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La Marta Wildlife Refuge

La Marta Wildlife Refuge

Quick Facts

  • Location : Pejibaye de Cartago; 44 miles southeast of San Jose
  • Altitude : 2,475 to 6,400 feet
  • Area : 3,750 acres
  • Hours : 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m
  • Telephone : 2221-7141 or 2542-0300 ext. 507
  • Entrance Fee : $10

La Marta Wildlife Refuge protects the La Marta, Atirro and Gato river basins, in addition to primary cloud forest, waterfalls and cave systems. The refuge is the gateway to the adjacent Tapanti and La Amistad National Parks.

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La Marta is administered by the Castro Carazo Metropolitan University, which has a research station within the refuge where students and resident scientists study forestry, history and biology. The reserve is particularly rich in timber forest, palms, and epiphytes including orchids, bromeliads, lichens and mosses. La Marta has mountainous terrain, but is also home to the relatively flat Marta and Gato River valleys – making for challenging hiking and varied scenery. Notable mammalian species include kinkajous, anteaters, jaguars, ocelots and tapirs.

In addition to self-guided hikes, the private refuge offers visitors four different tours: birdwatching, history, natural history, and a night hike. The three-hour birdwatching tour departs daily before dawn – the best time to observe resident birds – and is tailored to guest interests. The natural history tour focuses more on the reserve's beautiful surrounds, traveling almost nine miles over rustic trails. Nature lovers also enjoy the two-hour night hike that explores the unique environment of the nighttime cloud forest, and spotlights nocturnal and sleeping diurnal mammals, reptiles, and insects. 


Facilities include a camping area, hanging bridge, coffee mill, dairy, water mill, trapiche sugar mill, public bathrooms, and accommodations for up to 15 guests. The refuge also has an intricate hiking system of 20 interconnected trails that total 11 miles.


Daytime temperatures range between 65º and 85º F, and the refuge receives an average annual rainfall of 180 inches. A jacket, rain gear and hiking shoes are recommended.

Getting There: 

Bus: Buses Cartago to El Humo stop at La Marta Wildlife Refuge; 9:15 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:45 p.m., 6:15 p.m., and 9:30 p.m. $2. 2574-6127.

Car: From San Jose, take the Interamerican Highway east to Cartago. From Cartago, turn south onto Route 10 toward Paraiso. In Paraiso, take Route 224 east past Ujarras, and follow the road northeast after it changes to Route 225. About three miles after the town of Tucurrique, turn right onto Route 408 and drive 1.5 miles into Pejibaye. From downtown, take the main road one mile southeast to the Olas River intersection, and follow signs to La Marta Wildlife Refuge, known locally as Refugio de Vida Silvestre La Marta.

La Marta Wildlife Refuge in Pictures

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