Complete Guide to Visiting Sabanas Esperanza in La Amistad International Park, Costa Rica

Sabanas Esperanza. La Amistad International Park, Costa Rica. The valley sunrise. Complete Guide to Visiting Sabanas Esperanza in La Amistad International Park Costa Rica

Table of content

Chronicle of a trip to Sabanas Esperanza.

Often, travelers who come to Costa Rica and visit Drake Bay and Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula ask me about additional and different alternatives they can discover. Sometimes, they don’t even know about La Amistad International Park.

Well, did you know about the Water Route South Pacific? The Water Route South Pacific is a set of experiences that tourists can enjoy from the Panama border to San Isidro de El General.

Today, I want to share my experience of one of those experiences, my trip to Sabanas Esperanza.

I was invited by a women’s organization called ASOMOBI, located in a little town known as Biolley de Buenos Aires, at the foothills of the Talamanca mountain range. It took 5 seconds to convince me.

Sabanas Esperanza is one of the most wonderful and unknown destinations in this part of the world. Located in the largest biological park in Costa Rica, La Amistad International Park.

La Amistad International Park is a huge and diverse natural reserve located between the borders of Costa Rica and Panama. It is the largest reserve in Costa Rica and is very well-known among biologists all over the world. The park is also known as PILA.

Locating from 1400 meters above sea level, It contains a very different biodiversity from what you can see in parks like Corcovado in Drake, or Monteverde.

I you want more information about the wonders of PILA, you can read more here

How to get to La Amistad International Park?

PILA has several access points, similar to Corcovado which has Sirena station, San Pedrillo station, etc.

You can enter PILA from the Atlantic sector or the Pacific sector of Costa Rica. If you want to enter from the Pacific, there are different stations distributed along the route back from Drake Bay and San Jose. They are the majestic mountains that you can see on your right.

The most well-known entry points are located in Buenos Aires. In the area, there are two access points, one that takes you to Valle del Silencio via Altamira, and another that takes you to Sabanas Esperanza, via Biolley.

If you are traveling towards San José, you enter from the road to San Vito de Coto Brus and then turn off at Potrero Grande, you can see the route on the map. The road is easily accessible and from Puerto Jimenez or Drake Bay, you are about two hours away by car.

It is advisable to take advantage and stay a couple of nights in the local hotels. There are several excellent accommodations, including ASOMOBI, ASOPROLA, and Hotel Palo Alto among many others.

Once you finish reading, you will understand why the recommendation is to stay two or three nights in the place.

What are Sabanas Esperanza? 

In Spanish, Esperanza means optimism and faith, it is an evocative name, it means faith in a better world, more human, more empathetic, and optimism about having a better world for our children and grandchildren.

Sabanas translates as The savannahs. Is a formation of grass, with little presence of trees, but don’t let this deceive you, these savannas are surrounded by endless primary forests, which you will undoubtedly get to know.

Unfortunately, much of this savanna ecosystem has now fallen into the hands of transnational pineapple plantations, with Sabanas Esperanza being one of the last refuges of this ecosystem.

Sabanas Esperanza are three savannas. They are located between 1400 and 1800 meters above sea level, belonging to an ecosystem called the humid savannas of southern Costa Rica.

The first savanna or lower savanna measures 33 hectares, the second savanna or intermediate savanna is around 13 hectares, and the third savanna, the upper savanna, is the largest, measuring 57 hectares.

Between the second and third savannas, there is a marsh. According to the locals’ legends, if you arrive at dawn you can observe the fairies fluttering in the middle of the rising mist, the gleam of dew, and the pearls of spider webs. I was there, the spectacle was epic, and only the fairies were missing. But I don’t doubt they were watching us from the forest.

How to book the tour? 

My recommendation is to book the tour at least three days in advance. You can do it at, search for Sabanas Esperanza. There are detailed instructions in the tour description. Once you make the reservation, very friendly staff will contact you to coordinate details.

Where to stay? 

For lodging, there are various options. There is ASOMOBI and there is also Hotel Palo Alto, there is also an offer of small lodgings and lodges with excellent prices. There is usually availability.

What’s to expect? 

The hike will start early morning and return afternoon, 8 hours of intense hiking will dissuade you from wanting to leave Biolley and drive away that same day. I recommend taking a nap, resting, and in the evening, taking the night hike or participating in Jimmy’s delicious wine and craft beer tasting. Another unique experience.

The next day you have more possibilities, gastronomic visits, coffee tours, cocoa tours, waterfalls, enjoy baths of crystal clear natural water. That would be my program, and if you want to enjoy the ultimate star observation experience in the purest darkness, ask about the Three Hills Star Observation tour, a nearby town. Essential Costa Rica at its best.

The trip to Sabanas Esperanza.

As I write this, Jimmy is 66 years old. He will probably be your guide. But… be careful…, his slim build makes him move and walk with the ease of a teenager… and he will do it all day long, his ease of walking compares with his ease of telling you anecdotes and interesting details of the place, historical and biological facts. Jimmy knows them all.

At five in the morning, they pick you up in a car and after 15 minutes, you are ready to start the ascent, the hike will last 8 hours.

At the beginning of the journey, the chiaroscuro colors of blue and orange in the distance announce that dawn is coming soon. The mists and clouds of the valley begin to hint. The sensations of connection with the universe begin to take hold of you.

You will be provided with water and breakfast. Because, yes, breakfast is taken in the savannas, forget about the omelet with steaming coffee on the breakfast table, it will be under the shade of a nance tree and sitting on a hard stone…! Ahh but what views!

The sunrise will surprise you while walking in the mountains. Among the trees, sunlight filters forming figures of shadows and magical lights on the leaves of the forest.

When you reach the marsh, in the dry season (December-April) is dry, you will see hundreds of spider webs, which with their multitude of dew drops that look like diamonds, the rising mist, and the first rays of the sun, form and offer you a spectacle, exclusive for you, of total magic, total magic.

In the third savanna, I had another extraordinary encounter. The “chiquizas”..! I don’t know how to write it in English, I don’t think the term exists. They are large wasps, larger than African bees, they nest and live solitarily on the ground, their sting is very painful, but they never attack you.

First, we heard a buzzing in the distance, something like the sound of engines very far away, many engines, Jimmy just said to wait and see..! The noise got louder, very loud, and suddenly thousands of chiquizas, in a swarm fluttering together. Wow! Another gift from nature on this trip. I had the opportunity to film them and you can see it here.. LINK. Interesting is that they are always there. If you go, you will see them!

By then, the views from the savannas were overwhelming. After the third savanna, we entered the primary forest of the park. We arrived at a stream known as the Jilgueros stream. The jilguero is a bird, its song, tone, and sweetness are impossible to describe.

It’s time to be quiet and listen to the hundreds of sounds of the forest, the cicadas of summer, the jilgueros, the trogons. And many many more birds.

Although the desire to continue was great, it was time to return, the path continued but it was for another hike, another tour with different logistics.

We finished our trip at one thirty in the afternoon. Very, very tired but extraordinarily happy. I am very grateful to Jimmy and Asomobi who were my sponsors on this trip.

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