Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park (Parque Nacional Rincon de la Vieja) is a park of 14,161 hectares (34,990 acres) covering a dry tropical forest region in the provinces of Guanacaste and Alajuela , centered around the volcano, Rincón de la Vieja, and the surrounding volcanic and natural features. Sights include an extraordinary amount of interesting flora and fauna, as well as plenty of hot bubbling sulphurous mud pits and a little "mini-volcano." This national park is great for day tours in Guanacaste for those who love hiking and adventure. This national park is especially famous for its large geothermic activity and secondary volcanic activity.
The closest park to the Papagayo, Coco, Hermosa, Flamingo, Tamarindo area. This park has lots of volcanic activity, fumaroles, boiling mud pots, vapor vents, sulfur vents, forests, wild life. Great for a one-day tour with the whole family. There are more complicated trails for expert hikers as well, like the crater top or the sulfur springs "Los Azufrales". There is a convenience at the entrance of the park with bathrooms. The park is closed on Mondays.
This national park was ratified on 27 December 1982. It is a part of the protected area of the Conservation Area Guanacaste, (ACG) and operates in conjunction with the National Parks of Guanacaste and Santa Rosa, the Vida Silvestre Wildlife Refuge and the Horizontes Experimental Forestry Station.
The park is divided into two sectors: Pailas and Santa Maria.
- The Pailas sector was named after the volcanic eruptions that are located in the area, including fumaroles and mud pots.
- The Santa Maria sector was, from the late 19th century to 1973 one of the largest ranches in the area. It raised beef and dairy cattle, and produced coffee and sugar cane.
The park forms park of the watershed for the province of Guanacaste. The province has 32 rivers, including the el Colorado, Blanco and the Ahogados.
In addition, there are 16 intermittent streams, which supply the rivers in the province.
Flora and fauna
Upper forest trees are of small stature and are twisted and covered with epiphytes. Rincon de la Vieja is a refuge for a large population the national flower Guaria Morada (Guarianthe skinneri). Tree species such as Laurel (Cordia alliodora), Guanacaste (Enterolobium cyclocarpum), Spanish Cedar (Cedrela odorata), Copperwood (Bursera simaruba) and Copey (Clusia major) are abundant, as are strangler figs (Ficus sp.).
Approximately 300 bird species inhabit the park including the Keel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus), the Collared Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus), the Crested Guan (Penelope purpurascens), the Blue-crowned Motmot (Momotus momota), the Turquoise-browed Motmot (Eumomota superciliosa), the Black-faced Solitaire (Myadestes melanops), and Long-tailed Manakin (Chiroxiphia linearis).
Mammals in the park include three species of monkey: the white-headed capuchin (Cebus capucinus), the mantled howler (Alouatta palliata), and Geoffroy's spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi). The white-nosed coati (Nasua narica), Central American agouti (Dasyprocta punctata), northern tamandua (Tamandua mexicana) and Hoffmann's two-toed sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni) are also present. Reptiles in the park include black iguanas (Ctenosaura similis) and green iguanas (Iguana iguana).
The park is accessible only by car. From Liberia it's 5 km north up the Inter-American Highway, turn right (east) towards Curubande and head 17 km, then keep going until you pass through Hacienda Guachipelin. The park hours are Tu-Su 07:00-15:00.
Be certain you have a spare tire and jack in your car. The gravel road has many sharp edges to the gravel. A two-wheel-drive car can make the journey weather permitting. A four wheel drive car is advisable during the wet season.
Fees and permits
The entrance fee is US$10.
Due to this high volcanic activity and plethora of rivers in the park, hot springs are very popular.
The Gauchipelín hot spring is one of the more well-known ones, as it has a more natural feel and is right next to a river. Right next to these springs is the mud bath. The mud used for the mud baths is taken directly from the ground where the thermal energy bubbles up. This soupy, gray mud is full of volcanic minerals. Mud baths like these have been done for centuries. They are believed to have many health benefits. Relieving stress and purifying, exfoliating, and softening the skin are just some of the many benefits linked to volcanic mud. Many believe that minerals like zinc and magnesium can alleviate inflammation. Sulfur, which is found in volcanic ash, is even said to help reverse the aging process.
Along with the hot springs and mud bath, Rincón de la Vieja is known for its seven large waterfalls, each with unique characteristics. One of the park's bigger waterfall is the Oropéndola Waterfall. The waterfall itself is stunning. It flows 82 feet (25 meters) over a rocky, moss-covered canyon. The water is a rich turquoise color. It gets its unique hue from minerals in the soil that are abundant in this volcanic region. There is a set of metal stairs where visitors can get into the riverbed, and explore the base of the waterfall, furthermore, jumping in is possible during certain times of the year when conditions are safe.
- Restaurante La Hacienda (Rinon de la Vieja, at Guachipelin's main entrance), ☏ . 06:30-21:00. Restaurant with panoramic view of the coast line and the flat lands. from US$10.
- Blue River Resort & Hot Springs (Drive north from Liberia along Panamerican, take exit at Quebrada Grande and follow signs),), ☏ . North base of Rincon de la Vieja volcano national park in the rainforest - Cabins among 4 natural mineral hot springs pools, a fresh water pool with a bullet waterslide, full service spa, botanical gardens, butterfly farm, tours to volcanic blue river, waterfalls, horseback riding and nature hikes.
- Buena Vista Del Rincon (formerly Buena Vista Lodge), In Liberia, from Burger King 13 kilometers on the Interamericana road, towards Peñas Blancas, until you get to the entrance of Cañas Dulces –only entrance towards the east- (on the right hand side) that is paved, then you drive 18 km towards the towns of Cañas Dulces and Buena Vista that are on the way, ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Presents the daily life in a Hacienda in Guanacaste. Has operated under sustainable tourism principles since 1991. Adventures tours are available in the hotel. US$36.
- 1 Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin, Rincon de la Vieja, Guanacaste, Costa rica (From Liberia take road #1, 5 Km. turn right at Rincon de la Vieja Entrance 17 km, passing a gated entrance.), ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Nested in a hacienda at the base of the most visited volcano in Guanacaste. Still operating as a traditional cattle ranch. Closest hotel to National Park Rincon de la Viejat. Tours for all ages, from soft to hard adventure. Hiking, horseback rides, canopy tours, canyoning and white water tubing. US$44.
- Bourinquen Resort & Spa, Rincon de la Vieja (Liberia, Guanacaste), ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Opened in 1999. Take advantage of the curative properties that have long been attributed to mineral rich waters and mud-pots. 2 bungalow rooms with facilities, and 1 junior suite. Have 100% accessible rooms and public areas including the restaurant La Carreta, front desk and lobby, pool, spa, stables and other surrounding areas and strive to cope with any special needs. 5 room styles, can cater to weddings and special events.
- Casa Rural Aroma de Campo, Curubande, Liberia (From Liberia, take the highway north 1.5 km. Turn east onto the road for Rincon de la Vieja. Go about 14km to Curubande. 2 km after passing through town, find this place on your left. There are signs for the 300 m driveway on the right side of the road. Small vehicles should drive up the driveway with care.), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a 6-room B&B-style hotel with family-style meals and a nice location on the top of the hill.
- El Sol Verde, Curubande, Liberia, ☏ , email@example.com. This is a B&B-style place with both rooms and tent cabins. Breakfast is offered, though dinner is not.