The beautiful country of Costa Rica is filled with incredible experiences and rich biodiversity. If you’re planning a trip to Costa Rica, be sure to include a 2-4 day trip to Rincon de la Vieja National Park. Located in the northwestern region in a province called “Guanacaste,” the lush national park, Rincon de la Vieja […]
The beautiful country of Costa Rica is filled with incredible experiences and rich biodiversity. If you’re planning a trip to Costa Rica, be sure to include a 2-4 day trip to Rincon de la Vieja National Park.
Located in the northwestern region in a province called “Guanacaste,” the lush national park, Rincon de la Vieja (meaning “the old women’s corner” in Spanish) is only 25 km (15 miles) from the Liberia airport. There are two sectors of the park – Pailas and Santa Maria – and several hiking trails designed for the ultimate outdoor explorer in mind.
The best way to get to Rincon from the airport is to either rent a car (adobecar.com) or coordinate with your lodge to pick you up. If you’d rather not drive , Interbus is another good option but be sure to make reservations ahead of time. If you choose to stay at a lodge or hacienda that is further away from the park’s entrance (lodging options below) , we highly suggest renting a car as it will give you the flexibility to get around and is relatively inexpensive. Also, no need for a 4×4 truck as the roads are well paved.
Amongst vast wildlife, tropical fauna, and spectacular waterfalls, Rincon de la Vieja National Park is home to the largest and most active volcano in the Guanacaste region. You can’t climb the volcano (due to the obvious) but that shouldn’t stop you from taking a therapeutic mud bath and then dipping into natural volcanic hot springs at its base. Further in this post, we list the many activities you can take while in the park, but first here are
Rincon de la Vieja National Park Entrance Fee
$15 for adults
$5 for children (6-12)
Rincon de la Vieja National Park Hours
Pailas Area: Monday – Sunday, 7 am – 3 pm
Santa Maria area: Tuesday – Sunday, 8 am – 4 pm
Arrive to the park early (around 8 am) to avoid the crowds at the waterfalls!
Best time of the year to visit
We suggest booking your trip to Rincon between April-November when it is not as hot or as rainy. Keep in mind that while it is one of the driest regions in Costa Rica, there is still rain and it is generally always hot, no matter when you visit (but take note that the hottest month is March).
There are a handful of places to stay while visiting Rincon de la Vieja National Park. Below are a list of our favorite choices, ranging from closest to furthest from the park. We also included a luxury option if you feel like splurging for 1 or 2 nights.
Furthest from the park:
Closest to the park:
1. See Costa Rica’s wildlife up close with an expert
Rincon de la Vieja’s tropical forests are home to the world’s most exotic wildlife. From iguanas to parrots and spider monkeys to actual spiders, keep an eye out and an ear open as you step into one of the most biodiverse habitats on the map. Park rangers are stationed around the park and are a great resource as you explore for yourself (they speak English too!) However, we suggest you take a tour with a local Costa Rican naturalist who’s day-to-day passion is educating visitors on the flora, fauna and wildlife the Rincon National Park has to offer.
2. Hike to a waterfall (or three!)
One of the simplest, most popular ways to explore the park is on foot (with comfortable hiking shoes!) Take advantage of the many well-kept paths that lead right to one of Rincon’s main attractions – the cascading waterfalls. The Oropéndola Waterfall is located in the Las Pailas sector and is one of the most impressive sites you’ll see as it plunges more than 82 feet into a bright blue nature-made pool – perfect for an afternoon swim before continuing along the hiking trail to the other waterfalls within the park.
To get the most out of your hike, we suggest recruiting a guide to take you along your Rincon hiking journey. They know the trails like the back of their hand and have an arsenal of knowledge that will enhance your overall Costa Rican experience.
3. Take an adventurous tubing tour down Rio Negro
If you aren’t keen on a full day of walking the park’s trails, may we suggest a more adventurous alternative – arrive by horse to then go tubing down Rio Negro and take in the park’s beauty a bit…faster! A 45 minute ride on horse will allow you to casually prepare for a 3 mile ride down the twisty water route led by a professional guide. This experience is perfect for the traveler looking for something different but who also wants to lazily float down a river and stay cool in the process.
4. Treat yourself to a (Mud) Spa Day
There is something extremely therapeutic about being immersed in nature. But what if you could cover yourself in it, too? The natural spas tucked within the park offer these amazing volcanic mud ash baths that are not only a perfect Instagram moment (let’s fact it – you look silly) but leave your skin (and soul) relaxed and rejuvenated. Once the mud sets in, wash it off in one of the natural thermals pools of the area. Oh and while you’re at it, get a massage by one of the local spa staff members right after to really top it off! Book a Mud Bath Volcanic Spa Day with Keteka!
5. Zipline your way to traditional Costa Rican gastronomy
It’s one thing to tour the park by foot and tube but what about by “air”? Visit Costa Rica’s canopy and see the Rincon National park from an actual bird’s eye view. For the ultimate full day tour of Rincon de la Vieja National Park, we highly suggest our Full Day Adventure Tour. It includes zip lining, hanging bridges, natural hot springs, a hike to one of Costa Rica’s biggest waterfalls – the Salitral waterfull – and last (but not least) a delicious tasting of some of Costa Rican’s best traditional gastronomy.
Shorts, a T-shirt and/or tank top are an absolute must when traveling to Rincon National Park. The heat is upwards of 97 degree fahrenheit on a regular day and rarely shifts. We also suggest wearing your bathing suit as the only bathroom to change is at the entrance of the park and there are no changing rooms (or bathrooms) once you enter.
Prepare to do a lot of hiking but note that hiking boots can be a bit too hot when trekking long distances. Instead, pack hiking sandals that are sturdy and durable in the heat and the water. Something to block the sun (sunglasses, hat sunscreen) is also essential. Make sure to also bring a well-insulated water bottle as there are fresh springs to fill up water in the park. The park also allows you to bring in food however it is your responsibility to clean up after yourself!
Amongst the many reasons why Costa Rica brings in over 2.3 million visitors a year, Rincon de la Vieja National Park is on the top of the list. Give yourself the chance to see firsthand what it means to live the Costa Rican slogan, “Pura Vida” and let nature’s tranquility and beauty be your guide.
For more information on planning an authentic trip to Costa Rica and beyond, contact us today!