La Marta Wildlife Refuge
Get Ready for an Adventure
This paradise of tropical rain forest is part of the La Amistad-Talamanca Biosphere Reserve, considered Natural Heritage of Humanity by the UNESCO and it was the first private wildlife refuge in the country.
1500 hectares of very humid tropical rainforest (6,5 times more annual rain than in San Jose). Approximately 40% of the territory is primary forest and the remaining 60% is coverd by secondary forest in different stages of natural regeneration.
It borders the Amistad and the Tapani-Macizi de la Muerte Nationalparks. An aboundance of lichen, mosses, tropical plants, birds, butterflies, insects, frogs can be found and rarely seen mammals live in this territory, like ant bears, martens, ocelots, jaguars and tapirs among others.
The day we visited we had been the only visitors in the whole park, which made us feel like explorers in an enchanted tropical environment, forgotten by the rest of the world. Already the way to La Marta is an adventure. After having passed the village of Pejibaye the dirt road which you have to follow for another 6 km becomes very winding, bumpy and narrow.
A friendly ranger welcomed us at the entrance and handed out a little map. Afterwards we had to find the way ourselves over the suspension bridge to the remains of the ancient sugar mill which is half overgrown by jungled looked a bit like a prehistoric pyramid.
You should not miss the “River Tram” which you can hop on and pull yourself over to the other side of the river and enjoy gorgeous views.
They are plenty of nature trails (14 km alltogether) through the rainforest following the two rivers Río Gato and Río Marta, or leading uphill to an elevation of 872 m with a viewing tower which provides nice views over the forest and the complete valley.
There are camping and picknick areas as well if you decide to bring lunch or a snack (you are requested only to eat at designated spots and not along the trails).
They are many “pozos”, swimming holes, along the rivers. But please use common sense and check on waterlevel and current before throwing yourself into the water.
Be prepared for muddy trails and partly steep inclines, high humidity and rain, for abondant flora but little chances to spot big wild mammals.