Getting Around Puerto Viejo
Bribri lies south of Cahuita, approximately 10 kilometers inland
from the Caribbean Coast.
It is the administrative center for all the Indian reservations
in the neighboring area.
The Indian influence is first apparent in the town itself.
Bribri has little by way of tourist attractions, but does provide
a bank for changing currency, a post office, a public telephone,
and a hospital, set up by the Department of Health for the inhabitants
of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca and the Indian reservations.
White sand beaches fringed with coconut palms, a relaxing atmosphere,
and a total absence of hectic activities or stress attract young
Backpackers mingle with Rastafarian who wear their hair in meter-long
dreadlocks. Nights are dedicated to never-ending parties and an
seemingly endless supply of tropical pleasures.
There are three beaches near the village. One is on the other side
of the Punta Cahuita cliffs and is protected by a coral reef. Another
one, which is less frequented, is several kilometers long and lies
north of Cahuita. The third beach stretches toward Cahuita National
The village of Manzanillo, named after the ancient towering manzanillo
tree that stood on the village plaza until it died in the 1940s,
lies 12 kilometers east of Puerto Viejo and forms the gateway to
the Gandoca Manzanillo Game Preserve.
A trail leads from the village up to Punta Mona (Monkey Point,
which is said to have been named by Columbus himself after the many
howler monkeys he found there) and Gandoca Lagoon, a 50-meterdeep
lagoon with two outlets to the sea.
South of the small settlement of Gandoca is an area where rare
red mangroves are still to be found.
Especially good hikers can continue to the Sixaola River, which
forms the border with Panama.
Reserva Biologica Hitoy Cerere:
The Reserva Biologica Hitoy Cerere is 30 kilometers, as the crow
flies, inland from the Caribbean Coast.
The preserve is located at the foot of the Cordillera de Talamanca
at an altitude of 150 to 1,000 meters.
The preserve contains more than 9,000 hectares, and is difficult
to reach. It is virtually undeveloped: not surprisingly, it is also
one of the least-visited parks in Costa Rica; no more than 500 people
visit the preserve each year. It is surrounded by three Indian reservations:
Estrella, Telire and Talamanca.
Hitoy Cerere is most important as a watershed for drinking water
needed by the people who live on the coast, and as protection for
the tropical evergreen rain forest from inevitable lumber operations.
Many large and small rivers flow through the park. Water is not
a problem; the park receives an annual rainfall of 4,000 to 7,000
The Indians who originally lived in the area give the park its
name. Hitoy and Cerere are Indian names for two of the rivers in
The overland road ends on the Caribbean coast at Puerto Limon.
Today the city has 55,000, mostly black, inhabitants, but it is
honored as the birthplace of Costa Rica's "white" history.
In 1502, Christopher Columbus landed on the small offshore island
of Uvita, dropped anchor and went ashore in the belief he had arrived
at the Kingdom of Siam.
Columbus named the island La Huerta, "The Orchard," after
the lush green land on the opposite shore.
Isla Uvita is now a protected historic area, reachable from Puerto
Limon by boat. It has trails that take the visitor around its rugged
stone cliffs and caves.
The colorful mansions in the former center, with their fanciful
wrought-iron balconies, are falling to ruin.
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to Say, House for Rent in the Beautiful Tropical Paradise, Puerto
Viejo de Talamanca, Puerto Viejo de Limon, Costa Rica