The Rincon de la Vieja volcano is a massive 600-year-old geological wonder with at least nine volcanic cones. Geothermal activities relates to the heat found under the earth. In and around the region of Rincon de la Vieja, volcanic activity isn't far from the surface.
Rincon de la Vieja showcases geothermal features, similar to that seen in parks like Yellowstone (in the USA) or Rotorua (in New Zealand). Along the north slopes of the volcano (the Caribbean side),the rainforest begins. The geothermal activity means what to see includes unique volcanic "blue" rivers and natural mineral "green" hot springs. Along the Pacific side (the southern slope) of Rincon de la Vieja volcano at Las Pailas and Las Hornillas, take an enjoyable hike to witness boiling mud pots, sulphur springs, steam vents and fumaroles.
One of the largest geothermal electricity generating projects in the world is scattered through the valley between Rincon de la Vieja volcano and the Miravales Volcano. Stainless steel turbines snake their way from wells driven into the earth to turbine generating stations near Guayabal or La Fortuna de Bagaces. Investigations have been carried out into the feasibility of tapping Rincon de la Vieja's reserves and the volcano is estimated to have a generating potential of 140 megawatts. However, since Rincon de la Vieja is a protected national park, drilling has been limited to test wells. Further drilling will require approval, following environmental impact studies.
For more in-depth information about the volcanoes of Costa Rica and Rincon de la Vieja read over www.ovsicori.una.ac.cr – for those who can understand Spanish.
OVSICORI-A has developed the System Monitoring Volcanoes in Costa Rica. It integrates a group of professional disciplines for diagnosing and assessing the activity of volcanoes. Additionally there is a warning system in place to ensure proper steps are taken to mitigate the impact of volcanic eruptions.
Inside Rincon de la Vieja National Park is an impressive array of wildlife. There are some 300 bird species. Examples include: three wattled bell birds, white fronted parrots, blue-throated goldentails, hummingbirds, spectacled owls, woodpeckers, tanagers, motmots, eagles, resplendent quetzals, creted guan, blue-crowned marmot, laughing falcon, red trogen, black-faced solitaire, great curassow, elegant trogon, montezuma oropendola, white-fronted amazon and guaco and emerald toucan. A suggested book to have on hand in Costa Rica is "A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica" by Stiles and Stutch.
Among the mammals you will spot and even be greeted by are white-faced monkeys, spider and howler monkeys, coatis, anteaters, red brocket deer, two-toed sloths, squirrels, skunks, collared peccaries, agoutis, kinkajous, tapits, elegant trogans, northern tamandua, tayras, nine-banded armadillos, jaguars, pumas, cougars and tapirs. There are also numerous reptiles and amphibians. And let's not forget the Central American butterflies, native to Costa Rica, with four species of the beautiful blue morpho butterfly.
The vegetation is verdant. Its high forested slopes feature gnarled trees draped in moss mats that provide the arboreal base for orchids and epiphytes. Diverse habitats are created by the changes in altitude, rainfall, the effect of eruptions and the type of substrate. In the lower regions trees include the Guanacaste, freijo, gumbo-limbo, bitter cedar and capulin. In the central region (between 1200 and 1400 meters) the most abundant trees are the copey, poor man's umbrella, highland tinamous, manwood, calabash, jicaro danto and didymopanax. Beginning at 1,400 meters and continuing almost to the peak, the woods are low and the densely-branched trees are covered with mosses and other epiphytes. The many varieties of orchids growing upon the mosses include the national flower of Costa Rica called the guaria morada orchid or purple orchid (Guarianthe skinner). The most interesting plant is the strangler fig, seen towering throughout the park, with a hollow trunk, the only memory of the tree it has devoured.
Tour Rincon de la Vieja through Blue River Resort
Read about Caribbean side of Rincon de la Vieja
What to Consider When Visiting the Pacific side of Rincon de la Vieja.
Rincon de la Vieja has two distinctly different sides for tourists to enjoy, each with entrances to the park. The Caribbean side is defined as being along the north boundary of the Rincon de la Vieja National Park and the Pacific side is along the west boundary. Your vacation here is all about ecotourism, with many places to visit, volcano tours and adventure. Ecotourism lodges, hotels and resorts are dotted all around the base or you can choose from many hotels in nearby Liberia, Guanacaste, Costa Rica.
The weather along Rincon de la Vieja's Pacific side is similar to the beach resorts of Guanacaste – dry and hot. Contrast this with the Caribbean (north) side of Rincon de la Vieja with the more moderate climate and lush rainforest. On both sides, as you enter Rincon de la Vieja National Park you'll be in the rainforest. The park's changing elevation and geographic features provide for a great variety of weather, geography and animal habitats. However, there is a marked difference between the experience and activities available from either side of the Rincon de la Vieja.
Along the region along the Pacific side of Rincon de la Vieja is one of the hotter drier areas of Costa Rica, with more predictable seasons than the rest of Costa Rica. The land is dry tropical forest and open pastures for animals. There is less and more predictable rain.
From December to April (the dry season) the chance of rain is far less. However, if hiking into the Rincon de la Vieja National Park, it will be different. You'll enter the rainforest and ascend into the past. Rainforest means rainy, so expect to get wet, throughout year.
The rainy (green) season lasts from May to November. The rain can come down any day and is less predictable. However, it usually lasts a short duration and occurs during the middle afternoon. In July or August there is usually a two or three week dry spell called Veranillo de San Juan (saint Joseph's little summer).
The region around the Pacific side of Rincon de la Vieja is famous for cowboys and cattle ranching. Expect to see mostly dry open fields used for pastures and grazing cattle. This region was once all covered in dense, tropical, dry, forest. Now, most of the forest is sheltered within protected zones such as Rincon de la Vieja.
Tourism attractions first began along the Pacific side. Today, many hotels, resorts, mountain lodges, haciendas, and bed & breakfasts dot the roads leading up the entrances to Rincon de la Vieja's Pacific side. Most offer guided tours to Rincon de la Vieja and larger operations also offer excursions such as zip line canopy tours and horseback riding. It is the most popular one day tours as a place to visit for tourists in Guanacaste.
There are also numerous waterfalls in the area, the largest one being Oropendola Watersfall (25 meters) and La Victoria Waterfall (35 meters) which pour into the Colorado area. The geothermal activity in the area has also been harnessed to produce hot water pools and bubbling mud pools. After a long day of exploration, this can be very therapeutic for sore bodies.
Mountain biking is popular along the gravel roads near the park. Bikes are available for rent in Liberia
Hiking into the Rincon de la Vieja National Park begins well before the entering the actual park and there are several routes to choose from. Inside the park the Pacific side has two park ranger stations where you pass by and must pay the entry fee.
The hike begins well before entering the park and the ascent is more gradual. Upon entering the park, you will come upon rainforest. A unique marvel are the mud pots, and small mud depressions which bubble continuously, Homillas geysers release jets of steam (sulphur dioxide and hydrogen sulphide), particularly during the rainy season; and mud cones in all shapes and sizes. The trails on the Pacific side of Rincon de la Vieja are well marked and its possible to make the hike without a guide.
From Liberia, The drive depends upon where you enter, so it ranges from approximately 25 to 50 km, much of it along gravel roads. > Getting There
Rincon de la Vieja can be visited all year around. There is more and less predictable rain, during the wet season. The Pacific side (just outside Rincon de la Vieja), receives less rain than the Caribbean side. The rain usually comes down around mid afternoon but these showers are a delightful part of the experience.
If you plan on hiking to the top of Rincon de la Vieja, the craters are often covered in cloud, especially later in the day. Plan to get there early since this obstructs the views. The fumaroles and boiling mud pots, which are popular places to visit, are found along the Pacific side, are most active during the wet season. Either time of year, check weather reports and leave early for the best chances for a day with no rain and clear skies. And remember, when hiking Rincon de la Vieja, bring lots of water, a light coat for rain and a change of clothes to accommodate the changing temperatures.
This Costa Rica park, Rincon de la Vieja, along the Pacific side is near Liberia, Guanacaste, Costa Rica and the most popular places to visit for visitors in Guanacaste. The region is dry, but upon entering Rincon de la Vieja national park it becomes rainforest. Costa Rican tourism abounds here with adventure that includes volcano tours, hikes, zip lining etc. Many Costa Rica tourists come to this area.
There are many Rincon de la Vieja Hotels and Mountain Lodges in and around Guanacaste.
The Guanacaste hotels and national park hotels that border the Pacific side of Rincon de la Vieja are Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin and Hotel Borinquen.