Are you itching to travel and get away from it all? Do you want to be in a place so beautiful you couldn’t even believe it? Then, you’re in the right post!
Costa Rica, especially the areas close to the mountains like La Fortuna, is the perfect spot to immerse yourself in nature and disconnect for even a short while.
Things you would learn:
- The exact coordinates of where you want to go (click on the Google Maps link)
- Entrance and parking fees
- Getting yourself ready for the hike
- Expectations while inside the park
- Access to facilities
- Dining and resting places
- Photos and videos (so you can decide for yourself)
Costa Rica Adventure Still Unfolding:
Towards the end of our stay in the rainforest near Arenal Volcano we sought to venture out to destinations further from where we were staying. Logging upwards of 8,000 to 10,000 steps daily,we seemed to had more energy than before.
Although there are set trails in these properties, most of them takes work if you are not used to it. (and we’re not) Dirt terrains paired with occasional rain showers would require more from you to finish. We would often go home after every hike drench to the bones, counting ourselves lucky we did not get sick.
But beyond the discomfort we found something that gave us energy, genuine happiness. The kind of excitement we once felt when we were kids. When summers and long weekends seemed to last forever. That time in our lives where our only job was to have fun. Running headfirst towards another, climbing trees, and skinning our knees. Giving in to the fun, letting go of the worries and sometimes not knowing what comes next. This is what travelling feels like for us. A kid’s adventure unfolding with every turn of a page.
Google Maps Link: Station El Pilon, Tenorio Volcano National Park
Cost: Entrance $13.56 (Credit Cards Accepted) Parking $4.00 (Cash Only)
Travel Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes from La Fortuna
Time Spent: 4 hours
Background: Rio Celeste is in Tenorio Volcano National Park which forms part of a conservation area. The meeting of two colorless rivers (Rio Buenavista and Quebrada Agria), results to the formation of large particles called aluminosillicates. A fraction of these particles sinks at the bottom as white sediments, while the majority floats along the river that reflects sunlight giving it a light blue appearance.
What to Expect:
The hike is easy to moderate, but come with good shoes, raincoats, and snacks.
Upon arrival, attendants will flag you down to the parking lots that are situated just across the park entrance. Pay the parking fee to the attendant before heading out to the entrance.
There will be tour guides offering their services for $60. You could always take their offer to support local tourism, but we did not because we had already seen sloths and other wildlife in La Fortuna.
The only restroom in the park is at the ticketing booth. Paths are clearly marked all thru the park. It starts out flat, but it becomes steep as you go closer to the waterfall. Expect to get your shoes wet because there are points where you must cross a small stream.
It will be a hike down to the waterfall viewpoint with tons of steps and handrails on both sides, but it is worth the trouble! The waterfall seemed like a scene from another dimension with its bright blue waters. There is a small area for resting and taking pictures, but swimming is not allowed.
Continue with the hike and climb back up. Follow the signs to the Teñidero. This path will take you to the other spots along the way. The hike from this point will be extra challenging with mostly dirt, rocks, and steep slopes. It could get wet and muddy if it rains on your visit.
The next spot you will see is the Laguna Azul. Swimming is not allowed in this area as well. As you get back to the trail, right at the corner is the Borbollones or spring. You will cross two bridges before the trail ends.
The last hanging bridge will have the blue waters of Rio Celeste underneath. Cross the bridge and on the right side there is a portion of the riverbank where you can see the bridge in full. Great spot to take pictures! The end of this trail is the Teñidero, where the two rivers meet. It is a spectacle of nature how this blue river came from two colorless river.
During our hike back, it rained quite hard and so we struggled a little bit, but this did not stop us from having fun in the rain. You should too!
We stopped by for a quick lunch at Soda El Pilon right next to the entrance. They offer “casados”, which are typical Costa Rican dishes consisting of rice, beans, vegetables, cheese, plantain, and a choice of protein (pork, beef, chicken, fish, or egg), and fast-food dishes such as burgers, pizzas and fries.
Free Swimming in Rio Celeste
Travel Time: 3 mins from Tenorio Volcano National Park
Time Spent: 1 hour
Google Maps Link: Rio Celeste Free Swimming Pool
After our meal we headed out home but got curious when we saw cars parked beside a bridge along the way. They were having a picnic in their cars and were headed down under the bridge. We were surprised to see that the same blue river winds under the bridge. This offers great access to visitors for a quick dip. The river was cold but downright refreshing.
Because it is free, there are no lockers, lifeguards and changing areas. Secure your personal belongings and swim at your own risk.
To help you decide, here is a quick video of our visit. Enjoy!
Google Maps Link: Tesoro Escondido Waterfall
Cost: 7,000 Costa Rican Colones
Travel Time: 1 hour and 40 minutes from La Fortuna
Time Spent: 3 hours
Background: This waterfall is in the cloud forest of Bajos del Toro and is about 65 meters high. It originated from the Desague River from the slopes of the Poàs volcano. It carries minerals from there that produces its intense deep blue color.
What to Expect:
Bajos del Toro has lots of waterfalls. We chose Tesoro Escondido because the name intrigued us. It is literally called “Hidden Treasure” and that is what we’re eager to discover.
We recommend for anyone to wear sturdy shoes, put on bug spray, bring snacks, raincoats (October and September), and extra clothes during the hike.
There are no tour guides. The entrance is on the left side of the main road before the town of Bajos del Toro. Walk right to the reception south of the parking lot and pay the admission fee. This gives you access to their property for the whole day. The only restrooms and changing facilities are in the reception area and there are none in the trails.
The trail starts next to the parking lot thru a wooden gate that leads to a slope at the side of a hill. After crossing the small hanging bridge high above a river, the trail gets steeper.
Trails could get rough and muddy depending on the time of the year. When it rains hard some streams become flooded and so there are bridges that you can use to get across.
After a few minutes of walking, you will enter a grazing field for horses and cattle. The trail will be mostly flat, but muddy after a heavy downpour. At the end of the meadow, you would have two options:
- Continue climbing the hill (to the left) to see the viewpoint
- Enter the gate to see the waterfall (to the right)
There are steps to get up the side of the hill, but they are uneven and steep. The view at the peak is well worth the hike. There is a wooden lookout with chairs where you can take awesome photos, admire the view and rest for a while.
Park workers constantly monitor current conditions by the waterfall especially after a heavy downpour. Take their advice seriously. I think that the hike towards the hidden waterfall is the most difficult. You would need to cross a river by just stepping on rocks and holding on a rope and climb on top of boulders. Expect to get your shoes wet.
It was incredible to see the deep blue waters at the base of the Tesoro Escondido Waterfall. Its power is just overwhelming. Swimming is allowed at the base of waterfall. Secure your belongings and follow the guidance of park workers.
There is another waterfall downstream from the river. You will have to hike down at the side of a hill. It could be slippery, and ropes are the only thing you can hold on to. You can also take a dip in this hidden swimming hole.
During our trip, we were only able to take a dip for a few minutes due to the rain. Workers asked us to get out of the river quick because it is about to flood. We got soaked on our way back, it was overall a great experience.
We changed to a set of fresh and dry clothes and ate at Restaurante La Familia where we met a beautiful family that served us typical Costa Rican dish.
Itching to swim on more celestial blue waters? We recommend exploring Rincon de la Vieja National Park.
Tired but grateful!
It is always fun to get out for a long drive and discover new places along the way. This is what we wanted for our Costa Rica trial retirement to be. To not know what kind of adventure the next page would bring.
All the body aches and discomfort we had both during and after the hike was worth it. Each time our pedometers light up saying we made it to 10,000 steps we felt proud and thankful. We are grateful for the opportunity to carve precious time for ourselves while we can still drag our bodies to climb mountains and cross rivers.
We are thankful to know that by being intentional with the way we live our lives we can afford a trip like this. Although we are still years from financial independence, we have the capability to reap some of its fruits along the way. It is because we know our sweet spot and we value the journey as much as the destination.
Have our suggestions been useful to you in rethinking your finances or planning your travel? Please let us know if we’re missing anything or if there is anything new we can try. We would love to hear from you!
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