*** Note: Updated April 2018. This post was originally published in October 2015 and has been completely revamped for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
It was Easter week, some days off to explore but also we know is the busiest time to travel around Costa Rica. We decided to do one-day trips from San Ramon our hometown.
Laguna Hule sounded like a good option for us!
We’ve visited before but actually, we got lost that day and by the time that we got there was late. So this time we doubled check the route and took Brian (our US friend) with us.
So we went to the Bosque Alegre National Wildlife Refuge is the home of the Congo Volcano (Extinct Volcano) and of three lagoons of great scenic beauty Congo, Hule, and Bosque Alegre, framed in a collapsed volcanic caldera found, near to Poas Volcano.
Extinct Volcano: The definition to determine if the volcano is extinct is after 10,000 years without any kind of volcanic activity. According to the book “The volcanoes of Costa Rica” the Congo Volcano did the last eruption 11,000 years ago.
3 Volcanic Lagoons
The objective of the creation of this refuge is the protection of an old volcanic crater currently divided into three lagoons with forest cover in its surroundings, which shelters a rich biological diversity and protects the water sources of the town around.
The locals the owns a property next to the entrance explained to us that you can hike to the 3 lagoons: Laguna Hule, Laguna Congo, and Laguna Bosque Alegre.
Characteristics of the 2 lagoons that we visited 1:
- Laguna Hule: This is the biggest of the three around 54.7 hectares (135.16 acres) and 71 meters (232.93 feet) deep. The color is blue surrounded by a green vegetation. Some people fish there, you can swim, use Kayaks, there is a minimal facility next to the lagoon but before going down there are restaurants for bathrooms, change or stay there.
- Laguna Congo: Fewer people come here but is 40 minutes away walking from the Hule Lagoon.The maximum depth obtained was 21 meters (68.89 feet), its temperature 26ºC (79 F) and a variable color from the sites from green to turquoise. Locals recommend us to swim here because was fewer plants and it was summer so we really had a good time.
Is it safe to swim there?
It’s important to clarify that the place has been studied by scientific and explained that there is no risk in the chemical composition of the water, there is abundant life in vegetation and fishes that the lagoon contains.
They recommend to hike to Congo Lagoon first and also they said that this lagoon is better to swim.
Facilities around the area:
The area doesn’t have a lot of things around few restaurants but at least cover the necessary and benefits 2 families of the area:
Mirador (Viewpoint) and Restaurant Bosque Alegre
Located on the left side of the route, with a perfect location to observe the lagoon. We saw they offer:
- Camping area
- Parking Lot
Prices are a bit higher compared to what is usually found in some sodas and small restaurants. To give you an idea, a plate with rice, beans, plantains, picadillo and chicken plus a natural drink, costs ₡ 4,500 colones. ($9 USD) Our lunch plus a cup of coffee for each of us ended up costing ₡ 11,000 colones ($22 USD Total).
We found this place after we thought that we can go all the way to the lagoon. We realized that wasn’t worth it and they have a Parking lot. This place is located 700 meters from the first one.
- Parking Lot (2000 colones per day)
- Bathrooms (You can shower here)
- Snacks, coffee
- Rustic Lodging
- Camping and Picnic Area
- Bring walking shoes (if you plan to walk to the lagoon on rainy season “rubber boots” are helpful)
- Waterproof jacket or “Poncho” if it rains.
- Mosquito repellent.
- Cash is handy.
- Snacks and water
- If you want to swim: Swimming Suit, clothes to change. Also, we recommend something to float to enjoy more of the water.
Entrance Fee: $0 Yes you don’t have to pay for entrance … just make sure you don’t leave trash!!!!!
What did we do?
We had breakfast on our way there. After an hour driving, we saw La Paz Waterfall and was inevitable to stop for pictures. We drove to New Cinchona (an area that has been rebuilt after 2006 earthquake), we saw the sign Laguna Hule so we were in the right direction.
After parking our car, we started the hiking all the way to Congo Lagoon as they recommended. The hike is not bad just I can see on the raining season is very muddy and the trail gets a little confusing. So if you are not doing with a tour guided better to paid attention to color marks that are hanging in some trees. It was around 12 kilometers hike total.
We were welcome for a couple of toucans signing and then the number of birds that you can see was really nice. When we got to Congo Lagoon we met a couple that saw another lagoon and says that was pretty small. I think they refer to Bosque Alegre Lagoon.
Also was a family that was hiking in the area but that’s pretty much the people that we saw it on the trail.
Our swimming experience in Laguna Congo
Well, the weather was perfect so we decided to jump into the water. Even when someone tries to scare me saying: “I don´t know maybe is an animal there”, but I trusted the lady that owns the restaurant more than this guys! And I am glad that I did because we had an amazing time here!
Next time I will bring something to sail on the lake!
After our bath on Congo lagoon, we did our hike back full of forest energy and birds signing. I can see why the called this place Happy Forest! The howlers monkeys say bye to us with their strong noise that sounds all the forest and the lagoon!
Nice ending of our hike!
This time we didn’t eat in the area because was busy but we thought: – Oh let’s stop in Soda on the way back!. Well to keep in mind that after 5:00 pm most of them were closing, however, we found one that was about to close and they were so nice and let us order and eat.
We ended our day with our stomachs and hearts full of happiness. Feeling rich with the places that we found on the way, collecting hidden gems in our memories!
It is located in Los Angeles Sur (South), Rio Cuarto de Grecia, 11 kilometers (6.83 miles) north of the Poas Volcano located at the base of the volcano Congo.
How to get there?
There are different routes to get to this place but personally, I recommend the following:
- Starting point: Alajuela downtown; take the main route to Poas Volcano or Vara Blanca. A simple way is to take the road to La Paz Waterfall Garden located in Vara Blanca.
- By driving through this route, you pass in front of La Paz Waterfall, so you can see a little more and the view from the street, La Paz waterfall.
- A few kilometers later you will reach La Nueva Cinchona, so we recommend asking a local about the entrance that takes you to the gravel road that drives you to Los Angeles Sur (South) and then there is viewpoint Bosque Alegre from which you can see Laguna de Hule.
- This journey on gravel road takes about 25 minutes.
Note: This post is in no way sponsored and we have no affiliation with any tourist company in the area. We are simply sharing our experiences.
- Plan General de Manejo Refugio de Vida Silvestre Mixto Bosque Alegre, Canje por Bosques, http://canjeporbosques.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Plan-de-Manejo.pdf, Oscar Vega, Mauricio Arias, Fernando Salas y Bernal Salas , 2014