So far our travels through Central America had taken us on a pretty relaxed and slow pace, but when we arrived in Costa Rica, we found ourselves running very short on time. Now we would have to rush through this country and see what we could pretty quickly in order to get to Panama in time for our prescheduled San Blas sailboat trip from Panama to Colombia. We had one week to cover as much ground as possible. We found that many of the places we wanted to go in Costa Rica surprisingly weren’t accessible by bus. This was different from our travels throughout the rest of Central America, as we found most destinations (and even non-destinations) were very accessible. So in Costa Rica we decided to rent a car in order to not only move more quickly, but also so that we could reach Rincon, Tenorio, and to zig zag the country without having to backtrack and connect through San Jose.
Arriving in Costa Rica:
We crossed the boarder with relative ease, made our way to Liberia and scooped up our rental car. We sought out on our first of many long dirt roads and made our way to Parque Nacional Rincon de Vieja. By the time we got to our lodge, there was only a few hours of daylight left, so we went on hike for just a few miles near our lodge, which led to a very small waterfall. The hike itself was more fun and interesting than the destination we were walking to.
Day 1: Parque Nacional Rincon de Vieja
We woke up early to venture into the national park. Here we went for another relatively short hike to check out some of the geothermal features the park is known for. Every quarter mile or so, we would reach an area where to gaze upon boiling mud pits, steam vents, and or small waterfalls.
It was a nice little hike and the geothermal features were interesting but we were really in search of a bit more from Costa Rica’s natural charms. So on to the next!
We were headed out to Volcan Tenorio by way of Bagaces. When stopping in Bagaces for lunch, we got a tip to visit a nearby waterfall, Llanos de Cortes. We were very glad we have ventured to this impressive waterfall just outside of town. Now this is the Costa Rica we came to see!
Apparently word hasn’t gotten out yet about this large gushing waterfall, as we were among the very few tourists visiting it. It’s a great place to take a swim and you are able to swim right under the falls and feel the thundering water pound right down on you.
It’s also possible to go behind the falls for a different perspective. This was a great little side trip that we highly recommend if ever in the area.
We made it to our next lodge near Volcan Tenorio, where we were welcomed by humming birds buzzing around the many blooming flowers.
Day 2: Volcan Tenorio
After driving the extremely rough road from our lodge to Volcan Tenorio National Park, we set off on foot through the cloud forest. Sure, the forest was beautiful but what was really the crown jewel was the Rio Celeste and its milky blue waters. Have you ever seen river water so blue before? We hadn’t.
It almost seemed fake. If the river itself weren’t scenic enough, it all dumps down another great waterfall, Catarata de Rio Celeste.
We actually didn’t realize it at the time, but Volcan Tenorio was a highlight of our Costa Rican adventure. This is another Costa Rican destination we would absolutely recommend if visiting the country. It’s simply beautiful and an enjoyable-moderate hike as well.
Eventually it was time to depart and we drove off and enroute to the Monteverde area.
Best waterfall of the two days? Its really a toss-up between Catarata de Rio Celeste and Llanos de Cortes. Which one would you want to go to?