Hacienda Baru – Animal Viewing Paradise


I’ve been to Costa Rica dozens of times as I do business there and I needed a break from work. I wanted to find an easy to access network of hiking trails in an area that’s not congested with tourists. While Costa Rica is beautiful the National Parks are small which means the hiking trails don’t offer much for privacy.

The only way to get around this is to find hiking trails that is located on private property.

Manuel Antonio is the most popular National Park in Costa Rica and with good reasons as it is a stunning park that offers a combination of coastal and jungle trails. Unfortunately it’s busy especially in high season. What I recently discovered is Hacienda Baru which is 45 minutes South of Manuel Antonio and offers just as much wildlife without any of the crowds.

Hacienda Baru is the name of the hotel and the wildlife refuge. For a small fee they allow you to hike the trails along the 330 hectares of land that they own. When I went I was the only person on the 7 kms (4.4 miles) of hiking trails.

I started by taking Strangler, Teak and Canal Trail which are on the side of the property which borders the ocean. These trails offer a nice walk but for many parts of the trail I felt like I was simply walking on someone’s private property. The best part of this trail is that it ends at a secluded beach that is raw and wild.

Once I finished these trails and returned to the main area I transitioned to Pizote Trail which is the opposite side of the property. This is when the hiking got interesting. This trail is an animal mecca. I saw white-faced monkeys, dozens of pigs, and a sloth. I went off the trail for a while in the hunt for the perfect picture of these magnificent monkeys. The pigs were a bit easier to find as it sounded like a train was crashing through the jungle once they approached. They are not exactly graceful animals.

And then I saw a sloth. All of this on a trail that is 1.5 kms each direction. This is quite possibly one of the best animal viewing hiking trails in all of Costa Rica.

Pizote Trail ends at the highway. Once you cross the highway you find yourself at Lookout Trail which is 2.5 kms long. This trail is the only difficult trail on property and as soon as you start the hike it’s pretty much uphill all the way to the top.

There’s no views until you reach the top but once there it’s very rewarding. From the look-out point magnificent views of the pacific coast are offered. Best of all you can stay and enjoy the view for as long as you want without interruption.

If you are looking for more options in the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, we recommend you visit the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary or Santa Teresa.