Rincon de la Vieja National Park
From Costa Rica Travel Guide: Vacation and Travel tips
Rincon de la Vieja National Park
Straddling the Guanacaste Cordillera lies Rincón de la Vieja National Park, invariably a favorite of those fortunate few people privileged enough to have visited the majority of parks in the system. Rincon de la Vieja National Park was established in the early 1970’s to protect the flora, fauna and watersheds in the area and is located about 25 kms northwest of Liberia. The park is spread out over approximately 14,000 hectares of semi-deciduous forest and very moist forest, but includes barren, rocky terrain as well. Rincon de la Vieja is home to some 257 bird species, including the Resplendent Quetzal, the Montezuma oropendula, and the emerald toucanet to name a few. Other mammals that roam in this protected mountainous region are cougars, jaguars, tiger cats, howler, spider and White-Faced Capuchin Monkeys, ocelots, tayras, kinkajous, sloths, tapir and many more exotic animals.
Rincon de la Vieja volcano rises 1,895 meters above sea level. It has an active crater which releases steam and gases, but during its last few eruptions it spewed out mainly ash. The volcano belongs to a larger volcanic formation made up of nine other volcanoes, with the most impressive being Santa Maria and Von Seebach.
A number of fumaroles (a vent in a volcanic area from which steam and hot gases such as sulfur dioxide are emitted) can be found at the sites known as Las Hornillas and Las Pailas, a 50 ha. sector on the southern slope of the volcano with numerous kinds of geothermal activity. Bubbling, boiling hot mud springs, sulfur springs, steam vents, and fumaroles are all present in this relatively small area at the base of the volcano.
Rincon is a great place to hire a guide and a horse for a fun filled day of exploration. There are waterfalls and mud baths, hot springs, and refreshingly cool jungle swimming holes. You’ll also pass through pastureland, scrub savanna, and secondary rainforest and for you birdwatchers- this area is excellent. For those in good physical condition, a hike from the Las Pailas ranger station to the volcano's summit makes for a rigorous full day outing. The walk starts out through a magnificent stand of tropical moist forest where the most striking trees are strangler figs seen in every phase of the process of enveloping the doomed host tree. As the trail continues upwards it enters premontane wet forest and the trees become smaller and covered with epiphytic vegetation. The last hour and a half (or more) of the hike is on steep, exposed rock rubble that has resulted from past eruptions.
Rincon de la Vieja National Park has camping areas available 24 hours a day. Restrooms, showers, and picnic areas are provided as well.
Well marked trails will lead visitors to the park’s attractions. Trail guides are also an option at Rincon de la Vieja.
Getting to Rincon de la Vieja National Park (Santa Maria Station)
• from San Jose, take the Interamerican highway to Liberia
• take the road from Liberia leading NE and follow the Park signs
Getting to Rincon de la Vieja National Park (Pailas Station)
• continue on the Interamerican highway approximately 5 miles past Liberia
• turn right toward Curubande and follow the Park signs