Getting there & away
Both Zurqui and Quebrada González stations are on Hwy 32 between San José and Guápiles. Buses between San José and either Guápiles or Puerto Viejo can drop you off 2km from the entrance, but pickup on the major freeway will be dangerous and difficult.
Barva station can be reached by following the decent paved road north from Heredia through Barva and San José de la Montaña to Sacramento, where a signed, 3km-long, 4WD-only trail leads north to the entrance.
El Ceibo and Magasay can be accessed via rough roads from La Virgen.
Rainforest Aerial Tram
The brainchild of biologist Don Perry, a pioneer of rain-forest canopy research, the Rainforest Aerial Tram (257 5961; www.rainforesttram.com; adult/student & child US$50/27.50) is a highly recommended splurge to the heights of the cloud forest in an airborne gondola.
The pricey entrance fee is worthwhile, as it includes a trained guide who can point out all the small and important things you’ll otherwise miss, and who also leads the optional hike through the 400-hectare reserve, contiguous with Parque Nacional Braulio Carrillo. Although the area is rich with wildlife, the sheer density of the vegetation makes observing animals difficult.
The 2.6km aerial-tram ride takes 40 minutes each way, affording a unique view of the rain forest and unusual plant-spotting and birding opportunities. Amazingly, the whole project was constructed with almost no impact on the rain forest. A narrow footpath follows the tram and all 250, 000kg of construction material was carried in on foot or by a cable system to avoid erosion, with the exception of the 12 towers supporting the tram that were brought in by helicopter by the Nicaraguan Air Force (needless to say, pacifist Costa Rica is decidedly lacking in air support).
From the parking lot a truck takes you about 3km to the tram-loading point, where there is a small exhibit area, restaurant and gift shop. Here you can see an orientation video, and there are short hiking trails that you can use for as long as you want. Tram riders should be prepared for rain – although the cars have tarpaulin roofs, the sides are open to the elements.
Driving from San José, the well-signed turnoff to the tram is just past the national-park entrance, on your right. To get here by public transport from San José, take the bus for Guápiles from Terminal Caribe (US$1.50, 1¼ hours), departing hourly from 6:30am to 7pm, and ask the driver to let you out at the teleferico. Tram staff will help you flag down a return bus.