Visiting the Falls

Granular Poison Dart Frog

Sylvan Falls will be open in July 2019! All visitors will be accompanied by our staff. You have two options: we can pick you up from your hotel in Golfito, or we can meet you at the turnoff outside Rio Claro (ask for the map). For Golfito hotels, pick-up time is 8 a.m. or 2 p.m. The round trip tour takes 4-5 hours. For Rio Claro, meeting times are 8:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. Other times can be arranged in advance.

The journey is part of the adventure! You may drive over a swing bridge, or we can take you in our car and do this for you! In wet season, you should expect to walk in from the end of the public road. It is 1.6 km (1 mile) from this point to Sylvan Camp. The walk is flat but it will be wet! The best footwear are sturdy water shoes/sandals. Rubber boots can also be worn but water will go over the top. After leaving our cars, we walk alongside the Rio Sorpresa, where we can expect to see kingfishers, herons, white ibis, and numerous basilisk lizards. If very lucky, we may see the resident pair of otters. Crossing the river we head up a flooded road – the water comes from an underground river and the water level can change from day to day. Following the trail, we cross the river a couple more times and arrive at Sylvan Camp. Here you can relax a bit and use the washroom before we head into the forest. When you are ready we continue for another 800 m, passing under a hibiscus arbor and into the forest. the trail is narrow and hugs the side of the hill, so watch your step. Looking down you may see poison dart frogs – we have two common species here (see images). The path winds up and down, then follows the river flood plain, and rises again before dropping quite sharply to the base of the first big waterfall! Here we can swim behind the falls and get a great massage. To visit the next two falls you need to climb a narrow, steep trail, but it is worth it! A small waterfall with a good sized pool is first, then a spectacular split fall of 50 feet or more thunders down into a huge swimming pool that is at least 10 ft deep. Scrambling the rocks and enjoying the water, you will have a couple of hours to enjoy these great falls set in true wilderness. We only allow a maximum of 10 people per visit, so it never feels crowded.

After you have enjoyed swimming and exploring, we head back through the forest, and if lucky we may see squirrel monkeys or white-faced capuchins. From Camp we have another adventure crossing Rio Sorpresa a few times before reaching the cars.

We want to keep Sylvan Falls a wilderness area with as little pollution and trash as humanly possible. We ask that you do not bring plastic bottles or wrappers onto the site, and please do not apply sunscreen. You can use zinc oxide or a long-sleeved shirt. If you applied sunscreen earlier the same day that is OK.

For more information and to book your visit, please contact me: fiona.reid7243 at gmail.com

Naturalist | Author | Illustrator