El Rincon de La Vieja National Park and Volcano

“El rincon de la vieja” is a national park in the norhtwestern part of Costa Rica in the Province of Guanacaste, about 25 kilometers from the city of Liberia. The Park is divided in two areas “las Pailas” and “ Santa Maria” and is one of the most diverse national parks of the country. You can find a dry forest to a cloud forest in a volcanic environment. Moreover, the national park offers a lot of trails, peaks, waterfalls, geysers, hot springs, camping and wildlife. The park is the home of the still active and famous volcano “Rincon de la Vieja” which is 1,916 meters high and 15 km wide.

The 600.000-year-old massive has 9 craters and 32 rivers flowing down its sides. Together with its sleeping sister, Santa Maria Volcano, they form the center of the beautiful National Park “Rincon de la Vieja”, which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Guanacaste Conservation Area.

Due to the indigenous legend the Princess Curubandá, who has been the daugther of the chief of the Curubandé tribe felt in love with the son of an enemy tribal chief. By throwing Prince Mixcoac into the crater of the active volcano Curubandá’s father ended the life of her forbidden lover.

Brokenhearted and in deepest mourning the princess decided to live the rest of her live on the volcano’s slope. With the years she learned to use the volcano’s medicine and became a healer.

When people have been sick and were searching for help, they were told to go to the “old women’s corner” and that’s the story how this volcano received its name.

The Pailas area is the most spectacular area in which the power of the active “Rincon de la Vieja” can be seen. That’s the place where you can find fumaroles, mini geysers, bubbling volcanic mud pools, jungle waterfalls and hot springs. Hiking the park on the “Las Pailas” trail takes you 3.5 kilometers through and exotic tropical dry forest. Its incredible nature and volcanic activity is home to 300 species of birds like the rare toucanets and blue-crowned motmots, many mammals, as howler and white-faced spider monkey, armadillos, pumas and coatis. More adventurous visitors can take a day-long hike to the top of the summit via a six-mile trail that originates at “Las Pailas”.

You will see Von Seebach, the main crater of the volcano, periodically spew steam as evidence of its geothermal activity. From the summit and if the weather allows it you can see the “Nicoya Peninsula” as well as the “Lago de Nicaragua” The best place to relax after a day of hiking and exploring is the Rio Negro Hotsprings and Mud Bath. Here the crystal-clear waters of the river flow near the 10 pools built on the riverbank, filled with thermal waters rich in minerals, naturally heated in the depths of the volcano. You can access the pools on both banks of the river thanks to two suspension bridges.

For a rejuvenating treatment on your body, you can use the hot volcanic mud, which works just like a spa body masque. When the mud dries, you can wash it in the cold waters of the river before entering the thermal water pools again.

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