoyed the camp and big forest hike. It was the perfect rugged mountain experience!
Jessica, December 2015
A very friendly welcome from everyone at La Gavilana – a cup of coffee and a bag of goodies appropriate for the hike. John, the hippy dude, and his dog Buddy walked us up to Tomas’ farm to meet Miguel, our guide for the next 2 days. We had a great hike through the forest to stay at Maximo’s farm for the night and then on to Santa Elena the next day. Miguel was a great guide, giving as much information as we wanted and Maximo was very friendly – it was great to meet a real, old time Costa Rican.
Krestin, March 2016
This is a special hike. If you are looking for something challenging, rewarding and ultimately an opportunity to really disconnect this is an amazing hike. In the 1.5 days I was gone, I didn’t see another person other than the guide Miguel and Maximo, who lives on a small farm in the middle of the rain forest where you spend the night. You are walking through untouched primary rain forest. Miguel the guide is great, very knowledgable about the flora and fauna and speaks very good English.