Mission and Vision
The Gecko Restaurant
This is a small open sided, tin roofed platform that you should probably only consider as an emergency shelter. The refugees is about half a kilometer from the peak. It has walls and bunk bed-type sleeping racks. If you want to attempt the climb, be prepared. Carry lots of water, and a system for purifying more. You will need a sleeping bag (it snowed lightly on us New Years Eve on the peak), food, and a small stove for the night in the refuge.
And please go heavy on the sunscreen! This close to the equator, at this altitude, you can get so badly burned that you end up in the hospital. You will also need to make a reservation through the park system. If you call the ranger station, you may be told that there is a long waiting list. If you stop by the ranger station and ask for a permit it may be issued on the spot.
While many visitors are attracted by the challenge of conquering Cerro Chirripó Grande, the forests in the park are amazing. The diversity as you climb from the pastures at 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) elevation near San Gerardo de Rivas, to the tundra ecosystem near the peak at 3,819 meters (12,530 feet) keeps small armies of biologists fascinated for their entire careers. Above the pastures, you enter the park in tropical evergreen lower mountain forest and move upwards into the mountain rainforests where you will find giant oak trees 50 meters (165 feet) tall or more. These emergent giants tower over the other trees that average 30 meters (100 feet), and the understory of ferns and bamboo. The trail follows such steep hillsides and valley walls that you can often look out into the canopy of the trees rooted hundreds of feet downhill. You will have a chance to see the epiphytic ecosystem up close and personal. In some ways it is even better than a canopy tour, because your feet are planted firmly on the ground, you can spend as much time as you want, and it's free. As you climb higher, the vegetation hugs lower to the ground. If you look down into the crystal water of the streams, you will see trout. Above the tree line, you see cactus and scrub. Conditions also become harsher and by the time you reach the refuge, you wonder if you are somewhere on the Colorado plateau.