Fila Brujo, Nubes and Mata de Café form a wall of mountains north of playa Matapalo creating a basin that catches rain to fill Quebrada Salto and the Río Portalón building them from trickling streams to tumbling rivers in just a few short kilometers.
On the south side of the Coastal highway the Portalón slows, widens and joins the mangrove forests and lagoons backing Playas Matapalo and Savegre creating one of the largest and most beautiful estuary reserves in Costa Rica. The northwestern end starting at the Río Naranjo is protected by a little known segment of Manuel Antonio National Park and the southeastern part by the Portalón National Wildlife Refuge.
Trails, Waterfalls & Adventures
We spent a couple of nights in the rustic cabins on stilts above the river and spent our days hiking to the waterfalls and swimming holes on the river. We got lucky with a particularly hot sunny day in mid-rainy season and decided to skip the trail and do a bit of canyoning walking, swimming and tumbling down the river about 3 km.
It rained nearly all night each night but that didn’t stop us from frog hunting.
Getting There and Staying There
25 km south of Quepos (Manuel Antonio) and 18 km north of Dominical on the central Pacific coast the rainforested hills of Portalón are protected by a wildlife refuge established in part as a tax shelter for the Portasol housing development. The easiest way to visit is to rent one of the vacation homes or stay in the cabinas operated by the real estate group.
You may be able to get permission to enter the reserve for a day hike if you stop at the office near the entrance.
Pictures from Portalón