The most convenient way to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica from the Central Valley is the Braulio Carrillo Highway or The Route of Death. It winds through the Braulio Carrillo National Park.
Top 7 Reasons Why the Braulio Carrillo is Called The Route of Death
- The highway, 6 lanes wide in some sections and 2 in others, literally goes through lush and juicy cloud forest. What are there a lot of in cloud forests? That’s right – clouds! At almost any time of day year round you can expect to be driving through clouds on the Braulio Carrillo.
- Lots of clouds means lots of rain. All that rain has to go somewhere and sometimes this creates big problems .
- Costa Rica is very geologically active – so the ground under the road is constantly moving. In the past year alone there have been 68 earthquakes greater than M1.5 in Costa Rica.
- Something like 80% of all goods shipped out of Costa Rica travel on the Braulio Carrillo- so that means lots of giant trucks with heavy loads.
- Mountains (elevation differences of 3,000 meters or 9,800 feet within the park)
- Costa Rican Drivers
- Tourist Drivers who don’t understand the rules of the road.
So this is a cloudy, rainy, twisty, steep road with lots of big scary trucks and the occasional landslide onto or underneath it. Lots of people get frustrated with the huge trucks lumbering up the hills and start to speed and make loco attempts (see number 6 and 7) to pass.
WARNING FOR PARENTS: If your kids like to fight in the car and you are about to drive through the Braulio Carrillo – you must make them understand that if they fight and you could get distracted and wreck – and everyone will die.
However, all this mortal danger makes getting to Limón’s gorgeous beaches that much sweeter.
Darkness and mosquitoes descended as we unpacked the car that July evening at Playa Chiquita. We applied the industrial strength bug spray I’d brought – but quickly realized we would need mosquito coils in our arsenal too.
The kids and I hopped back into the car to head over to the little grocery store in the jungle. It was there I realized Fiona had fully acclimated to our new home.
Inside the store was a display case with a few loaves of delicious-looking locally made bread. . . perfect for the starving mom and kids. When we went to grab a loaf, we noticed tons of tiny little ants scurrying inside the bread case and many were actually on the loaves of bread.
How many times over the past 15 years I have come running to the sound of Fiona’s blood-curdling screams to find her terrified by a bug in her room?
That night in the Caribbean jungle mini-super, she looked at the ants on the bread and said, “Whatever.” We took the bread back to our cabin and enjoyed it with dinner.
That night I carefully tucked the mosquito net around the bed I shared with Phineas, pointed a fan at us and fell fast asleep. A half an hour later I was awake and itchy, but too tired to do anything about it. This continued throughout the night and when the sun came up – I discovered the terrible truth. I had tucked six giant mosquitos into bed with us. They actually splattered when I smashed them.
I am happy to report that in spite of the gazillion mosquito bites, we remain Dengue, Zika and Chicungunya free.
We spent the next three days exploring the plentiful flora and fauna of Playa Chiquita, Cahuita National Park and the Gandoca Manzanillo Reserve. We saw lots of little blue land crabs, sloths, coatamundis, a whole family of howler monkeys and lots of cool insects and plants.
While we enjoyed our time at Yemanya Lodge – I have a suggestion for the owners: two hammocks for every cabin. My darling angels fought at least 4 times per day over the single hammock.
Have you ever visited Southern Limón? Do you have a favorite place to stay or eat? Please leave a comment and check back for updates as the Sandi Family explores the many wonders of Costa Rica!