Costa Rica's Most Epic Mountains and Highest Peaks

On top of the world | © drivebyshOOter/Flickr
On top of the world | © drivebyshOOter/Flickr | drivebyshOOter
Photo of Jenn Parker
30 March 2018

Costa Rica is peppered with mountains, volcanoes, and sky high precipices. There are actually 368 peaks in Costa Rica and several of them are 3,000 meters/9,842 feet or more above sea level. The vistas from these heights are otherworldly, but only the brave, determined, and adventurous will reap the benefits of such an endeavor. Do you have what it takes to reach the top? Here are Costa Rica’s most epic summits.

Mount Chirripò

Mount Chirripò is the mountain of all mountains in Costa Rica. At a staggering 3,819 meters above sea level, this is Costa Rica’s tallest mountain. Located in the cordillera (range) de Talamanca, experienced hikers and climbers from around Costa Rica and the world over are drawn to this particular mountain because of the challenges and rewards that it offers. You must make a reservation in order to hike here though and can only stay for a maximum of three days. The view from the top, especially at sunrise is an image that you will never forget.

Cerro de la Muerte

Cerro de la Muerte is the highest peak of Mount Chirripò. This is the peak that most hiking and climbing enthusiasts in Costa Rica aim to reach. On the way to the top, you will encounter multiple different ecosystems including premontane forest and cloud forest. This area is also a favorite habitat for the resplendent quetzal and a number of other exquisite bird species. To embark on such a grandiose adventure you must plan ahead and be prepared for the elements (it gets very cold up at this elevation) and the potential and likely challenges, but standing on top of the “hill of death” is sure to make you feel more alive that you have ever felt before.

Welcome to the wild | © Amanda/Flickr

Cerro de Terbi

Located within the Chirripò National Park, Cerro (literally translates to hill in Spanish, but the equivalent of mount in English) de Terbi tops out at 3,759 meters above sea level. For the avid adventure hiker, there are multiple peaks within the Chirripò National Park to conquer and this is one of the higher ones. From summits this high, on a clear day, you can see both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea.

Get out and up there! | © James Berridge/Flickr

Volcán Irazu

The summit of the Irazú volcano is 3,432 meters above sea level. However, unlike the above three mountains and peaks, this precipice is very accessible. You can actually drive the majority of the way up to a small visitor center. From there, there is a 1 kilometer loop trail that takes you to the principal crater and Diego de la Haya, Playa Hermosa, and La Laguna craters. This is one of Costa Rica’s most visited volcanoes and national parks, so it’s a good idea to arrive early. Keep in mind though, the temperature can be near freezing at this high elevation.

High elevation mineral lake | © The LEAF Project/Flickr

Volcán Turrialba

The Turrialba volcano, which rises 3,339 meters above sea level, is currently active. Due to the recent activity, the Turrialba National Park is closed to visitors. There have already been two eruptions this year! Before the past few years, this volcano hadn’t erupted since the late 1860s. This magnificent natural landmark is also home to a diverse variety of ecosystems, plant life, and wildlife. If the volcano ever goes dormant again, hiking along this volcanic mountain and up to the top is a spectacular feat.

Alive and smoking | © Bernal Saborio/Flickr

Cerro Kamuk

Cerro Kamuk is located deep inside La Amistad National Park, which is the largest nature reserve in Costa Rica. This expedition is only for the most adventurous and driven hikers. You cannot drive through this park, so the only way to reach this majestic place is by foot. A guided trek to Cerro Kamuk is typically around six or seven days long. During this time, you will experience the true wild side of Costa Rica.

Cerro Buena Vista

The moderately challenging hike to the peak of Cerro Buena Vista will bring you to 3,492 meters above sea level. The walk and the views along the way and at the top are spectacular. During the hike, you will also walk up through a mystical cloud forest, an oak and evergreen forest, and sub alpine forest. You will see some of the famous volcanoes of the Central Volcanic Mountain Range, as well as sweeping vistas of the South Central Pacific. A round trip walk to Cerro Buena Vista is approximately six hours.

Mountains as far as the eye can see | © MBandman/Flickr

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