Sixty kilometres, and a three-hour road-trip, south of Limón is one of Costa Rica’s least visited national reserves, the RESERVA BIOLÓGICA HITOY-CERERE. Sandwiched between the Tanyí, Telier and Talamanca indigenous reservations, this very rugged, isolated terrain – ninety-one square kilometres of it – has no campsites or washrooms, though there is a ranger station at the entrance with a small dormitory where you can bed down for the night.
In the Bribrí language, hitoy means “woolly” (the rocks in its rivers are covered with algae, and everything else has grown a soft fuzz of moss); and cerere means “clear waters”, of which there are many. One of the wettest reserves in all of Costa Rica, it receives a staggering 4m of rain per year in some areas, with no dry season at all. Its complicated biological profile reflects the changing altitudes within the park. The top canopy trees loom impressively tall – some as high as 50m – and epiphytes, bromeliads, orchids and lianas grow everywhere beneath the very dense cover. Wildlife is predictably abundant, but most of the species are nocturnal and rarely seen, although you might spot three-toed sloths, and perhaps even a brocket deer. You’ll probably hear howler monkeys, and may glimpse white-faced monkeys. Pacas and rare frogs abound, many of them shy and little-studied. More visible are the 115 species of birds, from large black vultures and hummingbirds to trogons and dazzling blue kingfishers.