La Danta Salvaje - Itinerary
The meeting point for the excursion is the Caribbean-slope town of Guapiles. It is about an hour and 15 minutes by public bus from San Jose and an hour and a half from Puerto Limon. We meet at the bus terminal in Guapiles around 9:30 a.m. Some guests prefer to arrive to Guapiles the night before the trip. For those with their own vehicles, there is a safe place to leave them for the duration of the excursion.
The day's objective is to arrive safe and sound to the lodge. If guests are arriving from San Jose or other parts of Costa Rica, the terminal is where we meet for the 4-wheel drive to the trailhead which takes about 45 minutes. Where we leave the jeep(s) (at the end of the track) is where my workers' family lives and we can safely leave any unnecessary luggage. From there it is a 3 to 3 1/2 hour hike in to the lodge, mostly through primary forest. It is a fairly rigorous hike and can be muddy in spots (I provide rubber boots) with more uphills than downhills. We cross three rivers, one of which we use a cable "ride", especially if the river is swollen.
We usually arrive to the lodge around 3-3:30 and I provide snacks during the hike. After we get settled in we have a light meal and hang out and enjoy the solitude and beauty of the area. In the evening we have a nice, big hot meal and hot chocolate for dessert! Everyone raves about how delicious the food is at La Danta, which I and my workers and volunteers from the group prepare. We can also accommodate vegetarians. I have lots of board games, cards, backgammon and chess to play at night around the fire place in the common room of the lodge. There is no electricity; we use lanterns and candles. Usually we hit the sack around 10 pm.
All day hikes are optional. If someone prefers to hang out at the lodge and hike to a swimming hole with a waterfall just 25 minutes away (well marked trail--this is the only trail I allow guests to do on their own), it's up to them. Breakfast at 7:30 and we leave for the "waterfall" hike. We take lunch with us on this 6-hour hike (including rest breaks, lunch and swimming) and visit three beautiful waterfalls, watching for birds and animals and talking about the flora of the forest. We return to the lodge around 3 pm, hang out, bird watch, shower, etc. and then prepare a great supper.
We go on another hike, this time down the "Monkey" trail to the Rio Corinto which borders on the national park, a vertical descent of over 400 meters and encompasses three eco-zones. We have lunch at a great swimming hole on the river and, weather permitting, hike up a creek which includes scrambling up rocks and beautifully rugged terrain, again arriving back to the lodge around 3 pm.
After a hearty breakfast, we start hiking out around 9 am and arrive to the jeep(s) around noon. We drive down to the "pista" and back to Guapiles. Some ride back with me to Puerto Viejo (I live there) or San Jose (if I'm going that way) or I take them to the bus terminal or cabinas.