Costa RicaCosta Rica

Hitoy Cerere Biological Reserve

Quick Facts

  • Location : 37 miles south of Limon
  • Altitude : 1,640 feet above sea level
  • Area : 22,577 acres
  • Hours : 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily
  • Telephone : 2758-3170
  • Entrance Fee : $8.00

In the higher elevations of the Hitoy Cerere Biological Reserve, you'll find verdant evergreen highlands dappled with morning dew while in the lowland rainforest the last droplets of rainfall to the forest floor hours after the last drizzle. But it's never too long in-between showers; the reserve receives as much as 236 inches of rain per year making it one of Costa Rica's most lush and vibrant reserves. In fact, "Hitoy Cerere" is a Bribri name meaning "wooly clear water" alluding to the idea that it never stops raining for long in this 23,000-acre reserve.

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Hike along the reserve's only trail, Espavel trail, for a chance to see keel-billed toucans, spectacles owls, Montezuma's orependulas, howler monkeys, four-eyed opossums, two- and three-toed sloths, anteaters, agoutis and more. A rough and rugged hike, Espavel trail winds 5.6 miles through steep, slippery and often muddy terrain; so make sure you're up to the task. For those with the expertise to tackle this rustic path, the Hitoy Cerere Biological Reserve offers huge, tumbling waterfalls, evergreen expanses and views that stretch for miles.

In addition, several indigenous communities live within the reserve – with advance notice, several area tour operators can arrange trips to their small towns.


Average temperature: 84 degrees
Annual Average Rainfall: 137 inches

Depending on elevation, temperatures inside the reserve range from hot to chilly. Wear layers and take rain gear.


Hiking and wildlife watching are the reserve's main activities. Camping is not permitted. Indigenous reserve visits may be arranged with a local guide and advance notice.


There is a ranger station at the entrance to Hitoy Cerere Biological Reserve. There are no other facilities.


The park’s only trail, the Espavel Trail, is a 5.6-mile path that runs through the reserve. Waterfalls, wildlife and incredible views are highlights of hiking in the park. Be aware that the park is very rugged, and trails are not well maintained. This hike is recommended for experienced hikers only.

Flora & Fauna

The reserve’s dense, treetop layer makes up a rich and rarely seen world of canopy-dwelling, largely nocturnal and diurnal animals including the three-toed sloth, silky anteater, four-eyed opossum, howler and white-faced monkeys.

Closer to the ground, visitors can commune with tropical river otter, tayra, tiger cat, tapir, red brocket deer, collared peccary.  Three hundred species of birds call the trees home, including the Montezuma oropendola, vulture, chizo parrot, slaty-tailed trogon, red-fronted parrotlet and hummingbirds. Poison dart frogs and cane toads are abundant.

Getting There

The reserve is approximately 1.5 hours from Cahuita and two hours from Puerto Viejo.

By car: Head west on the road to Valle de la Estrella and Penshurst, located just south of the Estrella River Bridge. At the bus stop, a small sign (look closely) will indicate the 9.5 mile dirt road to the reserve. 4WD is highly recommended.

By public bus: Take the bus from Limon to Valle la Estrella, and ask the driver to drop you off at Fortuna or Finca Seis. From there you will have to walk 9.5 miles through a number of banana farms until you reach the reserve. If desired, arrange for round-trip transportation via 4WD taxi to the park – make sure to agree upon a price and pickup time in advance.

Hitoy Cerere Biological Reserve in Pictures

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