The magical forest of Prussia

I just realised that this time in Costa Rica we visited some of the most remote and unique places in the country. Costa Rica is home to a variety of rare and exotic landscapes and if you come here is a shame not to visit. A place not very known by the tourist, but yet incredibly beautiful is the Forest of Prusia.

This is not a forest like any other, it is a very special one. The more you advance in the forest you’ll see that the landscape changes every few meters and it also hides a very special tree.. El Arbol Embrujado, in English the Haunted tree. This place is a true wonder of nature, it is an impressive place where you will be overwhelmed by how magic is it.

The Prusia Forest is located in the province of Cartago and is part of the Irazú Volcano National Park. The city of Cartago is very beautiful and it worth a visit. In the city you can find some of the most culturally and historically important spots in the area, in the rest of the province you can explore some of the most spectacular natural places in Costa Rica.


The Prusia forest is a fantastic place to enjoy a natural setting filled with stunning walking trails, gigantic trees and a variety of wildlife. It is the ideal place to escape from the city for a day and immerse yourself in nature.

How to get to Prusia Forest

You can access the forest through several routes, depending on where you want to start. We booked a hotel in the Provence of Cartago, only 25 minutes drive from the forest. I don’t know if there is public transport to get here, because we came by car. If you come from San Jose the drive is about 1.5 hours depending on traffic.

tickets, hours & entry fee

The national park it is opened every day, including holidays and Sundays and it can be visited between 8:00 AM and 3:30 PM. The price depends on the season but we payed 15$ per person in October. If you want to have a meal after the hike, there is a restaurant with great food.

This is the perfect plan for one day tour. We visited the forest the day we had our flight back to Madrid. The forest has several stunning scenic overlooks, beautiful trails and great wildlife.

a perfect one day tour

The hike is not a super difficult one but it’s a hike so try to wear comfortable hiking shoes, bring plenty of water with you, a rain coat in case it rains, a jacket to keep you warm, because the higher you go into the forest, the chillier it gets. This park has three levels of difficulty, which all together make up a distance of 16 kilometres that cross the forest. The hiking trails are the main attraction for almost all types of travellers. Any path you decide to see is beautiful, but here are the most visited ones :

  • Los Abuelos
  • The Haunted Tree
  • El Puma
  • La Gruta
  • Chiverrales

how much time :  we hiked for 1,5 hours until we reached el Arbol Embrujado

difficulty: moderate

distance: approximately 7 kilometers hike

The hike is very beautiful, with the vegetation of tall pine and eucalyptus trees who gives a special charm to the forest. The maximum altitude here is 3100 meters and above 2800 meters of altitude it’s starting to show the first signs of little oxigen. It seems that I have mountains sickness and I don’t know if I was too bold or I just risked my health, but I wanted very much to do the hike and I did it and I am very proud of this!

The forest is a protected area not too long before 1955, with the idea of protecting the flora and fauna and various ecosystems and wildlife in the area. Even thought the forest is very big, about 2,300 hectares, it isn’t completely opened to the public. Visitors have access only to a few paths of the forest.

The forest has plenty of dwarf trees such as the ridge and shrubs that dominate the landscape until reaching 3100 meters of altitude. The higher you get into the forest you’ll see that there are only birds around and the probability of meeting an animal is low.

That is because bids are more used with little oxygen than other animals, or humans. I must say that I was very impressed by how beautiful this place is. I visited many stunning and unique forests all my life, but this one in particular it looks mysterious and like a place from a fairy tale.

 The place is literally like an enchanted forest of a fairy tale

the Haunted Tree

A reason why the Prussian Forest it is so famous, is because of the Arbol Embrujado. You have to follow the Los Abuelos trail if you want to reach it. It is said that the haunting aspects of the dead tree trunk are the work of the enchanted “mystical beings” that live in the park. I love everything mysterious and enchanted, so I was in awe with the place.

Its presence is impressive with dark coloured trunk and branches, against the contrasting background of light brown barks of the pine trees. In misty weather settings, this tree can give you chills down your spine. Well, that is the reason why has the name of Haunted Tree. Maybe in photos is not looking very spooky, but being close to it, you can feel its magic and enchantment. You start to understand why it is so visited and why everybody talks so much about it.

mysterious place
The mysterious el Arbol Embrujado
costa rica

hiking deer into the forest

If you want to, camping in the forest is it possible, but it will be a physical challenge because you have to hike until Cerro Retes and to get there, you must hike for approximately 5 kilometers through the forest until you reach the borders of the National Park, and believe me the hike with lack of oxygen is pretty rough. Don’t even think of a shortcut, there you can get only by foot. But the award is to camp in such a beautiful setting.

Cero Retes was originally one of the volcano’s many craters, before the climate dried considerably. Today is an irregular plain, harbouring otherworldly vegetation and dry gnarled trees. Once you are there you can enjoy the panoramic views over San José, Los Volcanes de Poás and many other places.

things to know before to visit Prusia Forest

Maybe you’re wondering when is the best time to visit Prusia. I think any time of the year has its magic. This is a humid forest where the average temperature ranges between 5 ° C and 15 ° C all year round. So in order to visit the forest, you must bring with you a warm jacket. But I wore a dress and I wasn’t cold at all and this comes from somebody who is always cold. It was a little bit chilly, but not super cold.

If you want to have a picnic in the forest, there are several areas for those who want to eat in the forest. You can bring food as long as you don’t leave any garbage in the forest. Forest, beach or any other natural setting, always be respectful! Enjoy the place and leave no trace!

Lighting fires is strictly prohibited, as well as hunting or disturbing the plant and animal species. And don’t plan on taking home any natural souvenirs!

Prusia Forest is an excellent option to spend a lovely day in nature and it totally worth the visit. For us this was one of our favourite place to visit. The surroundings are simply magical, the variety of trees and birds we got to see. We felt like we are part of a fairy tale story. When we will come back to Costa Rica, we have this forest in our plan.

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