Territorio de Zaguates
On February 18th, 2017 my family and I woke up early on a rainy Saturday morning to check something wonderful off my bucket list. We drove 3 hours from Manuel Antionio/Quepos to Alajuela Costa Rica to attend a public hike at Territorio de Zaguates (Land of the Strays). The drive was enjoyable, it took us through the country side and through some colorful little towns.
The next part of the journey was up-up-up, yes I mean up, a narrow little road. When we reached the top there were already several cars ahead of us. Once you arrive you won’t be able to turn around, the road is narrow and fills up with visitors quickly. When you have arrived you wait at a large solid red gate, No peeking inside. If you are a dog lover, I saw another visitor to the facility describe the anticipation of the gate opening like the scene from Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory where all the people with the golden tickets were waiting to get inside.
The gate opened a little before nine, we drove in along with numerous other visitors. Once everyone was inside, a short presentation explaining a little about the facility, dogs and the hike was given in both English and Spanish. The dogs were happily milling around, they were very excited to see all the visitors. On this day the facility was caring for about 800 dogs. There were young to old, small to large, thin to chubby and any color of rainbow. There were a few purebred dogs but for the most part they were all mixed breeds. They promote “When you adopt a mutt you adopt a UNIQUE breed”. Every dog is given a name and a “breed” based on their characteristics.
The hike is very physical, we stopped several times along the way allowing the dogs to drink and cool off in a waterfall fed stream. All the dogs that wished to go were allowed. When the old, weak or chubby became to tired to continue, volunteers carried them. It was very heartwarming to see. A few times we stopped in the shade, those of us who needed a break were able to just rest and those who were ready to run could do that too. There were big looped paths were the dogs, volunteers and guest were allowed to run. Everyone enjoyed themselves.
Once you reached the top of the mountain there was a stunning view of Costa Rica. Visitors and dogs relaxed and enjoyed the view and the company of other adventurous dog lovers. The trek down was the final part of the journey it is very steep, make sure to pack comfortable hiking boots with good traction. Several of the guest rode cardboard down the mountain, with the dogs barking and romping behind them. It was something to see.
There is no charge for the hike and it is worth the effort, energy & time spent. At the end of the hike you can purchase water, snacks, souvenirs and make a donation.
Want to adopt? Yes you can! If you fall in love with a pup they are adoptable, the shelter staff will help you through the process. If you have to leave before the adoption can be completed they can make arrangements to have your new friend shipped to you!
If you can’t make it there you can still help, by making a donation here.
You can also help by signing your dog up for BarkBox!
You can use this link and Barkbox will donate $20.00 for every new customer signed up. What could be better? Your dog gets something cool and a donation is made to the shelter all at the same time.