Rincon de la vieja cratere
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Rincon de la Vieja National Park

One of the protected parks of the Guanacaste Conservation Area (ACG), Rincon de la Vieja National Park is one of the most surprisingly biodiverse. Known for its astonishing diversity of flora and fauna, this national park is home to two volcanoes, Rincon de la Vieja and Santa Maria, as well as six other volcanic peaks and 32 rivers and streams.

Magnificent scenery, beautiful waterfalls, soothing hot springs, bubbling mud pits, a volcanic freshwater lagoon and winding trails for walking and horseback riding are all part of this exceptional ecosystem.

The flora and fauna at Rincon de la Vieja

This national park is influenced by both the Caribbean and the Pacific. It is divided into two sectors, Las Pailas (Pacific) and Santa Maria (Caribbean). The volcano slopes on the Pacific side are much drier, while those on the Caribbean side are green, wet and lush.

Spread over 14,083 hectares, the park is home to an impressive array of insects and birds.

Common sightings include the spider monkey, the word-mot, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, owls, eagles, toucanets, toucans, coatimundis, iguanas and, more rarely, jaguars, pumas and tapirs. Also abundant here amid the verdant vegetation are Guaria Morada orchids, Costa Rica’s national flower, as well as a plethora of Laurel and Guanacaste.

The ascent to the volcano’s crater requires a day’s round trip, and hikers will enjoy breathtaking views of the Nicoya Peninsula and Lake Nicaragua, and of course the Rincon de la Vieja crater. If you’re planning this hike, don’t forget to take sufficient drinking water and warm, waterproof clothing, as the weather can change very quickly at the summit.

Depending on your courage and physical condition, there are a number of 2 to 8-hour hikes to discover the flora and fauna of this remote region. The ascent is the longest hike and requires good physical condition.

You can also enjoy the thermal waters, as the volcano’s activity is characterized by pools of bubbling sulphurous water and mud, fumaroles and geysers releasing gas and steam.

The legend

Princess Curabanda had fallen in love with Mixcoac, chief of a neighboring enemy tribe. When Curabanda’s father learned of the affair, he had Mixcoac captured and thrown into the crater. Mad with grief, Curabanda fled and settled next to the volcano, where she gave birth to a son. To allow the child to be with his father, she threw him into the volcano.

She stayed by the volcano for the rest of her life and became a renowned healer. People who wanted to go there to be cured would say: we’re going to the old lady’s corner, the Rincon de la Vieja!

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