When visitors start planning their trip to the Manuel Antonio region of Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the first places that come up in a search. With almost 1/2 a million visitors each year, it is a popular park. As a visitor, we are always looking for places that are a bit “off the beaten path” allowing us to see unique animals and feel the experience of being almost entirely alone in the jungle. If that’s what you are looking for too, then check out our tips for visiting Rainmaker Park (Costa Rica).
History of Rainmaker Conservation Project
Rainmaker was once owned by a rice farmer who farmed the nearby land. Faced with debt due to drought and poor crops, he was forced to sell. Although facing financial constraints, the farmer didn’t want to sell the land to the highest bidder (knowing the trees would be cut and the land forever changed). Instead, he reached out to a friend Mauricio Gutierrez who shared the farmer’s vision to preserve the land.
Unfortunately, just days before finalizing the transfer of the land and payment, Mauricio drowned nearby trying to save a child. This meant the purchase of the land was in jeopardy and a logging company was ready to take over the purchase.
Thankfully, Ann Gutierrez (the wife of Mauricio) and her two children were able to gather enough funds to secure the purchase, knowing how much it meant to Mauricio.
Since purchasing the property 1993, Ann and her two children have worked tirelessly to preserve the land, the mountain, and the eco-system by allowing visitors to delight with the variety of wildlife, flora, and fauna that Rainmaker possesses.
The rainmaker conservation project is unique in its untouched and plethora of biodiversity. It is designed to be minimally invasive to the surrounding land and the trails are often changed and redesigned to allow the forest to “take a break” from foot traffic. The hanging bridges can be removed easily and without damage to the trees that help to support this unique view from above.
Planning your visit to Rainmaker Park (Costa Rica)
Rainmaker park is a bit “off the beaten path” so it will require private transportation or setting up a tour in order to reach its location. The entrance to Rainmaker is just off Hwy 34 (you’ll see the signs) and is approximately 30 minutes from downtown Quepos and the hotels near Manuel Antonio National Park.
The roads are currently being paved (2019), we visited in November and there were a few sections that weren’t quite finished.
What to Expect During Your Visit to Rainmaker
Once you reach the gates of Rainmaker, you’ll see a grassy parking area off to your left. Then continue along the road up to the building. A gentleman will greet you at the desk and give you information about the park, as well as take payment for your visit. You can choose to pay $20 per person for a self-guided walk through the forest on its 1.5-mile trail system or you can elect to pay for a private guided tour with transportation for $75 per person; $55 per person children ages 6-11; kids under 6 are free.
In addition, Rainmaker offers a night tour in the evenings. They do not explore the entire trail system, but you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy nocturnal animals as well as many frogs around the pond.
Ann and I spoke before our visit and was kind enough to provide us with a guide during our visit, so this review covers having a private guide along the trails, along with lunch at Rainmaker.
During your visit, you’ll be able to explore 1.5 miles of trail systems surrounded by primary forests (meaning the forest has never been cut). You’ll ascend stairs up into the mountains for views across the forest top and cross multiple hanging bridges for a unique view of the forest.
The trail is recommended for active visitors who are able to climb multiple stairs and deal with slippery conditions. Our five year old was able to complete the entire loop without much difficulty, but he is an active child. I recommend a child carrier for children under the age of three.
Along the trail, you’ll be able to see a vast array of wildlife as well as unique plants and trees. With fewer visitors and less foot traffic, wildlife is easier to see and you are likely to be able to enjoy your sightings completely alone.
In addition to the trails and hanging bridges, there are multiple waterfalls, including one where you can cool off in the waters below the falls. It’s a spectacular sight!
I highly recommend having a guide if seeing wildlife is a priority for you. During our 10 days in Costa Rica, we did a mix of hiring guides versus hiking on our own. Each time we had a guide, we saw dozens of animals including harder to find insects, frogs, and snakes.
Rainmaker Conservation Project is one of the few places to see the poison dart frog and our guide was able to find two! In addition, we spotted an eyelash pit viper and cat-eye snake.
Rainmaker is home to half of the plants and animals known in Costa Rica and is constantly studied by scientists and biologists around the world.
Our guide also pointed out lizards, the blue morpho butterfly and multiple birds along the way.
I highly suggest this fun laminated animals of Costa Rica guide help identify the animals that you spot along the way.
Rainmaker Aerial Walkways/Hanging Bridges
There are multiple hanging bridges located along the 1.5-mile trail system. They vary in length and distance from the ground. If you are scared of heights, then you may not enjoy this part of the tour.
Rainmaker’s aerial walkways are made from ladders, ropes, metal cables, and metal wire. Care should be taken for anyone with balance issues and with small children.
The bridges are constantly checked for safety and even our guide did safety checks along the way. However, they are a bit rudimentary and if you are highly safety conscious, they will likely concern you. We didn’t have any concerns, but we also like zip-lining and rappelling (just for reference).
You’ll encounter a set of cascading waterfalls at the bottom of the mountain before you continue along the path. This area is nice for a break and snack while enjoying the beauty of the falls.
From there, you’ll continue down to the larger waterfall that features a nice man-made swimming pool at the base of the falls. We forgot to bring our swimsuits, so we just enjoyed the other guests who were visiting after an ATV ride.
The last waterfall is just across the final hanging bridge and is a beautiful backdrop for weddings as well as family photos. It would certainly make for a unique destination wedding!
Lunch at Rainmaker
After your adventure in the forest, be sure to enjoy a traditional Costa Rican lunch of Casados. It is cooked up and served by two local ladies and is a steal at $7 per person. If you’d like to enjoy lunch, be sure to let the gentleman know before you start your hike. It will be ready for you when you emerge.
What to Wear/Bring to Rainmaker
Rainmaker is a forest and receives rain almost year-round with temperatures ranging from the high 70’s to the low 90’s year-round. It is recommended that you wear quick-dry clothing because you will work up a sweat with multiple stairs and bridge crossings.
I also recommend long pants and closed-toed shoes during jungle and forest hikes due to the risk of snakes and insects low to the ground. Hiking shoes will also help provide stability over uneven ground and slippery surfaces.
Here are our recommendations for gear to wear during your visit to Rainmaker Park in Costa Rica.
Click on the highlighted text or images above to grab any items you need for your upcoming trip!
Is Rainmaker Park (Costa Rica) safe for families? Yes! As with any forest trail system, you’ll need to exercise caution and make sure children won’t touch any wildlife or plants, but the trail is safe for families. I recommend a child carrier for children under the age of 3 due to the terrain and number of stairs. Also, be sure to hold children’s hands when crossing the hanging bridges.
Would you recommend a guided tour? This really depends on your budget and your plans while visiting Costa Rica. We enjoyed having a guided tour because it offered the ability to see a variety of plants and animals that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. We also had our own photographer! However, the trail system is well marked and easy to explore on your own.
How to get to Rainmaker from Quepos? You’ll need your own transportation, pay for a private guide including transportation or take a tour that includes a visit to Rainmaker. We did not take the ATV tour, but we ran across a group enjoying a dip in the waterfall from this tour company. If you drive from Quepos, it is about 30 minutes along paved and unpaved roads.
What do you recommend bringing for families with children? You will need a baby carrier for children under the age of 3. A stroller is NOT an option with multiple stairways, narrow paths, and unpaved trails. You’ll also want to bring plenty of water and snacks for breaks along the trail.
If time allows, I highly recommend a visit to Rainmaker Park in Costa Rica. We really enjoyed how quiet the trails were, the ability to see unique wildlife and the beauty of the entire park. We really enjoyed learning about all the conversation efforts that Ann and her two children have put into place so that this forest can be enjoyed for years to come.
Feel free to ask any questions by contacting me, leaving a comment or finding me on Facebook or Instagram. I created this travel blog to help other families to explore the world with their kids and I hope I’ve inspired you. Want to read more about Costa Rica? Check out my posts about our stay at nearby Tulemar, hiking in Manuel Antonio National Park, Parasailing and taking a Catamaran Cruise. Or head over to my destinations page and explore my interactive map, it’s pretty fun. Until next time!
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