Llanos de Cortés & Parque nacional Rincón de la Vieja

Published: April 28th 2018
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Rebecka and I reached Liberia around 11AM and went straight to the hostel I had booked, just 100m away from the bus station. Rebecka hadn’t booked anything and, unfortunately, when we got there, they had no free space for her... So I changed my booking : instead of staying 2 nights, 1 person, we would stay in a different hostel the first night and both stay there the next night. That was ok with the hostel and they even called a hostel nearby to ask if they have a free space for us. Fortunately they did, Hostel Pura Vida, and so we went there.

It’s a very small hostel and not so nice. It’s very clean, beds are good, but there is no real common area and there were lots of mosquitos in our room.

The owner of the hostel was very welcoming and friendly and she gave us a document with all important information about tours, buses and a map of Liberia. Liberia is a very small town and there is not much to do or too see, but the location is very good.

After lunch, we took a local bus to Llanos de Cortés waterfalls, about 20 minutes away (710C = colones = +/- 1$US). There, unfortunately, we had to walk about 20 minutes in a huge heat and we were pretty exhausted by the time we got to the waterfall not because the walk was long or difficult, just because it was so hot! The entrance fee of this park is 7$US (4$US for students) and it’s absolutely NOT worth this price ! There is just 1 waterfall and the area has been rearranged to be more a « natural » swimming pool with a beach than a real nature park. I guess, if you stay there the whole day and see it as a replacement for a swimming pool, it’s ok to pay 7$US, but if you just want to see it and spend an hour or so, it’s not worth paying this price.

It’s possible to walk up to the top of the waterfall and there are other pools a bit further, but apparently it’s a private property and you need a guide to go there. Since the entrance had already been so expensive, we really didn’t feel like paying more and so, after taking a few nice pictures, we left again.

Fortunately we cought a ride and a nice couple took us back to the main road where we got another ride from 2 nice guys back to Liberia.

Back in Liberia, we took another bus to Playa del Coco, about 1 hour away from Liberia on the Pacific coast. There, we walked a bit around, but there is not much to see or to do, so we went directly to the beach where we enjoyed the last hours of sun, swimming and seeing the sunset. Water here was much warmer than in San Juan del Sur, probably because this bay is a bit more protected and smaller than the one in SJS. Afterwards we had dinner in a quite « American » place. This town seemed to be full of Americans, but it wasn’t so bad. This restaurant had actually the best pizza I have had in a long time ! We enjoyed the food a lot and it was absolutely worth it’s money !

We had planned to hitchhike back, but since it was already dark, we preferred to take a bus. We had to run to get to the supermarket and buy some food for the next day and to still get the last bus, but we did and we had a nice ride back to our hostel.

It was already quite late and the last thing we did back in the hostel was prepare our food for the next day (salad, avocado, tomato, oignon for our sandwichs) and pack our bags again.

The next morning, we left our hostel at 6:30 AM to take the 6:40AM bus to Currubande, a town close to the national park Rincón de la vieja. There was just 1 other tourist couple going there, so it did not seem to be very touristic. When we arrived in Currubande, we knew why ! The entrance of the national park was still 10km away and there was no transportation going there and very few cars to hitchhike ! In addition to that, the last bus back was at 1PM and we would never get it, so we had to be lucky and get a ride back to Liberia. We should have taken a shuttle for 20$US, that would have been easier...

While the others waited for a car to come by and give them a ride (which they got in the end), Rebecka and I started walking and only got a ride half way. We got as far as the hotel, still 5km away from the entrance, and decided to take a bus up there. It cost 5$US p.P. per ride, but that was better than walking and there were almost no cars coming by...

The park was well worth the trouble and the 15$US entrance fee ! It was amazing, very beautiful landscape, lots of animals and nice trails. First, we walked to the waterfalls. This hike is about 3-4 hours and a bit exhausting. It was not very difficult, just enough to make you sweat a bit. :-). Part of the trail goes through the forest, part of it though steppe scenery. We saw lots of beautiful birds, butterflies and many monkeys playing in the trees. The waterfall was beautiful as well and much nicer than the Llanos de Cortés waterfall. We had lunch at the waterfall and waited for the tourist group that arrived just after us to leave again. The park was pretty empty, just a few groups and a few couple there, so it was very nice for us! :-D

Back at the entrance, we started the second hike, but you can’t really call it a hike, it was more of a walk. The trail was pretty easy and no challenge at all. Still, it was worth doing it, because we saw many mud pools with volcanic activity, boiling with the heat of the volcano’s gases.

I had been a bit disappointed to not be able to climb up the volcano - closed because of too much volcanic activity - but this was pretty nice as well. :-)

All in all, we had had a wonderful day in this beautiful national park and I can only recommend you to go there as well!

Fortunately, at the exit of the park, we found a very nice American couple that gave us a ride back to Liberia and we didn’t have to walk any more. :-) Even if the second trail had not been difficult, walking all day had been exhausting!

We exchanged with this couple about our travels - they wanted to know where we had been, what we had seen, how we had travelled - and they told us about how it feels to be an American at the moment, when thanks to your president you’re a joke to the whole world. They were really nice and it was a pleasure going back with them.

Back in Liberia, we had to change hostels and went to the supermarket to buy some food for that night. Then we had a good shower, cooked and read a bit. Nothing special, but we were both pretty tired and the next day we had to move on again, so we went to bed around 10:30PM.

We were pretty lucky : because we had changed my booking and they knew we wanted to be in the same room, they gave us for the price of a dorm a private room. :-)

Our hostel, Dodero Hostel, was quite nice and the staff was friendly and helpful. Everything was clean, but unfortunately there were only 2 toilets and 1 shower in the whole hostel. The kitchen wasn’t very spacious, but wifi worked very well !

Liberia is not a beautiful town and there is nothing to do or see there, but it’s a nice starting point to visit some very beautiful destinations around it and I can only recommend you to go there.

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