This section provides directions and map to Rincon de la Vieja so you can go on volcano tours and eco excursions from Liberia, Liberia Airport, Guanacaste hotels and Upala, Alejuela. Heading north and south along the Pan American Highway, past Liberia, Guanacaste, there are four exits heading east that lead to different entry points along Rincon de la Vieja National Park. Soon after turning off the highway, the roads heading to the park usually become gravel. A car with good clearance, like a four-wheel drive, is recommended. There are many rent-a-car agencies. Another option is to book your volcano tour and a shuttle through the hotel you are staying at or through a hotel by the Rincon de la Vieja National Park. In fact, the easiest way to get to Rincon de la Vieja National Park tour is to book a tour through a hotel Guanacaste hotel or Rincon de la Vieja mountain lodge, a tour operator or a travel agency.
There are two major urban centers on either side of Rincon de la Vieja:
Liberia: Is the provincial capital of Guanacaste, and has many hotels. Most will book excursions and transportation to the Rincon de la Vieja. The beach resorts to the will also book excursions. Those to the west are a 30 minute to 1.5 hour drive away from Liberia. Beach resorts to the north (around La Cruz) are will access the turn-offs to Rincon de la Vieja (30 minutes to Caribbean side) by driving south along the Pan American highway.
Upala: Is north-east of Rincon de la Vieja in the province of Alejuela.
Keep in mind that Christmas and Easter (the holy week) gets particularly busy because urban Costa Ricans take long vacations.
Liberia, Guanacaste is a major city and Costa Rica's second major port of entry for international tourists. Costa Rica's main highway corridor, the Pan American Highway, runs north-south through Liberia and connects through San Jose and Panama to the south and Nicaragua to the north. Liberia's Daniel Oduber International Airport is the major hub for the beach resorts of Guanacaste and nearby Rincón de la Vieja. Flights from within Costa Rica and international destinations arrive daily. The beaches are 30 minutes to 1 ½ hours away by car to the west. These include Papagayo, Hermaso, El Coco, Ocotal, Flamingo and Tamaringo.
The following directions begin in Liberia, at the traffic light intersection along the Pan American Highway at Avenida Central (Hwy 21), called "los semaforos" by the locals.
- To Las Pailas Ranger Station:
Drive north along the Pan American Highway past Liberia for 3 miles/ 5.8 km and turn right at the signs for Curubande/Rincón de la Vieja National Park/Las Pailas sector. Travel 8.6 miles/14 kilometres on a dirt road to the village of Curubande which is 8,5 miles / 13.6 km away and continue in the same direction along the same road. Watch for signs to Rincón de la Vieja National Park/Las Pailas sector. To reach Hacienda Guachipelín travel past Curubande for 1mile/1,7km. By car travel time is approximately 1 hour. Shuttles from Liberia are available daily and are reasonably priced.
Guided tours through Las Pailas can also take place beginning at Borenquen Resort. To get there turn right (east) at the Canas Dulces turn-off. . By car it takes approximately 1 hour 15 minutes.
2. To Santa Maria Ranger Station:
Drive south of the Liberia intersection along the Pan American Highway Drive for 12 km / 7 miles and turn left (east) at the sign marked Barrio La Victoria / Rincon de la Vieja and follow the signs. The trip take about 1 ½ hours by car. Follow the main road and watch for signs.
From Blue River Resort & Hot Springs, the entrance to the trails along the Caribbean side of Rincon de la Vieja Park is only 2 km away. Using a guide to hike the volcano is a must, which can be organized through the hotel - but book in advance. The drive from Liberia and Upala begins in dry open pastures, through dry forest, then through a transition forest, before entering a lush rainforest valley. The mountain views are spectacular.
From Liberia, the directions begin from the traffic light intersection along the Pan American Highway at Avenida Central (Hwy 21), called "los semaforos" by the locals. From Upala, we begin along the highway #4 heading west out of the city.
To the Caribbean Side
*Note: Many signs are posted with directions to Blue River Resort & Hot Springs. This is great place to begin your holiday adventure from.
Travel 18 km north along the Pan American Highway. Watch for and follow signs leading to Quebrada Grande and Blue River Resort & Hot Springs. Many current maps incorrectly show Quebrada Grande as Garcia Flamenco (its former name) and do not include the road network that extends past the town.
Turn right (east) and drive through Potrerillos. The road is well paved except for the final 20 km to Blue River Resort & Hot Spring..
Drive past Quebrada Grande, where the road abruptly turns left. Continue through a section of the Guanacaste Conservation Area (ACG) which leads to the town of Dos Rios. In-between these areas, the road turn to gravel for the final 20 km. Drive into Dos Rios and take a right and then left, following the signs to Blue River Resort and Hot Springs.
Drive through the village of El Gavilán and cross the bridge over the blue volcanic river, Rio Celeste. Follow the sign pointing left to Blue River Resort & Hot Springs and you are 600 meters away.
By car, the drive takes approximately one hour to 1 ½ hours, depending upon your vehicle and how quickly you drive. To view a map with the route – click here..
From Upala, Alejuela
From Upala, Alejuela the Caribbean side of Rincon de la Vieja. is closest and easiest to get to. Upala is a less travelled, scenic route. The final 24 km are along a gravel road. There are fewer well marked signs showing the way to Blue River Resort & Hot Springs, so don't hesitate to stop and ask locals for directions.
The drive should take about 1 ½ hours. To see a Rincon de la Vieja map with directions to the Caribbean side – click here.
Liberia is a major urban center and the capital of Guanacaste. There are many Guanacaste hotels and most will book excursions and transportation to Rincon de la Vieja. It is Costa Rica's second major transportation hub. First off, it is located along the Pan America Highway. This is the Costa Rica's major north-south highway that connects through San Jose and Panama to the south and Nicaragua to the north. Secondly, many international tourists and nationals come via Liberia's Daniel Oduber International Airport, which is the second busiest in the county.
Guanacaste Beach Resorts
Many tourists base themselves out of the popular Guanacaste hotel beach destinations using Liberia's airport as their point of entry. The most popular beaches are about 30 minutes away from the airport. Both hotels and tour operators offer Rincon de la Vieja excursions. There are also many rent-a-car agencies, enabling the freedom to get to Rincon de la Vieja independently. The popular beach areas are Papagayo, Hermaso, El Coco, Ocotal, Flamingo and Tamarindo.
About 65 km north-east of Rincon de la Vieja is the city of Upala, Alejuela. Cana Negro, a wildlife refuge for birds, is nearby and one of Blue River Resort & Hot Springs eco-excursions. Driving via Upala is more scenic than the Pan American Highway. Look for signs leaving Upala that mark the way to Blue River Resort & Hot Springs.
See Rincon de la Vieja Map – for Caribbean side and Blue River Resort & Hot Springs