Costa Rica – Rincón de la Vieja National Park
Our goal is the nearby National Park Rincon de la Vieja (Parque Nacional Volcan Rincon de la Vieja), which falls within the protected area of the province of Guanacaste (also part of the UNESCO World Heritage). The National Park is spread over 34,000 acres and features two volcanoes, 32 rivers and streams, and is known for its incredible diversity of flora and fauna.
We reach the 25 km distant park by an agreed pick-up. In addition to hiking, horseback riding, swimming and camping are also offered. However, the positive thing is that this national park is not so crowded with tourists. If you set out on a day trip after the park's opening hours, you will be alone for most of the trip and see more animals.
The local volcano can be set off during the dry season, which is from February to April, but it also depends on the current volcanic activity. In the following months, however, it is possible to set out on a circuit around the geothermal springs and then set off to a beautiful waterfall. When entering the park you will receive a simple map with instructions.
Rincón de la Vieja crater rises up to 1916 meters above sea level. It is the highest peak of the national park. The last explosion here occurred in September 2011 and the volcano is still considered active. On the slopes there is a large number of hot springs, pools and bubbling mud, indicating a considerable supply of geothermal energy. It is estimated that the volcano has a generation potential of 140 megawatts.
The first hiking circuit starts at the ranch station. It will take you two hours tops and on its route we encounter countless of the above-mentioned geothermal phenomena including bubbling mud and sulfur smoke coming out of the ground, we literally hear it boiling beneath us. We meet the first two huge snakes, many species of birds and monkeys. It is not until the end of the tour that we meet the first groups of guided tourists.
The way to the waterfall is then more demanding in terms of time and physics. We walk through the forest and the arid plains, the path is hilly, full of roots and stones, and therefore it is necessary to have reliable good shoes. However, the waterfall is definitely worth it. Hiding among the trees at the end of a steep descent, it is absolutely beautiful and at the same time a pleasant refreshment on a hot Costa-Rican day. Bathing there is not allowed according as told by a signboard. However at the ranchers' station, they told us that indeed we can, so we really use this opportunity with enthusiasm. The return journey then runs much better. A day in the Rincón de la Vieja National Park was one of our best days during a 3-week tour of Costa Rica. If you are to the north, be sure to also come here. Just do not forget to bring snacks, only drinking water is available at the starting station and there are no restaurants or kiosks along the way.
Text and photos: Veronika Schubertová
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