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Hacienda Barú Wildlife Refuge - Hiking Matapalo - Costa Rica

Spanning beaches, rivers, mangroves, wetlands, pastures, tree plantations, primary, secondary, and selectively logged forests, the refuge is literally crawling with life. In a country famed for ecosystems within ecosystems, this place is no exception. As of January 2006, 351 different species of bird had been identified, along with 69 kinds of mammal, 94 different reptiles and amphibians, and 87 types of butterfly. Protected from hunting since 1976, this area has been allowed to flourish.

The flora supporting these guys is just as intense. In trees alone, 158 different species were identified, some over 8.5 meters in circumference. Not bad for only 330 hectares. The refuge forms an important link in the major biological corridor, the “Path of the Tapir.” Spanning roughly 50km in length, this path is a conservation and socioeconomic project involving 28 communities, hundreds of individual landowners, and two dozen organizations.

Hacienda Barú offers a variety of guided hiking tours, specializing in bird watching, including overnighters in the jungle or on the beach. Prices range from $20-$60, usually including a meal. Availability can be limited and you need to make reservations for the overnight and early morning hikes. Shorter activities include a zip-line (8 separate cable rides, 2-3 hour duration), tree-climbing (height of 35 meters, you don‘t need to be strong but you do need to be fit), and a canopy platform, 32 meters high (physical fitness not required). All these activities cost $35 per person.

People wishing to explore the area independently can use the “Paths of Discovery” trail guide. This provides descriptions of all the trails (7 km worth + 3 km of beach) and helps you find wildlife by detailing 100 different species and the paths where you can look for them.

Open every day, admission is $6 plus an additional $2 for an extra day during the same week (same price all year). The place closes around 5.30 p.m. Six cabins provide overnight accommodation. Each cabin has two bedrooms with two double beds, a twin bed, room for an extra person if necessary, and a private bathroom, kitchenette, and porch. A couple can expect to pay (in high season) $60 + $10 for each additional guest + tax (per cabin). Children under 10 years old are free. Hacienda Barú is located 3km out of Dominical on the main road to Quepos. The entrance is after the gas station on the left. (Or before the gas station on the right, if you’re coming from Quepos.) A cab from Dominical will probably cost you around $5. You can catch buses from the Hacienda entrance. See the website for bus timetables: or call the Barú at 506-2787-0003.

Hacienda Barú / Jack Ewing

APDO 215-8000

San Isidro de P. Z.

Costa Rica
Playa Matapalo, Matapalo, Costa Rica

Hiking Types:
National park, Hike, Day trip, Canopy, Camping, adventure

Getting There
Hacienda Barú is located 3km out of Dominical on the main road to Quepos. The entrance is after the gas station on the left. (Or before the gas station on the right, if you’re coming from Quepos or Matapalo.)

Price Description: Admission is $6 plus an extra $2 for an extra day during the same week (same price all year).

Tour prices vary.

Relative price: Mid-Range

Open Hours to:5:30pm

Days Closed:Open daily

Travel Skills: beginner/easy.

You Need to Bring: Insect repellent, camera, walking shoes, sunblock, drinking water, a hat. Ask if special things are needed for your tour.

Currencies accepted
US dollar, Costa Rican colón

Contact Information:
Zip: 215-800
Phone: 506-2787-0003
Fax: 506-2787-0057
E-mail: info(at)

By Dallas
Bachelor of Health Sciences & Psychology, TEFL Graduate, worked as an adventure tour photographer, travel writer, Voxy blogger, Chamber of Commerce...
17 Dec 2008

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