Volcan Rincon de la Vieja | Costa Rica

Cloud-covered summit of Rincon de la Vieja.

Distance:  16 km (9 mi) round trip from Las Pailas Ranger Station.

Average Time: 5 – 6 hours.

Start / Finish:

  • Transport to the national park can be arranged through the tourist office in Liberia. Alternatively, regular buses will take you as far as Curubande, from where it is a 10km walk to Las Pailas.


Season:  December to April offers the best chance of views.

Maps / Info:

  • You can pick up a basic trail map at either of the Ranger Stations mentioned above.

Basic trail map for Rincon de la Vieja National Park


Yours truly before the weather started to come in.

Route / Conditions:

  • As you can see from the photos below, the weather wasn’t great during much of my time on Rincon de la Vieja.
  • For photos taken in clearer conditions click here.

Waterfall on the trail to the summit.

  • I may not have seen much in the way of views, but I did spend an enjoyable couple of hours post-hike soaking in the sulfurous hot springs, situated 3km west of Santa Elena Ranger Station. Fantastic spot.


  • No problems camping in the National Park. Alternatively, basic accommodation is available at both ranger stations.

Yours truly hunkering down on the rainswept summit.


  • I hiked to the summit of Rincon de la Vieja in February 2000. Unfortunately, I had pretty ordinary weather while negotiating the upper reaches of the volcano. That being said, going from the photos I have seen and the opinions of others who have hiked Rincon in clearer weather, it appears to be a truly spectacular place. May be worth another visit one of these years!

Nelson (Canada) – Hiking partner for multiple hikes in Costa Rica.