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.

DifficultyModerate

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

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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.
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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.

Sleeping:

  • No problems camping in the National Park. Alternatively, basic accommodation is available at both ranger stations.
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Yours truly hunkering down on the rainswept summit.

Overview:

  • 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.