Costa RicaCosta Rica

Hitoy Cerere Biological Reserve

Quick Facts

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

Named by the Bribri, this quiet reserve's name means "wooly clear waters." In other words, it never ceases to rain at Hitoy Cerere Biological Reserve, and its stream and river surfaces are always dappled with sprinkling rains. In fact, the reserve receives up to 236 inches of rain per year, which helps keep it one of the most verdant and refreshing parks in Costa Rica.

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Various ecosystems make up the secluded and rugged park, including lowland rainforest and evergreen highlands. Wildlife watching is superb here, and hikers often report sightings of keel-billed toucans, spectacled owl, Montezuma oropendola, howler monkeys, gray four-eyed opossum and wooly opossum. Jaguar sightings have also been reported, but the elusive animals are very difficult to spot.

Since it receives few visitors, the reserve has only one poorly-maintained hiking trail. The 5.6-mile trail is steep, slippery and often muddy, recommended only for experienced hikers. However, 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 °F
Annual Average Rainfall: 137 inches

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


Hiking and wildlife watching are the reserves main activities. Camping is not permitted. Indigenous reserve visits may be arranged with a 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, and howler and white-faced monkeys.

Closer to the ground, visitors can commune with tropical river otter, tayra, jaguar, 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 here you will have to walk 9.5 miles through a number of banana plantations 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