Rincon de la Vieja National Park, Costa Rica was created by the government of Costa Rica in 1973 to protect the thirty two rivers and streams which have their sources within the park. This park is rich in wildlife such as the howler monkey, sloths, and dozens of colorful tropical birds. The last large eruption of steam and gas occurred in 1997.
What are the five things you must not miss while visiting Rincon de la Vieja National Park?
First and most popular is Hiking. Here one can experience the beauty of the tropical dry forest encompassing 35,000 acres of protected land. The trails are well defined and many are flat, however as one ascends to the crater the hiking is more steep and more difficult. Hiking all the way to the crater is now prohibited. Ask for a park map as you enter the main gate and pay the entrance fee. This map lays out of the hiking trails. Wear hiking boots or comfortable tennis shoes, but no open sandals. Don’t hike alone and don’t hike at night.
Bird watching: Over 300 species of colorful tropical birds inhabit this park. It is best to hire an guide who has a bird scope and is well trained in locating and identifying these birds.
Photography: This is a photographer’s paradise. The park breathes geothermal energy. There are steaming multihued fumaroles and bubbling ash grey gurgling mud pits like quicksand. Most impressive are the very small volcanoes with hot steam flowing from the miniature craters. These are sprinkled everywhere so be careful you do not step into one. The spectacular beauty and varied eco systems in this park along with it’s many rivers and streams make it well worth the visitors time to spend a half day or longer.
Impressive tropical dry rainforest are found along all the many hiking trails. The most impressive of these trees is the strangler fig. This is a parasite tree which covers the host tree with it’s own trunk and proceeds to strangle it by competing for water, light, and nutrients. After a very long time, the tree eventually dies and rots away while the strangler fig survives as a hollow tubular lattice.
Hot Springs: Many hot springs are located at hotels just outside the entrance gate to the park. One of these hotel is Hacienda Guachipelin located about 1 miles from the park entrance. The hot springs located here are known to possess rich minerals good for a large number of ailments such as arthritis.
How to get There? A fews miles north of Liberia you will see a sign “Rincon de la Vieja National Park.” If you are heading North, it is a right turn. Follow the signs. If you get lost just stop and ask someone. Sometimes in Costa Rica the signage for directions is not good. Enter the Las Pilas Ranger Station, closed Mondays and no entry after 3 pm. Here you enter the park and pay a fee per person which is around $10-no credit cards. Park is closed on Mondays.
Should I hire a guide? You will enjoy more if you hire a guide. Sometimes you can hire one outside the park gate. However, tours purchased at hotels will provide a guide.
How long should I spend in the park? A minimum of 4 hours or longer. Take a small backpack with water and a snack. There is no restaurant in the park.
What should I take and what should I wear? Take a small backpack with bottle water and a snack. Camera, bird binoculars, mosquito spray, sun screen, a sunhat, hiking boots or tennis shoes. No open toe sandals. Wear long cotton pants and cotton blouse or t shirt. Ticks are common in the park.
Are there poisonous snakes in the Park? Yes, stay on hiking paths. Don’t hike alone and don’t hike at night.
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