Rio Celeste and Tenorio Volcano National Park | Costa Rica8 min read
MAKING OUR WAY TO COSTA RICA
Ever wonder how much beauty and diversity Nicaragua has to offer? It’s crazy to think after a month of backpacking we only had a grasp of it! However, we got a great view of colonial cities, lush tropical jungle and paradise beaches. After such an adventure we felt sceptical about touristy and overpriced Costa Rica.
For those who are on the budget – use the opportunity to volunteer through Workaway. You can read our volunteering experience here! There are many amazing projects going on and it will help you to save a fortune while travelling. That being said, we had 12 days to explore other locations.
PASSING THE BORDER FROM NICARAGUA
Crossing the border at Peñas Blancas was close enough to get to by chicken bus but to be fair it was one hell of a journey. First, we got on the bus at San Juan Del Sur and made it to Rivas 30C(~0.7£). If you speak Spanish just ask the driver to drop you by the road where you can get a bus to Peñas Blancas 20C(~0.5£). If not you will get off at the main bus stop. Get more info about popular scams in Rivas here.
Two months in Central America and we knew that border crossing is a bit chaotic. People will try to sell you many things and will offer currency exchange. Stay calm and kindly refuse it. Walkthrough the Nicaraguan immigration, pay $1 municipality tax and $2 for the exit, get a stamp. End of story. After 5 minute walk, you will see Costa Rican immigration, no need to take a cycle taxi for that.
WHAT TO BRING:
- Passport (valid at least 6 months in advance)
- Printed ticket of onward journey, proof that you are leaving Costa Rica,
- Pen to fill up the immigration form,
- Small notes (dollars or colones) for a bus ticket
Buses to Liberia $2.9~2.3£ and San Jose 8$~6£ leave in every hour. For more information please click here
SLEEPOVER IN LIBERIA
If you are looking for a sleepover in Liberia Hostal Nanku is probably the best option because of prices and location. The bus station was right next to and in the morning we continued our itinerary towards Tenorio National Park.
WHERE IS BIJAGUA AND HOW TO GET THERE
In order to reach Bijagua – the closest town to park – first take a bus to Cañas and then change to another bus in direction to Upala. Transportation in Costa Rica is much more developed compared to Guatemala or Nicaragua.
Bijagua is such a remote town you will never hear about it unless visiting Rio Celeste. There are a couple of hostels in the area but we opted for the real experience with a local family. Our Airbnb host was more than just a landlady. Thanks to Claudina we witnessed genuine Costa Rican culture and warm hospitality. Spanish was the only way to communicate so we had to quickly increase our store of vocabulary! No better way to learn the language than talking with natives.
WHERE IS RIO CELESTE AND HOW TO GET THERE
With no public transportation to park entrances taxi drivers are offering 50$ for return ride (~38£). Keeping our budget tight we hitchhiked in both ways. It’s easier than you think! Apparently hitchhiking is a common thing in Costa Rica and we honestly had no troubles. One thing to mention we were mainly picked up by foreigners for short rides.
So we made it to the park gates. Try to arrive as early as possible to avoid the crowds. To our surprise we had to pay entry fee 10$(~7.8£) It’s possible to pay by card, we found it truly bizarre. The trail to the waterfall is really easy and takes about 20 minutes. Then you just have to descend 250 steps – the surroundings and lush green blew our minds!
What so special about Rio Celeste? What you will witness is a result of minerals reflecting the sunlight and giving the water its intense deep blue colour. In the end, it’s all-optical illusion!
Luckily the weather was on our side – it didn’t rain and there was no mud. As the dirt part starts you can continue another 40 minutes up to the Mirador. Further down the trail, we discovered Laguna Azul. At this point, we decided it would be awesome to use the drone. If you are familiar with DJI Spark you will easily guess what can happen when your phone restarts while controlling the drone in the air. This happened to us and within a few seconds, the drone was auto-landing right in the middle of a lagoon. What are you doing in this case? You are jumping into the river and catching before it hits the water. Until very day it brings us shivers to remember this situation!
Although Monika was soaking wet we still hang out for a bit and went to see low bridges. The last and the most scenic part of the trial!
Note: Swimming and flying a drone (we found out only afterwards) is prohibited anywhere in the park, however you can visit Cabinas Piuri and use their own access to the river.
WHERE TO EAT
- Finca Verde invites with all sort of tours and lovely tour guides will show you local tree sloths, there is a cafe inside where you can try their local beans!
- Hummingbird Cafe; laid back cafe surrounded by jungle, few vegan options,
- Las Tinajitas; local soda with a decent selection of Costa Rican dishes, you can create your own meal, vegan options available,
- Cafe la Semilla; cute outdoor setting and friendly owners,