First – get a map or GPS! Navigating San Jose is tricky so ask your hotel or car rental company for clear directions on how to reach the Interamericana (highway) going south to San Isidro de General.
Remember that destinations may appear close on the map but elevations, mountain passes and certain road conditions make traveling much longer than you think!
Travel with warm clothing and wet weather gear available as well as some emergency supplies. There are a number of places to stop for food and a rest en route, but gas stations are limited, especially between Cartago and San Isidro where you will be passing over the cold Cerro de la Muerte.
From San Jose:
Via the Interamericana Highway (Highway 2) south for 140km
Once you’re out of San Jose it will take approximately 3 hours to reach San Isidro de El General.
From San Isidro:
Proceed south on the highway for about 1 km (from the center of town) passing over a bridge and past a big supermarket called ‘Maxi Bodega’ on your left until you see the sign for ‘Parque Nacional Chirripo’ shortly after, also on the left. At the lights turn left up this road. After about 8 km, at Rivas, watch for the Cerro Chirripo Park sign where the paved road ends: turn right onto an uphill dirt road. Continue for about 11 km, passing through Canaan to San Gerardo de Rivas (elevation 1350 meters).
Bus from San Jose:
Take a cab to the MUSOC bus station. You will want to buy a bus ticket for San Isidro del General – buses leave hourly every day from 5:30am to 5:30pm. It is important to be there at least one hour in advance to get your tickets, (office hours are from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.). The beautiful journey to San Isidro will take approximately 3 hours.
In San Isidro it’s advisable to take a 4X4 taxi for about $30 to San Gerardo. Taxis often come by the bus depot but if you can’t find a 4X4 or a red, legal taxi head towards the town centre (by the big church). To get there take a right out of the bus depot and head downhill. Take a second right at the MacDonalds and the centre is on your left a few blocks down.
If you have time and you want to take the local bus here are details of the service between San Isidro and San Gerardo de Rivas:
Bus from San Isidro to San Gerardo
The bus leaves from the Bus Station in the Mercado (market) south of the cathedral plaza. The blue and white bus marked San Gerardo leaves at the following times Mondays – Saturdays:
*5:45, 8:30, 11:30 a.m., 2:30, 5:30, 8:00 p.m.
Sundays and holidays:
*9:30 a.m., 2:00 and 6:00 p.m.
Buses to San Isidro leave from the San Gerardo plaza at the following times:
*5:15, 7:00, 10:00 a.m., 1:00, 4:00, 6:45 p.m.
Sundays and holidays:
*7:00 and 11:30 a.m., 4:00 p.m.
*as of February 9, 2015
The fare is 1100 colones (roughly $2)
More information at www.hernandezsolis.com