Ecological diversity swarms Rincon de la Vieja in Guanacaste, one of the top parks in the Costa Rican Conservation Areas and, a must-visit destination if you visit the Guanacaste Province.
Rincón de la Vieja is situated approximately 15 miles northeast of Liberia, the capital city of the Guanacaste Province in the Nicoya Peninsula.
At over 34,000 acres, Rincón de la Vieja National Park shelters two volcanoes, over 30 rivers, and streams, ideal for admiring amazing nature, volcanic activity, and abundant wildlife exposure.
In the Rincon de la Vieja National Park, there are over 300 species of birds, many mammals, including white-faced monkeys, Howler monkeys, spider monkeys, armadillos, peccaries, cougars, and coati-mundi.
Let’s, first of all, talk about geography.
As you can see on the map, the Rincon de la Vieja National Park is quite close to the Daniel Oduber International Airport. Only 61.02 km, 37.92 mi, this means that it’s a bit more of 1 hour to get to the nearby hotels from the airport.
If you are coming from the SJO Juan Santamaría International Airport in San Jose the distance is 259.19 km, 161.05 mi which means about 4 and a half hours to get to the Rincon de la Vieja National Park.
Now, it is quite a fantastic option for those on a beach leisure vacation!
If you are in any of the amazing resorts of the Guanacaste Beaches, Rincon de la Vieja is a fantastic selection for a day adventure or nature experience.
The Rincon de la Vieja in Guanacaste has three touristic sides:
The most known and popular is at the entrance of the park in Las Pailas Section (See map)
This is where you get to visit the National Park, and all its fantastic trails. On this side of the National Park you can visit:
This is the most amazing trail in Costa Rica!
Not only because it is beautiful and biodiverse, but mainly because it is a 3, 3 kilometers hike that will seem much more because of its intense contrasts.
Especially if you are coming in the sunny season.
It is a small section of the National Park that combines humid rainforest with tropical dry forest and savannah, together with a great and visible volcanic activity.
This is a place where you may spot three different sorts of monkeys, coatimundis, agouti pacas, black iguanas, white-nosed peccaries and several steaming cracks, and small volcanoes (Volcancitos). These are actual mud cones with bubbling craters, that can be three or four meters in diameter, maybe less.
There is a waterfall that in the rainy season is quite beautiful, but its name says it all: Seasonal Waterfall.
La Cangreja Waterfall
If you really like hiking this is a great trail to take!
It is 10 km long (6.2 mi) and you will arrive in a blue waters pristine waterfall. The water is warm and coming from the peak of the volcano.
However, the waterfall is not the real reason for us to recommend this pathway! It is a magnificent opportunity to see several different eco-systems almost untouched. It is right on the Continental Divide of Waters and it shows!
La Cangreja trail is not strenuous as, even if it has some climbing to do, in general, it’s quite flat, and you will see a lot of wildlife and birds, plus, again a surreal contrast from area to area in the route.
A great part of the trail is shady and fresh as it has some of the influence of the humid Caribbean, but then you come out of the forest to a yellowish rocky trail that seems like the end of the World, to get to a steep climb where you find, hidden the turquoise pond and the roaring waterfall.
Take water, and energy bars if possible. It may be hot when out of the shade.
Don’t drink the water from the many streams that you will find: It is coming from an active volcano and may be dangerous for your health due to the many different volcanic chemicals it may contain.
Our recommendation is to arrive early in the National Park and take Las Pailas, and then if you like hiking go for La Cangreja afterward.
And of course! Do it with a local guide.
Even if you are used to hiking and the maps are quite clear, this area gets foggy quite fast and you may easily get lost.
The nearest town is called Cañas Dulces. Hence the name of the sector.
This is the area where you will find amazing hot springs and adventure centers.
The area, even though is near the National Park is mainly composed of private hotels and haciendas.
It is a great area to enjoy spas and hot springs, and it has the quite popular Buena Vista Adventure Park and Borinquen Resort and Spa.
Dos Ríos Section
As we see the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano from the area of Guanacaste, we should say this is the backside of the volcano.
In this area, you may find a second “Blue River”. The same effect as in Rio Celeste, the Río Azul is as turquoise and beautiful.
As when you take the route to Cañas Dulces, the road to Dos Ríos is quite tricky and may feel quite a long and isolated route. It is. However, it is worth it if you are into going off the beaten path this may be the place for you!
Las Pailas Section
With a unique location, Hotel Hacienda Guachipelín is the ideal place to explore one of the most exciting regions, with active volcanoes. Located in the sunny province of Guanacaste, next to the Rincon de la Vieja National Park, Hotel Hacienda Guachipelín offers comfortable rooms to relax after a day of adventure tours in Costa Rica.
This award-winning eco-adventure lodge is the perfect place for active travelers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Hotel guests and day visitors can enjoy dozens of activities available at the Adventure Center, open every day.
Enjoy wildlife and bird watching in the lush gardens with native trees and exotic flowers around the rooms.
While exploring the immense estate of 1400 hectares, be sure to visit the viewpoint that has an incredible 360-degree view, with panoramic views of the Rincon de la Vieja and Santa María volcanoes, Guanacaste plains and the Pacific coast.
Cañas Dulces Section:
Buena Vista Eco Adventure Park:
The Ecolodge has 76 comfortable rooms, spectacular views, and landscapes. Sustainable and organic gastronomy with products harvested on the farm, pool bar, souvenir shops, and photography service.
You can enjoy hot springs, canopy or suspension bridges, visit the Salitral waterfall, or live the adrenaline of 420-meter water slider inside the mountain.
The activities are performed within the primary tropical forest, which throughout the years conserves the diversity of flora and fauna, always accompanied and attended by the warm and straightforward staff from the surrounding communities.
The lodge has the highest qualification in the Hotel Tourism Sustainability Certificate of the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT).
Borinquen Mountain Resort & Spa:
The Hot Springs Spa at Borinquen Mountain Resort is a prominent spot located next to the Rincon de la Vieja National park and getting a lot of its benefits.
This hotel offers modern and quite beautiful accommodations that will let you enjoy a very comfortable vacation. All rooms have private decks with great mountain views and breathtaking landscapes.
The climate mixes the Guanacaste dry and sunny weather with the fresh air of the mountains. The thermal springs, the natural steam-room, and the volcanic mud will add to the relaxing environment of this retreat in the highlands.
Take advantage of the healing properties that have mineral-rich waters and volcanic mud-pots.
Activities and tours
Rincon de la Vieja has several different activities for all sorts of tastes!
From beautiful and luxurious spas to rustic trails where you enjoy horseback. This is a place that has almost everything you want: Nature, adventures, and leisure.
The hotels mentioned above offer some exclusive tours as well, such as horseback rides, waterfall canyoning, tubing, river kayak, suspension bridges, and ziplining.