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Rincon de la Vieja

March 25, 2012

Rincon (Parque Nacional Rincon de la Vieja) is a national park in the dry highlands of Western Costa Rica. The  park is on the slopes of a volcano which hasn’t erupted since 1998 but is still considered active.  It’s a 15km drive from Liberia up a road which varies between paved to a fairly rotten gravel. However coaches make it up even though 4 wheel drive is recommended.

On arriving  at the car park at the park there was a gale force wind blowing. The camper was rocking from side to side. We had intended to camp here but the strength of the wind soon changed our minds.

We settled down to have some lunch before heading into the park and opened one of the camper windows. Big mistake. The wind gusted and picked up the window flipped it up to vertical and it fell off ! Well we couldn’t fix it here so we headed off back down the mountain to somewhere it wasn’t so ridiculously windy. We stopped off at the Hotel Guachipelin which had a convenient wall which we could park next too and use as a ladder. We asked for some help at the hotel and the maintenance guy came out. The size of the window means it’s a two person job to fix back in.

Well window fixed we headed back to Liberia but we were determined to come back.

A couple of days later we headed back up the hill to the park. This was our first encounter with how expensive Costa Rican National Parks are – it was US$10 each. We paid up and had to register where we were going in the park with the Rangers.

First off we did a simple loop walk which is what 90% of the visitors to the park do. This took us through some dry forest where we saw some monkeys to some geothermal features such as bubbling mud pools and a mini-volcano. It was a nice walk but a bit crowded at times and left us wanting more. Unfortunately the hike to the volcano crater was closed because of the wind as this is meant to be a beautiful hike.

We came back to the entrance and decided to head off on one of the longer hikes to a waterfall. The trail started off through the forest but about half way it emerged into an upland meadow. It was at this point that the trail started to climb. There was a gale force wind straight in our faces which made walking hard work and you needed to constantly watch your balance as the wind could make you take a mis-step on the rocky and steep trail.#

Once we reached the top of the hill the wind became almost too much. We were bent right over walking through it and barely making progress. We later learnt that someone had been killed here recently having been blown over a cliff. However we soon went over the top and descended to a small stream which we followed for a couple of 100 metres to a small but pretty shaded waterfall.

The walk back was more precarious as the wind was behind us as we descended.

We were glad  to make it back to the parking lot and headed back down to Liberia as it was still to windy to open the windows and too hot to sleep with them shut !

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