Parque Eólico Santa Ana Hike Guide: Costa Rica
Parque Eólico Santa Ana Hike Guide: Costa Rica

Parque Eólico Santa Ana Hike Guide: Costa Rica

San Jose—Costa Rica’s capital city—doesn’t boast a huge number of things to do. However, roughly 18 km away and a few hundred metres higher than the city is Parque Eólico Santa Ana (Wind Park Santa Ana).

There is an exciting yet challenging hike you can do to reach the wind park. This isn’t just an adventurous escape from the city. It’s also one of the best ways to see panoramic views of San Jose and the surrounding landscapes.

In this guide, I’ll explain the hike to Parque Eolico Santa Ana. Read on to find out how to get to the trail head with public transport, detailed information about the trail, and practical tips to make the adventure as enjoyable as possible.

Table of contents

What is Parque Eólico Santa Ana?

Parque Eolico Santa Ana, also known as Parque Eolico Valle Central (Central Valley Wind Project), is a renewable energy installation just outside of San Jose.

The energy is generated by 17 massive wind turbines that are perched atop a steep ridge above the town of Santa Ana. The ridge is close to the Escazu Mountains and on a clear day can be seen from San Jose.

Clouds roll over the top of mountains.

What makes Parque Eolico Santa Ana a must-have experience in the San Jose area are the spectacular views in all directions.

Not only do the views overlook San Jose, you can also see the Cerros Caraigres (Caraigres Mountains). These peaks dominate the skyline and give you a taste, albeit from a distance, of the wild nature that Costa Rica is famous for.

Mountains behind a valley.

How to get to Parque Eólico Santa Ana hike trail by bus

Getting to the trail by public transport isn’t too complicated. It does need a bit of explaining though as you’ll need to take 2 buses and then walk.

The first bus is from San Jose to Santa Ana. It costs 530 CRC ($1.2 US) one way and takes around 30 minutes. You need to get the bus from Costado Sur Parque Beneméritos De La Patria in San Jose and get off at Maria Bonita in Santa Ana. This is a popular route so buses should come regularly.

From Maria Bonita you now need to head to Matinilla. This second bus journey takes around 25 minutes and costs 350 CRC ($0.75 US). You need to get off at the bus stop Provisional.

The bus from Maria Bonita to Matinilla only comes once an hour and is pretty unreliable. Make sure to be at the Maria Bonita bus stop at least 10 minutes before the hour so you don’t miss it. That said, the bus could also arrive well after the hour.

A bus waits on a road.
The bus stop in Matinillo

Taking buses in San Jose can be confusing. Published schedules are often outdated and buses usually just have hand-written signs in the windscreen with destinations on them. The way to know if it’s the right bus is to see if there is a sign for your destination in the windscreen as the bus approaches.

You can also ask any locals waiting at the bus stop too. I found that Costa Ricans were always willing to help me find the right bus.

Parque Eólico Santa Ana trail guide

  • Distance: 3.5 km
  • Duration: 1 h 30 min
  • Difficulty: hard

The hike starts from the Provisional bus stop. At the bus stop you can see that the road forks. Take the right fork and walk up the steep, paved hill. This is just a glimpse of the challenging trail soon to come.

Follow the road and shortly the paved surface turns to dirt road. Not long after and the dirt road will split into 3. Here you need to take the middle track bending to the left downhill. Continue past the houses built on metal stilts and cross the stream.

A house built on metal stilts.

Now you join a hiking trail and the challenge really begins. From here it’s pretty much steep, uneven and rocky underfoot the whole way. It’s technically challenging and there are a couple of spots where you’ll need to scramble. Luckily, the trail is obvious the whole way so you won’t stray from it.

I should say now that in some parts of the trail landslides have created gorges. In these sections the trail is narrow and comes close to the edge of the gorges. Take extra care and, if you don’t feel safe, consider turning back.

A gorge. A walking path runs alongside it.
Footsteps mark the narrow trail passing along one of the gorges

As you climb the trail you pass through open sections with views of the valley, a forested section and breaks in the tree coverage with views of distant mountains and volcanoes. The sounds of insects, including roaring cicadas, fill the air. The combination of incredible sights and sounds is a welcomed assault on the senses.

Parque Eolico Santa Ana

The trail leads you right up the top of the ridge to the foot of the wind turbines. Here you can appreciate their massive scale and enjoy the breathtaking views.

Wind turbines standing atop hills.

Head up the hill to the right and at the top you’ll find a gate passing through the barbed wire fence. From here you can drop back down the hill to a grassy plateau overlooking the valley. In the distance you’ll see Cerros Caraigres. It’s a great spot to rest and eat something while taking in the scenery.

A countryside scene. The photographers legs are visible at the bottom of the frame.
A couple sits under a parasol. They are overlooking a valley.

Essential tips for the Parque Eólico Santa Ana hike

You can ensure yourself the best Parque Eolico Santa Ana hiking experience with these tips.

  • Take sunscreen – stretches of the trail have no tree coverage exposing you to the sun
  • Take lots of water – you will get thirsty fast during this hike. I recommend at least 2 L of water
  • Take snacks – you’ll burn lots of calories and the energy park is a beautiful place to rest and refuel your body
  • Bring cash – buses only take cash and having smaller notes is better
  • Wear proper shoes – I recommend wearing hiking boots and definitely nothing less than decent running shoes

More Costa Rica adventure travel advice on A World Over

I hope you enjoy the hike to Parque Eólico Santa Ana. It’s a killer of a trail but the challenge is well worth the reward. Feel free to let me know in the comments how you get on.

A bard wire fence. Beyond it are mountains.

I’d also appreciate it if you can leave a comment about any further degradation to the trial. The sections affected by landslides are already risky enough, so it’ll be important to know if these have become worse.  

Related: How to get to La Sabana Park San Jose | What to do in Samara Costa Rica

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