Llanos de Cortes Waterfall: Easy walk to an unexpectedly pretty waterfall

In Costa Rica, we have hiked in two kind of waterfalls: those that you have to walk and suffer crossing mud trails until you feel that you can’t walk anymore when you finally reach them (and sometimes they are cold water) and those that you only have to enjoy.

Llanos de Cortés is the second kind. It’s an easy walk that won’t require legs of steel to get there.

Where is Llanos de Cortes Waterfall located?

The waterfall is located in Guanacaste Province, in the town of Llano de Cortes.

If you are coming from San Jose: From Bagaces, it is 6 kilometers going towards Liberia. There is a sign on the left that leads to the site, about another kilometer away.

If you are coming from Liberia:  there is a sign that says “Bagaces 5km.” Soon after is the pedestrian bridge. Turn immediately after the bridge and you will see the waterfall sign.

Access to Llanos de Cortes Waterfall: Two entrances

When we got there right after we pulled aside from the highway, a guy stopped us and asked if we were visiting the waterfall.

After our positive answer, he showed us a map and explained that the entrance was around 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from there and that we could park there.

After 1.2 kilometers (less than a mile), we saw a sign that indicated that was the entrance. It looked official.

So, ignoring the guy´s recommendation, we decided to ask, and apparently this is the official entrance that belongs to the Municipality of Bagaces.

They also have a parking lot.

So are there 2 entrances?

Yes, that’s correct.

Why?

Well, we learned that day that there is a conflict between the community and the Local government.  

The community used to manage the access to the waterfall, and with the profit, they said that the school and sports club were benefited.

On the other side, the Municipality blames the community for the lack of maintenance and control while they used to have the management.

Official Entrance (Government):

  • Entrance Fee: $10
  • Parking lot: None 
  • Hours: 8:30 am to 4:00 pm
Llanos de Cortes government entrance
Llanos de Cortes parking lot

Alternative entrance (Community):

  • Entrance Fee: $8
  • Parking lot: $4   
  • Hours: 8:00 am to 4:00 pm

For security reasons, we recommend the official entrance since they have a guard. We have heard about some people who suffered damage to their car or stolen bags in the private parking lot. So it’s better to not take chances.

However, some tourists feel that they want to invest directly in the community and go with local guides. We are not against that. The situation is more complex because it is a conflict between the government and community.

If you are interested to learn more about this situation that has created 2 entrances, you can access the following an article for a local newspaper (it’s a really good article)

What to know before you go

  • Best time to go Llano de Cortés Waterfall:

Depending what you are looking for, the dry season is from December to May.

However, this waterfall keeps the water flow year round and for that reason it’s pretty busy during the whole summer.

If you want to see a bigger water flow and the curtains of water to take better pictures, September, October and November are good months with way fewer people around.

  • What to bring?

Swimming suit, Towel, sunscreen, hiking sandals, shorts, extra clothes in case you want to change. Snacks (alcoholic drinks are not allow in the area)

Our experience at Llanos de Cortes Waterfall

As we mentioned before, we decided to park at the “Official entrance.” We walked down some concrete stairs, less than 2 minutes, then we were there.

The entire place was  surrounded by trees and there is some sort of beach in front of the waterfall.

Llanos de Cortes Waterfall
Llanos de Cortes Waterfall from another perspective

Groups of families, tourists, locals were enjoying sunbathing in some sort of sand area that people put chairs and their coolers just in front of the waterfall.  

We observed lifeguards in the area. That was a surprise for me, because usually you don’t find that in any waterfall in Costa Rica.

I saw people on top of the waterfall, and it seems that the people that access the waterfall from the other parking lot get here first.

So we took a small trail to the left to get up there. We took some pictures and walked on another small trail and went back to the waterfall to finally enjoy of the water.

Small lagoon at Llanos de Cortes Waterfall
Trail at Llanos de Cortes Waterfall

From inside:

From inside, the water was clear. You can’t climb to the rocks because there is a line that is forbidden for protection. But you have a lot of space to swim around next to the little fishes that will try to do a massage on your feet.

It was cool at first, but the humidity and hot weather of Guanacaste make you enjoy the immersion to the water pretty quickly.

The altitude of the Llanos del Cortes waterfall according to the lifeguard of the area is around 24 meters high (79 feet).

They say that the pool is around 4/5 meters (13 feet) in the deepest part.

Monkeys at Llanos de Cortes Waterfall

Ideas to maximize your time there:

  • Since the place gets busy, try to go early, as soon as they open at 8:00 am, especially during the weekends.  
  • They try to keep the place safe. However, it’s a big area. Don’t leave valuable stuff in the car, and when you are swimming if you are a couple like us, just leave your stuff where you can see them.
  • You can hike to the top for pictures, but the lifeguard will whistle at you if he thinks you are getting too close to the border.
  • At the entrance is a guy that sell “pipas” – coconuts you can buy there and bring to the waterfall. We didn’t see anyone selling stuff inside the waterfall.  
  • Bring snacks and food.
  • 4 hours is enough to spend in this place, so you can schedule a half day visit.
  • During the raining season, try to check the weather conditions on their Facebook page.
  • Look over the trees. There’s a family of monkeys that are pretty common to see. Don’t sit under them because they sometimes decide to poop if you are under them!
Llanos de Cortes Waterfall Information
Llanos de Cortes Waterfall – General Information

We recommend this place for people who don’t mind about crowds and want an accessible waterfall.  

If you are driving from La Fortuna or San Jose and are going to Guanacaste, this is a great stop for few hours.

It’s a great way to break up the long drive from the coast to the Arenal volcano area.

Also, if you are staying in the Guanacaste area, it’s around one hour from Tamarindo and 20 minutes from Liberia.

We visited the waterfall on our way back from Rincon de la Vieja National Park , so it was totally worth the visit.

What really amazed us about this place is that it is located in the driest province of the country where the landscape that you see is like an African Savanna. So it’s like finding an unexpected oasis with a pretty waterfall in the middle of a dry area.

Even though we don’t like touristy places, this place is a great opportunity to enjoy a waterfall in Costa Rica, not only because the beauty also the vibe of the place is still very local and Pura Vida!

How to visit Rio Agrio Waterfall at Bajos del Toro Cloud Forest?

This place is one of the best-kept secrets. It´s a hidden gem guarantee.

Do you want that we tell you where is this place? It´s located in the beautiful area of Bajos del Toro Cloud Forest.

It´s 1.5 hours (maximum 2 hours)  from San José, it’s a powerful waterfall surrounded by surreal rocks and not far from there are the Blue poles called: Pozas Celestes.

The area where this place is located is near tourists destinations like Poas Volcano. Also, you can drive through here to go to La Fortuna where the Arenal Volcano is located.

The views of the mountains that surrounded the area are stunning. The small village is peaceful and smaller and less touristy than Monteverde you can still appreciate here the beauty of the Cloud Forest.

Getting there:

From San Jose:

To get there you will see signs on the route made by TV satellite antennas.

To clarify the area is full of waterfalls to visit there is another waterfall before the entrance of Rio Agrio called Tesoro Escondido that can confuse you. Read more about Tesoro Escondido.

About Río Agrio and Pozas Celestes Tour:

We found out about this place since became a “social destination”. Everyone on Instagram was posting this gorgeous pictures about the blue pool and this beautiful waterfall.

So the first time that we visited was in 2017. The property belongs to a family from the area of Bajos del Toro and they just opened the business in 2016.

However, they have grown fast because of the visitors especially Costa Ricans that visit the place during the weekends.

So this place is perfect if you are seeking to travel like a local and experiment what locals do.

Facilities:

There is a nice parking lot in front of the restaurant. The entrance fee needs to be paid at the restaurant.

You can do the tour in a combo that means that you pay the entrance to the waterfall and the blue-hole river (Pozas Celeste). They are located in two different properties.

Or just the entrance to the waterfall.

We have visited the place around 4 times with different tourist even a group from Atlanta and even though the trails are muddy, here are their thoughts about the experience:

Dear Rodrigo + Ligia,

Thank you for an amazing excursion day! We were challenged throughout the day – which was a good thing! You both are fun, organized and warmly greeted us! The zip staff were great and even though conditions on the hike were less than ideal- we plowed trough and you encouraged us! Thank you for serving us! – Jill, Mikala + Stuart UMC Team

Usually, we start visiting the waterfall and then when we are back the owners of the property take you by car to the other property where the blue rock pools are.

Trails: There is one trail that takes you all the way to the waterfall.  2 kilometres (1.5 miles) roundtrip the trail is through a cattle field first then in the forest and crossing 2 bridges until you get to amazing rocks in front of the strong waterfall. In the rainy season, it can be really muddy.

Difficulty: Moderate because some parts of the trails are not accessible. Not recommended for pregnant women, people with walking problems, elderly or children under 3 years of age.

Catarata Rio Agrio: “Rio Agrio” means sour river, the reason of the name is because when you get there it gives you a small itchy feeling in your eyes and if you try the water it tastes sour.

The river has an acid pH due to its volcanic origin and has elements such as sulfur, iron, silicon, among others.   DON´T DRINK THE WATER!

The high of the waterfall is about 50 meters tall. (165 ft)

“Posas Celestes” Light-Blue Rock Pools: They are beautiful when we got here we were really impressed to have this beautiful place in our country.

Ligia couldn’t hold her excitement for water and she just jumps to the freezing water.

When you think in Costa Rica you don´t think in cool water with temperatures that are similar to a lake in Michigan in spring. Well that´s it you will get about that temperature in the water.

Costs:

Entrance fee: 5000 colones about $10

Camping site: They have an outdoor camping area that charge about $5 per person per night.

Parking lot: Free

Food: Usually are casados or fish with fries. A plate is average around $5- $8 per person

What to wear?

  • Comfortable clothes
  • Hiking shoes
  • Rain Jacket
  • Repellent
  • Water and snacks
  • Bathing suit

Insider tip:

  • You don’t need reservations to go there.
  • Make sure to check the weather the day before you visit the area since it is a rainy area this can change the color of the water.
  • Don’t be scared if you don’t see a lot of people on the trails. It’s not that touristy so if you go during a weekday you might have the whole place by yourself. However, the owners are always available for your assistance.
  • Take extra clothes to change, you won´t finish clean for sure!
  • Some snacks wouldn’t be a bad idea.

If you want to check more about the place check their Facebook page: Catarata Rio Agrio

Also, we can help to create a route the includes this place either you are starting or finishing your trip. Hope the information is been useful if you want to ask more about Rio Agrio Waterfall click our travel concierge service to help you more.

We highly recommend this off-the-beaten-path adventure for many reasons but mainly because you will enjoy from a different cloud forest with stunning mountains view and this beautiful blue water! 

Pura Vida!

Tips for visiting Paraíso de Manantiales Waterfalls

There is an area called Bajos del Toro, where we always find new Costa Rican waterfalls.

It seems like nature creates a new waterfall every time we go, and for this reason, this place never ceases to amaze us.

This area is located in the middle of two National Parks, Poas Volcano and Juan Castro Blanco, and it is an important resource of water for the country.

So when we really want to escape from our routine but want to travel close to home, we go there.

Since few years ago, the community of Bajos del Toro—which is considered a hidden gem—has been experiencing benefits from tourism.

According to a study from TEC university, the population in 2011 was around 273 inhabitants, and the employment rate was low, so people found that tourism was a good way to generate income.

We noticed that a lot of properties in the area seem to have a waterfall. Last time we went, we literally counted 7 places where there were signs to visit waterfalls.

Some places have more than one waterfall. So we drove all the way to the end of the main street of the little town to explore.

And there at the end before leaving the town, we found this place called Paraiso de Manantiales (Springs Paradise).

Read more about other waterfalls to visit:

How to get there:

It’s hard work to get to this area, but it’s definitely worth it.

To get there from San Jose:

After you follow a side street and few signs, you get to a house.

There, the owner welcomed us and gave an explanation that was hard to understand, but we just followed the street until we saw the restaurant.

The property has a restaurant and a swimming pool where you can park your car. We paid the entrance fee in the owner’s house.

He explained to us that we will find the trail and then we will just have to follow the trail.

So we entered the trail, and not many meters in, we found a dense and green forest with a steep mountain slope.

The owner told us that you can see 8 waterfalls, and that was true. As we went down the slope, we started to find them.

The trail took us to the bottom, where you find yourself in this wide-open river. If you look back, three waterfalls welcome you down there.

Walking through the rocks (they are orange rocks because of the minerals in the water), you will get to this other 90-meter waterfall and a little natural pool that looks like an oasis.

It is so peaceful and calm. Rodrigo took a lot of pictures while I was meditating and enjoying the perfect creation.

Things to know:

Trails: Very basic and the security is minimum because the railing consists of plastic tubes.

Caracol Stairs:  This part can be scary if you are scared of heights because you go down the equivalent of 3 floors right away. But it was definitely one of the highlights of the day for us!

Swimming Pool: If the weather in the area allows, there is a swimming pool that can be a good way to end the tour. We didn’t know about it. Next time we will bring bathing suits!

The distance of trails (routes): 4 kilometres (roundtrip)

Difficulty: Medium. Going down is easy, but it can be challenging for someone who doesn’t have the conditions to go back up.

Entrance cost: $6

Parking? Yes, it’s included with the entrance fee.

What to bring?

  • Snacks
  • Poncho or rain jacket
  • Double clothes
  • Hiking/trail shoes
  • Repellent and sunscreen
  • Bathing suit (optional)

Recommendations

  • Check with the owner about the weather conditions, especially in the rainy season, because if it has been raining a lot it’s not recommended to do the hike.
  • The restaurant is open mostly on the weekends, so plan your visit early in the morning so when you finish you can visit another Soda in the area.

For more help check: Start planning your travel

Other pictures:

Entrance at Paraiso Manantiales

Trails and bridge at Paraiso Manantiales

Hiking on a sunny day at Bajos del Toro River.

First waterfall at Paraiso Manantiales

Rio Celeste: A waterfall and its light blue waters

This. Waterfall. is. light blue

We have visited the Rio Celeste waterfall several times. One time we went there with no luck to see the stunning color.

But this time was one of the nicest because of the time of the year (February). The color that you can see is like the pictures. LIGHT BLUE

General Information :

First of all, here’s some general information about the place that we have researched and compiled for a better understanding of this tourist attraction:

  • Area: 18,402 ha (Around 45,472 acres. Included Protection Area Tenorio)
  • Altitude: 700 – 1516 ( Around 2296 – 4973 Feet Above Sea Level)
  • Type of ecosystem:  wet forest, rainforest
  • Dry season: January until April
  • Conservation Category: National Park
  • Wildlife:  Pacas, Crested Guans (Rio Celeste is an excellent spot for birdwatching)

A little of the history

Rio Celeste waterfall is part of Tenorio Volcano conservation area. The Tenorio Volcano has been dormant for thousands of years.
So, in the tradition of the indigenous Corobicí (a group that has disappeared) and Malekus peoples, several of the rivers and lakes that flow from Tenorio are considered sacred sites.
The Malekus live on the plains of Guatuso. They consider this “big house,” stretching to the south of Lake Nicaragua, to be the home of gods, with each god controlling a strip of land between rivers. The sacred sites are now protected areas. 1

Personally, when I am in the forest, I get immersed in my thoughts and I just picture our ancestors walking in the forest, exploring new territories and finding a waterfall like Rio Celeste!!! WAOOO! What a moment!!!

Our hiking experience

Brian, and Morgan from Boston plus Rodrigo and I spent the night in La Fortuna. In the morning, we left around 6:00 am and got the Rio Celeste entrance around 8:00 am.

When we got there we had a quick chat with the guard of the restaurant outside of the entrance of the National Park. He told us about the series of earthquakes that happened in January and the repercussion on the color of the water and tourism on the area.

Fortunately, at the entrance, they told us that the river was blue. So we were ready and excited to see the waterfall. We started hiking, and maybe one kilometer later, Rodrigo saw a small snake. A lot of curious tourists came by and we definitely noticed a lot of people walking on the trail.

We had a very rough rainy season last year, and you can see a lot of trees that have fallen and the forest regenerating itself. However, the trail called “Los misterios de Tenorio” was in perfect shape.

Getting to the Waterfall

First, we went to the trail that has a lot of stairs to see the waterfall. The weather was really nice—not too sunny not too cloudy.

We took as many pictures as we could. And I reaized that nothing makes me happier than seeing the faces of admiration when the tourists see the waterfall.

ViewPoint

Later, we continued walking up to the “Mirador” after having some snacks. There were a lot of people going up and the trails get muddy even though it was the dry season. But it wasn’t too bad. Well… Rodrigo did fall and cover his butt with mud. If you’re visiting Rio Celeste in the rainy season, it will be impossible stay clean by the end of the day. But hey, it won’t be fun if you don’t get muddy.

There were no clouds, so we were able to see the Tenorio Volcano from the viewpoint. After this part, you start going down on the trail.

“Laguna Azul”

This area is nice because the river has this color and you see the contrast of the green vegetation surrounding it. It is like a fairytale landscape.

“Borbollones”

Following the trail, you will get to this section, where you see the river bubbles due to the sulfur and the temperature of the water is warm. In this part, there is a strong smell like a rotten egg.

“Teñideros”

Here is where the magic happens. Here is where Rio Buena Vista (Good View River) and Rio Quebrada Agria (Sour River) combine together and the color of the water changes drastically. The water goes down for 14 kilometers more.

According to an article from the University of Costa Rica, the scientific team collected a water sample from here and took it to a lab. They noticed that the color of the water was only in the river—in the tubes, the water became transparent again.

As a result of this investigation, they discovered that the light blue color we see in the waters of the river is not a chemical phenomenon, but an optical one. That is to say that the celestial blue color is not produced by a chemical that colors the water, but rather it is a perception of the human eye because of the way the water disperses the sunlight.

At the end of the trail, after we’d taken some videos, Morgan and I had to run because we really needed to use the restroom. Plus, we were starving, so we did that trail in like 30 minutes. haha. The good thing is that while we waited for the guys, I had the chance to interview Adriana Chavarria, one of the rangers at the national park.

In the next section, I’ve written common questions about visiting Rio Celeste. Some were answered by Adriana when we talked that day, other by experience and other as part of the research. Hope you find these useful!

Video:

Common questions about your visit to Rio Celeste

1. Trails: I’ve heard this hike is ‘intense’—does that mean lots of hills and elevation changes? Or just ‘careful’ stepping? Is it physically difficult? 

Everything depends on what your health conditions are. A few years ago, when I wasn’t hiking as much, I found this hike pretty exhausting. Especially in the rainy season because the mud and the rocks are pretty slippery. There is an elevation change but it is a slow progression up. I wouldn’t say it’s “intense,” but it will be challenging for some.

You don’t need to be an athletic person to see the waterfall. Some people see it from the top of the stairs and skip the rest of the trail. You can do the trail at your own pace and take plenty of rest breaks.

The trail round trip is 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) and takes between 3 – 4 hours. The trail is not handicap friendly.

2. Q: How long is the hike to the waterfall?

We did this backward because we went first to the waterfall and then to the farthest point. So Adriana recommended that next time, we go first to Teñideros and leave the waterfall on the way back as the reward after the long hike.

If you are just interested to go to the waterfall, it will take 1.5 kilometers to get there ( Almost a mile + 250 steps). Depending on the speed, it takes around an hour to get just to the waterfall.

3. Q: Clothes: Footwear? Is it hot?

The weather is humid, and it’s in the rainforest, so it rains a lot. Dry-fit clothes will be best.  During the dry season, you can use hiking shoes that you don’t mind getting muddy. They also rent out rubber boots at the entrance, although some people find them very slippery.

I saw some people with Keen sandals or Chacos. I guess they didn’t mind the mud, the rocks, and the tree branches. Just use what makes you walk more freely. Please DO NOT use flip-flops or white shoes. We saw many people walking barefoot after they broke their flip-flops.

4. Q: Swimming: I have seen videos of people swimming in the waterfall. Can you swim there?

Well, unfortunately not anymore. Swimming inside the National Park is forbidden.

The reason was some tourist drowned because the current was so strong, so the park decided to avoid more accidents.

However, Adriana explained to us about a spot where people go to swim before the main entrance of the park—around 3 kilometers away. Under the bridge is the Catira River, which has the same color and you can swim there carefully, especially in the rainy season.

5. Q: Parking lot: Is there any place for parking? And is it safe?

Yes. There are two restaurants in the main entrance. We parked in the one across the street from the entrance and paid 2000 colones ($4 for the day).

6. Q: Food and Lodging: Can I do it round trip?

Yes, you can, especially if you are staying in La Fortuna.

Also, the area offers places to stay and explore the area more. At the same time, the community in the surrounding areas benefits from the tourist activity.

If you decide to stay, it will give you the chance to get to the park earlier and enjoy more of the wildlife.

In the high season, they have a limit of 400 people on the trail, so sometimes you might have to wait.

7. Q: Color of the river: Does the weather affect the color of the river?

Yes, it affects it and changes it to a brownish color. For that reason, we recommend checking the official Facebook page of the National Park to double-check if the park will be open or  the color of the water and if is worth it to go.

Facebook Page: Parque Nacional Volcán Tenorio

Schedule: 8:00 am until 2:00 pm for admission. People can stay in the park until 5:00 pm.

Prices:

  • $15 foreign adults

To conclude, I would like to add the last question that I asked Adriana that day at the ranger station.

Because even with the magic of this place, it is important to not ignore the CHALLENGES that places like Rio Celeste face every day that we don’t even notice. Superheroes like volunteers, rangers (only 5 for such a big area) and the local community that depends on tourism fight every day against these issues.

8. Q: Can you mention the main issues that the National Park has to deal with?

  • Hunting
  • Forest Fires
  • Lack of resources for the maintenance of the trail. Volunteers are planning for this year to add more concrete to the trail.
  • In Adriana’s personal opinion, the bigger problem for the park is the Illegal deforestation because, as she says: “A tree that took years to grow, and is the house of many animals is not easy to repair that damage”

In conclusion, this hike is 100% recommended. Rio Celeste is a place where you will recharge your energy and feel a peace in your soul. 

I want also leave space to reflect more than the pictures the impact that you do when you visit a place like Rio Celeste. You are supporting nature, and boosting the local economy with your footprint and watching the light-blue water.

Thanks for reading !!! 

References:

  1. Volcán Tenorio, Parques Nacionales – Fronteras Naturales, ISBN 978-9930-9463-4-3, Luciano Capelli y Yazmín Ross, Printed, October, 2014
  2. Científicos de la UCR revelan misterio de río, Universidad de Costa Rica, https://www.ucr.ac.cr/noticias/2013/09/10/cientificos-de-la-ucr-revelan-misterio-de-rio.html, Manrique Vindas Segura Periodista Oficina de Divulgación e Información [email protected] and Lidiette Guerrero Portilla Periodista Oficina de Divulgación e Información [email protected], September, 10th, 2013
  3. Chavarría González, A. (2018). Información oral, Área De Conservación Arenal Huetar Norte (ACAHN), Parque Nacional Volcán Tenorio, Universidad de Costa Rica. Entrevistador: Ligia Morera, Explore Tikizia Blog.

Tesoro Escondido – Costa Rica Waterfall

Can you imagine owning a huge, natural property of various terrains and landscapes, surrounded by mountains, with an otherworldly BLUE waterfall, all in your backyard? Well, this isn’t so far-fetched here in Costa Rica.

Meet the Cubero family, who own and protect a property rich in water resources, including the beautiful Tesoro Escondido (Translated: “Hidden Treasure”) waterfall located in the area of Bajos del Toro, Sarchí. It is similar to Rio Celeste Waterfall National Park, but even closer to San José.

The waterfall itself has become a trend for “Ticos” to visit within the last few years. It began when the Cubero family who owns the waterfall was motivated to create a tourist destination for visitors to the area, after many, many years of it remaining private and unknown to the world.

They had some visitors who created a video that went viral in Costa Rica, and boom! Their whole family became part of an unexpectedly successful adventure in tourism with this magical land, kept secret until now.

Since I began seeing this video of the “new” blue waterfall to visit on social media, and had some friends who visited it tell me about it, I was curious to visit this Hidden Treasure.

So together, with a friend from Boston, it was the perfect excuse to visit jungle waterfalls in Costa Rica.

About Bajos del Toro

From the top of the hill, the town of Bajos del Toro is like a small, colorful village—very picturesque! If you are looking for a little piece of Costa Rican life where everyone knows everyone, then look no further!

This village of 275 people surrounded by rivers (full name: Bajos del Toro Amarillo) is a rural idyll. The town has a church, some small restaurants (sodas), a school and lots of nature and water.

There are at least 3 other fantastic waterfalls that you can visit in the area.

A family story behind the blue waterfall

When we visited Tesoro Escondido Waterfall, the family restaurant was open, and I was able to speak with a woman named Rosemary. One of the nicest things about Costa Rica is the people and their friendliness, so I had a long, great chat with Rosemary, who is one of the 13 family members involved in the business.

“We have siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews that are working to keep the project going—at the beginning, some of them without payment” Rosemary told me.

The property belongs to the family, who inherited it from their father. They never imagined making a living from tourism because the main purpose of the place all along had been for cattle and other agriculture production. Since it is located next to the Poas Volcano, the waterfall has experienced different changes in the color of the water, making the vivid blue the most attractive one, though the sulfur and other minerals (and depending on the season and circumstances), all cause changes in its color fairly often.

Scientific studies of Tesoro Escondido waterfall tell us the minerals and sediments from the volcano produce the variations of the color. Scientists also closely monitor the different levels of the water to guarantee whether it is safe to visit or not, especially during raining season.

Rosemary and some of her other family we met were so incredibly friendly. And this is definitely one of the best things about Tesoro Escondido: you feel like more than just a tourist, but rather a family friend who has the blessing to visit and also witness the value of a family working together, which is one of the kinds of projects that we most highly recommend.

Getting to Tesoro Escondido Waterfall:

Distance from San Jose: 1 hour 40 minutes, 65 kilometers (40.8 miles). The route is incredibly scenic and at times daunting, as you weave along a road that clings precariously to the face of the often cloud-shrouded mountains.

By car: Renting or having a 4WD car is not necessary for visiting this area. Bajos del Toro is accessible for small cars or any other type.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that the route turns narrow in some parts. Driving carefully is important.

Also, driving from San Jose to Bajos del Toro can be a little complicated if there is not any guidance. So, we always recommend the navigation app Waze. Downloading and using it will likely save you some time.

By entering the name: “Tesoro Escondido Catarata” in the search bar of the app, it will give you an approximate time and distance from where you are.

And, of course, another great option is Google Maps, which has most of the same features as Waze, though not all.

By private transportation:  This is another option that people consider because many people don’t like to drive in Costa Rican routes. Many people prefer to hire someone who can drive them. This is a great idea too, especially if you have kids or a big family.

By bus: Apparently, to get there by bus you will have to take it from Sarchí and stay in the area.

Or it’s possible to take a taxi from Sarchí to Bajos del Toro for around 12,000 ($25) total.

One of the people in charge suggested that anyone can contact him and he might be able to help with transportation. (However, keep in mind that he only speaks Spanish). Contact Info: (506) 8570-5434 Oscar Cubero (He is one of the brothers of the family)

General Information:

Schedule: Monday through Sunday 8:00 am through 5:00 pm

Costs (updated January 2018):

  • Entrance Fee:  5000 (About $10)
  • Parking lot: Yes 1500 (About $3)
  • Camping Area: Yes 5000 per camping tent.

*Bring all the cash you need, as we didn’t see any ATMs or banks.

Difficulty: Easy (though getting to the main waterfall might not be recommended for handicapped or elderly)

Facilities: Rustic showers, restrooms, a restaurant in the entrance (open only during weekends).

Important things to take into consideration:

  • During raining season (May – Nov)
    • They recommend wearing rubber boots. They can rent them to those who want them. I personally find them slippery, so you could also use tennis shoes that you dont mind getting dirty.
    • They dont recommend swimsuits or white clothes.
    • You need to be willing to get dirty if you go during the raining season. MUD is a thing!
    • If you see it starting to get cloudy or beginning to rain, you should leave from the waterfall area.
  • You can swim in the waterfall! It’s cold, but there were patches where the sunlight was more direct for longer periods that were warmer.
  • There are some pools closer to the entrance that you can also swim in.
  • After walking through the open field, when you follow the path to the left, there are two smaller waterfalls.
  • The family restaurant near the parking lot is only open on weekends. You can expect to pay around $6 for a lunch.
  • Another plus to this place is that they allow pets!!!

Tesoro Escondido is an amazing place where you will fall in love with the mountain views, the waterfalls, and the Cubero family! So if you come to Costa Rica, take the time to visit this Hidden Treasure! We highly recommend it!!!

Tips for visit Danta Waterfall at San Ramon, Costa Rica

Forgive us for being so late, we could not publish this post and it was hanging around for the last 8 months.

However, we didn’t want to leave it there filed because this was one of the last adventures that we did last year (2016),  STILL  useful and updated tips to visit the waterfall, enjoy it!

It´s been difficult to write the blog after the holiday season. As we’ve been catching up with things and thinking back over last year, we remembered how we finished the year with a great adventure with new explorers from Jacksonville, Florida. They are Ashley and Andrew, a young couple with an adorable baby. We hope they can join us soon for more adventures!

We had visited Catarata Danta in the past. As I mentioned before, it is located in one of my favorite places in San Ramon,: Bajo La Paz. So we decided to take Ashley and Andrew because it’s not too far from San Ramon. However, it took longer than what we expected! So here is the information along with a better attempt to calculate time so we don’t tell people that we are going to be back at noon. 😉

General Information

  • Name: “La Danta Waterfall”
  • Located:  Bajo La Paz, San Ramon
  • Duration: Approximately 8 hours. We spent about 5 hours hiking and 3 hours at breakfast and getting coffee at Cafeteria Flory after the hike.
  • Walking Distance: 7 kilometers round trip (from where you left the car until the waterfall will be around 4.4 miles).
  • Owner of the property: Ignacio Arias – 2445-3595
  • Difficulty: Moderate

The experience

07:40 am We met at the park and headed off to Bajo La Paz.
After a great (and always big) Costa Rican breakfast in my favorite Soda Cafeteria Flory , we started to drive. After 15 minutes in the rocky path, it started to get muddy. The adventure had begun for Ashley and Andrew.

9:10 am We started to walk to the main entrance of the property that is located in the middle of the cloud forest. The weather wasn’t too bad, but it had been raining the night before so the route was a little slippery. Ashley fell once and I think almost twice.

Interesting notes about the property The property where the waterfall is located is owned by Ignacio Arias (“Nacho”is his nickname). He was a hunter who decided—after several conversations with professors from the university—to stop hunting and preserve the forest and the species that live there.
Also, it’s located in the continental divide—the division between the Caribbean and the Pacific side. For those like me who didn’t fully understand the concept at first, here is a definition: “A continental divide is a drainage divide on a continent such that the drainage basin on one side of the divide feeds into one ocean or sea, and the basin on the other side either feeds into a different ocean or sea, or else is endorheic, not connected to the open sea. (Wikipedia, Consulted 01/05/2016). I founded this fact really interesting, so we took some pictures where the division was marked.


Around noon…. We stopped for a break just before we started the trail inside the forest. There is a rustic house with bathroom, which is a perfect to stop for water and snacks or “energy bites.”

The trail

Around 1 km long in the middle of the cloud forest, the trail has a certain level of difficulty because the infrastructure does not have railing and some parts are really steep. It took around 45 minutes to go down and about the same time to go up. I love the fact that you have to cross small creeks running through the woods. They start to become more profuse until you reach the waterfall. On a side note, the springs around the trail show the incredible water resources that we have in our country. I feel grateful for the opportunity to drink water straight from nature!

“Catarata La Danta” is the name of this waterfall, which is located on private property. According to legend, the waterfall got its name because a hunter in the area was trying to chase a “Danta” (Tapir in English). He followed it to the river, and after the animal didn’t find a route of escape, it jumped into the waterfall and disappeared. The hunter tried to find and even went down the river, but he had no clue what happened to the tapir.
The waterfall itself is around 50 meters, with very clear and cold water. The pool is around 2 meters (6.5 feet) deep, so people can swim. In this trip, our friend Jafeth was the only one brave enough to do it. We stayed for 20 minutes, taking pictures, observing the beauty of the place, and celebrating that our Floridian couple made it and officially became explorers.
3:30 pm: We enjoyed a delicious late lunch/coffee and tasted the flavor of good company in a great adventure! It was a good trip to end the year of adventures.

Video

OUTFIT Recommended

Tennis shoes (no Toms, right Ashley?) + comfortable clothes that can dry easily + rain jacket or poncho + water + snacks + repellent *wood stick
I love the fact that at all the places we visited on this trip, we were contributing to local economies. The owners from the property and restaurant will directly benefit from our visit! We really encourage people to step out of their comfort zone—off of the concrete, into a lot of mud and bugs, but into places that help locals. We want people to enjoy nature and have fun hiking!

Tips for visiting Nauyaca Waterfalls



Stunning is the best word I can find to describe Nauyaca waterfalls. This was our first time visiting this area with a great group of friends. Ligia and I wanted to visit this place since a while ago, however, our full-time jobs and daily life made it a little bit difficult. But it was worth the wait. We stayed the night before around Uvita, which is not that far from Dominical, and our plan worked perfectly as we thought. Well, maybe not everything.

We drove and hiked to the water, and during the time that we all were enjoying the waterfall, everything was ok. However, when I got out of the water, I noticed that my wedding ring was not on my finger anymore. I was like, “Oh my God. What do I do now?!”

So, immediately, I told Ligia and our friends and we started to look around in the water. With all the rocks and the dark water color, it was not easy to see, but some guys lent us their goggles. After a few minutes of looking, I thought, “Well that’s it!” But some minutes later, our friend Dargan became the hero of the day because she found it.

I just can say that I was really HAPPY! ☺

Furthermore, the charm of this place cannot be explained with words until you get there and experiment it yourself. Just make sure you hang on to your jewelry!

How to get to Nauyaca Waterfalls

There are two different routes that can take you to Nauyaca Waterfalls. The easiest way to get there is driving route #34, which is called “Costanera Sur.” If you are driving from Quepos to Dominical, turn left just before the police checkpoint at Rio Baru Bridge. Follow the signs that take you onto the road to San Isidro. It is a winding 7km (4.5mi) up to the ticket office, which is located at the main road.

The other route will be from San Isidro del Genera. This route is mostly use by people who are visiting the highest mountain in Costa Rica, which is called Cerro Chirripo. This place belongs to a list of different National Parks and protected areas that we have our country.(We will definitely talk about this in another post ☺)

From San Isidro del General to Nauyaca Waterfalls is 30km (19mi). Check the follow Map!

General information

Nauyaca Waterfalls is on private land that belongs to Don Lulo, Dona Ruth and their family. Originally, they grew corn and rice in this area, however, since their family bought more acres of this mountains, the idea of creating a tourism center became real.

Nowadays, this family focuses on preserving the area and the forest by promoting ecofriendly tours.
The falls are 6 kilometers east of the road, and you can reach them on horseback, by truck or by hiking. It depends how much money you want to spend. If you are fit and enjoy hiking, don’t hesitate to do that. The parking area is 2 kilometers (1.25miles) from the ticket office, but make sure to drive a 4WD car because this is a steep hill.

About the hike

The hike up to the waterfalls is around 4km (2.5 miles) each way from the parking area. This is not an extreme hike, but it is pretty long. It’s mostly flat with some hills and it gets muddy during the rainy season. Be sure to take water, fruit and some snacks with you. Throughout the trail, there are many trees that provide some shade, and the elevation is around 300 meters (990ft) above sea level , so it is fresh even when the weather is hot and humid. Also, the roots of those trees are good hiding places for some small wildlife like frogs, and high up in the branches, you might see some toucans, as well.

When you get close to the waterfall, you will see signs for the waterfall 1 & 2. The waterfall #1 (the upper one) is great for photography, and #2 is the one where you can swim and enjoy the water after a long hike.
All this sounds like a wild place where you won’t find any facilities, but don’t worry, because there are some bathrooms and changing rooms. Don’t forget your towel and swimsuit. ☺

nauyaca hike
blue jean frog

Entrance fee and Schedule

The entrance fee is $8 per person. Getting to the waterfall by truck is $28 and horseback riding is $70 per person.
If you want to go by truck, you’ll have to make a reservation because the limit is 4 people each way. The schedule for this service is:

From Monday to Saturday.Phone number: +506 2787 05 41

Going

Return

7:00am

9:30am
9:00am

11:30am

10:00am

12:30am

2:00pm

4:30am

nauyaca reception
nauyaca main reception
nauyaca team

Tips for visiting Nauyaca Waterfalls

  • Sunblock and mosquito repellent are really helpful.
  • We suggest hiking shoes or any kind of closed-toe sandal. During the rainy season, it is a little muddy and there are some slippery rocks at the waterfalls.
  • Snacks, fruit and water are really necessary, especially if you are doing the full hike.
  • If you are bringing a camera, make sure to bring some waterproof protection because it might rain and even the waterfall can affect your electronics.

Photos

nauyaca lower waterfall

nauyaca lower waterfalls

nauyaca waterfall upper one

nauyaca waterfalls upper one

 


Breaking the routine: Del Toro Waterfall, Bajos del Toro

We love exploring Costa Rica during weekends (that’s why this blog exists), so we thought it would be fun to invite people to join us. We met up with some friends on a Saturday at 5:00 a.m and headed to the Bajos del Toro area.

Bajos del Toro is about 1 hour and 40 minutes from San José, so it is a perfect distance to break the routine during a weekend without getting too exhausted. You could go there for the day and still having energy to go to a concert that evening. Bajos del Toro is close to the Poas Volcano, so it is a great area to visit on the same day as Poas. Or if you are going to the Sarapiqui area, you can pass through here. Read More about Breaking the routine: Del Toro Waterfall, Bajos del Toro