Off the Beaten Path | Rincón de la Vieja

Rincón de la Vieja translates to The Old Woman’s Corner. Lest you think this name bizarre, here is the explanation from Wikipedia:

reference to a local legend about a girl whose lover was thrown into the crater by her father; she became a recluse living on the mountain, and was credited with powers of healing.

True, it’s still bizarre, but Yellowstone or Potholes State Parks may sound strange to you if English weren’t your first language. Just sayin’.

Rincon de la ViejaRincón, as it is oft referred to around Tamarindo, could refer to the volcano, which just spewed some smoke and ash this month, but it more likely references the national park. In any case, the park surrounds the volcano, so if you head to one or the other, you’ll be headed the same way. Don’t worry, it’s safe. You shouldn’t need your helmet.

Why You Should Go

From Tamarindo, Rincón is the closest national park with vertical ascents. Not only does the park reach for the stars, it also reflects them in its waterfalls.

KinkajouBecause this park stretches from the almost desert floor to micro-cloud forests, over 34,800 acres of land, you can experience many different environments in one trip. The park is home to over 300 species of birds, including the elusive quetzal, but also a number of mammals, like cougars, monkeys, and kinkajous. Never heard of a kinkajou?

What You Could Do There

It’s an open ticket. You could spin in circles if you want, but there are some organized events which are more appealing than catching a spin-buzz. The park is host to a ton of geothermal activity, which manifests around the park in hot springs or mud pools.

Trail activities: Hiking and horseback riding are two of the most popular trail activities in the park, but people also enjoy nature walks, bird-watching or mountain biking. If you’re not good with a map, best to find a tour guide, like these guys.

Rincon de la ViejaWater Fun: There are a number of water activities available too. You can take the lazy route, basking in one of the park’s natural hot springs. So easy, they are right off the main road through the park. If mild sulfur fragrances aren’t your thing, you can go tubing or waterfall hunting, The park is home to a number of waterfalls, in a variety of sizes.

How You’ll Get There

From Tamarindo, the easiest way is to join an existing tour, but you should know they’ll charge an additional fee. There are many outfits, like the aforementioned Anywhere Costa Rica, but that’s just one. They’ll usually pick you up at your hotel or vacation rental.

If you’re the rugged individual sort, you’ll have your own rental. This being the case, you’ve probably already scouted the best route, but just in case…

  1. Take the main drag out of Tamarindo to the crossing in Villarreal. It’s a T-crossing.
  2. In Villarreal, take a left, staying on that road all the way to Huacas.At Huacas, also a T-intersection, you take a right. Stay on that road until Belen.
  3. In Belen, you take the left to Liberia.
  4. The road to Liberia comes to an intersection under the Pacific 1 Freeway. The 1 is newly elevated. You’ll need to take a wide right, curve left under the freeway to head north along the frontage road. The frontage road may lead you back onto the freeway. Don’t panic. You’ll be able to exit.
  5. The turnoff for the park is just past Liberia, where the view shifts back to endless haciendas. There are technically three roads you can take, but only one is the most paved. Off the Pacific 1, take the exit for Currubandé. Follow the signs for the park.
  6. Up that road, as you start climbing, you’ll come to the park entrance.

The ranger will want to see your passports. He will charge you a park entrance fee ($15 at the time this was written) if you haven’t already bought a pass. You can find more information on this site, but you will need to speak Spanish or have a translator tool on your browser.

What else you should know

Rincon de la ViejaAs of this writing, the park is under some renovations. Upkeep of the park is a regular occurrence, but due to this recent work, there have been some closures. It’s still a wonderful place to visit near Tamarindo, but some people have been disappointed to discover closed sections after they arrive.

If you’re lucky, you’ll not only get to see may different animals, you’ll get to witness the volcano spewing smoke. In all likelihood, because of the recent spewing, you may find many folks on the same quest. People like to witness the Earth making noise. People also like to base jump. Maybe wear a helmet just in case.


Horizon Pacific Management & Rentals logoHorizon Pacific Management & Rentals is located in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. Horizon Pacific offers vacation rentals, property management, long-term rentals, as well as a complete concierge service. Providing you with a local contact during your stay, Horizon Pacific is a company you can trust, with the experience you need.

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