Travel, Nature

Afoot or on a Bike: Traverse the Trails of the Las Catalinas Dry Forest

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At sea level, you can see white-crested waves crashing on the sand of playa Danta beach. Above, 280 meters up, is the highest point of Las Catalinas with a look out point that reveals the vast blue Pacific ocean that bathes the Santa Cruz coast.

From the summit, you can see a web of world-class trails, unique in the country, that take you from the lowest to the highest point on a bike or afoot at a low price.

The network of private trails that Las Catalinas offers was designed eight years ago, before the first stone of the property was every placed. According to Michael Garcia, director of environmental and community affairs, 80 percent of the land (370 hectares, approximately) has been dedicated to conserving the dry forest.

They built more than 30 kilometers of zig-zagging circuits for mountain biking and hiking so that the forest not only conserves local water sources and captures carbon, but so it also offers spaces for people to enjoy contact with nature.

“Eventually, we want to create a wildlife refuge as the law states,” Garcia says.

The trails were the idea of Las Catalinas founder, Charles Brewer, a U.S. businessman who is passionate about mountain biking. The circuit has 25 kilometers of trails classified by the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) a biking association headquartered in the United States that seeks to create sustainable biking trails that have a minimal impact on nature.

The network of trails at Las Catalinas has 25 kilometers of mountain biking trails that experts and beginners can take and marvel at the landscape. Photo: Las Catalinas / Bike ListPhoto: César Arroyo

Besides the adrenaline provided by the mountain biking trails, there are six additional kilometers exclusively for walking. They are shorter trails that, while not extremely difficult, have steps and steeper slopes that lead to the lookout points.

The areas that require more physical conditioning are clearly identified on the map that you can download here.

What do I need to know before going?

The Las Catalinas trail system is operated by Pura Vida Ride. If you don’t have a bike, you can rent one there at pricest that start at $50.

If you have your own bike or just want to enjoy the walking trails, it costs $5. It costs the same if you want to go on a short route for 20 minutes or walk through the longer sections, which can take up to 2 hours.

Their hours are from Monday through Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. During rainy season, it’s ideal to go before 3 p.m. and in dry season at the crack of dawn in order to avoid hot, midday temperatures.

Animals that live in the area also look for ways to escape the sun and heat. That’s why the company offers tours every Thursday at 6 p.m. when the jungle starts to wake up.

“The other night we saw a puma and also ran into snakes, coati, foxes, deer and ocelot,” says Jason Albernathy, one of the owners of Pura Vida Ride.

Other Trails with a Sea Breeze

Nosara Trails: Nosara Civic Association has a free option to see the natural beauty of Guiones and Pelada beaches. You can contact them at [email protected]  or download the map in this link.

Werner Sauter National Wildlife Refuge: It protects forests and mangrove swamps near playa Garza beach in the district of Nosara. Tel:. 2656 0920