We wanted to drive from Tamarindo to Playa Mal Pais and the only route is an inland highway taking about 2 1/2 hours - that's the recommended way to go and the only one that shows up on Google Maps or on GPSs ... but where's the fun in that?
Route 160 is 200km of dirt road that hugs the Pacific coastline of the Nicoya peninsula in Costa Rica.
Unfortunately, the road is not really a road. There are a lot of points blocked off by crocodile infested rivers that simply don't have a bridge or a way to cross. We were told by locals and longterm American visitors that it can't really be driven, and that all the time people try and end up abandoning their cars .... but I think that just made us want to do it more.
We drove the Route 160 the entire way to the Southern most tip of the Nicoya; along the coast and up into the mountains, stopping briefly along the way to navigate around wild fires burning up in the jungle due to the dry season, the tires precariously dangling inches (not feet) from 400 foot vertical drop cliff edges, a couple wrong turns, a quick stop to check out some grunting howler monkeys, dogs chasing our car, plenty of other wildlife crossings with some near misses, getting stuck behind trucks, busses, scooters, ATVs and pickup trucks filled with live chickens and of course the croc infested river crossings in our rented Toyota Rav4 which we paid a lot of money to insure so we could mess it up as much as we wanted.
The trip took about 4 1/2 hours and we just made it before sundown (which would have stopped us dead in our tracks, the road could not be driven after dark).
It was well worth the time and the risk as we got to see parts of the country side barely any 'tourists' get to see and it gave us bragging rights to all the people we met along our trip. And people were genuinely impressed, some didn't even believe us.
Here is a time lapse of the journey.
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