In Costa Rica you can visit the Instituto Geográfico Nacional in San José (see below for details). The best place to order topographic maps of Costa Rica online is Omni Maps $14.95 to $17.95 each + SH
This chart shows the available topo maps and their names if you are attempting to determine which sheets you will need for your hiking, biking or 4WD adventure.
There is an out of print book of Costa Rican topographic maps that might be worth searching out (see below for details)
Topographic Maps of Costa Rica
The official government topographic maps of Costa Rica (Instituto Geográfico Nacional) come in two scales covering the entire country with either 133 sheets or 9 sheets.
The 9 map series (1:200,000 scale) is useful for 4WD and jeep roads, mountain biking and some hiking. Serious back country orienteering would require several sheets from the 133 map series (1:50,000 scale) – see available sheets and IGN naming convention. The elevation contours are 100 M (~330 ft.) on the large maps, and more detailed but vary by region on the smaller maps (10 – 30 meters typically).
A tiny section of the country – the San José metropolitan area (~20 km x 10 km) is theoretically available in the very detailed 1:10,000 scale map series. We’ve only ever seen a few sheets from this series and have no idea where you would get one if you needed it. These maps cover urban areas so not much in the way of trails.
The maps are based on a survey of Costa Rica completed in the 1970’s and early 1980’s and extremely out of date for roads and other man made features, but the geography has remained constant.
Buy the maps at the Instituto Geográfico Nacional in San José
The same topographic maps are available from the Costa Rican government for about half the online price and no shipping charges (because you have to pick them up). Unless your Spanish is excellent (phone 2202-0601) you will have visit the Instituto Geográfico Nacional west of San José 8:30-11:30 am, Monday through Friday to see what is currently available.
The Costa Rica National Institute of Geography is located in the headquarters of the National Registry on the third floor of wing 4. Tico address – Curridabat, opposite PriceSmart. Phone (506) 2202-0601, other contacts, GPS location 9.919358, -84.048886
Instituto Geográfico Nacional (IGN) sede central del Registro Nacional en Curridabat, frente a PriceSmart, en el tercer piso del Módulo 4. telefónico directo: (506) 2202-0601. Other contacts
Costa Rica, Nature Atlas and Guidebook
There is an excellent book that includes topographical maps of Costa Rica (the whole 9 map series described above, broken into 55, 9″ x 11″ full color pages) plus photos and descriptions of the national parks in Spanish and English. It is called Costa Rica, Nature Atlas and Guidebook. ISBN: 84-85389-92-1.
Unfortunately it was never widely available outside of Costa Rica and it is now out of print. We’ve seen copies of it in tourist shops for as much as $250 (originally $30). It might be worth it if you are planning a lot of hiking and biking. Sometimes you can find it used at Amazon for a few dollars but usually it’s priced at $100 or more.
We wore the cover off of our copy about 15 years ago but still carry it around in a folder. Great book.