There is something very special about waking up in the morning, throwing open your back doors and walking right out into the rain forest for an outdoor morning shower. Looking up at blue sky, watching the dewy fronds of the palm leaves wave above your head and feeling the warm breeze brush against you as the arm water rushes over you makes you feel alive in a way that a tiled indoor shower cubicle just never could.
Established as a National Park in 1995, Rio Celeste is in the cloud forest region. A massive 3.7 metres of rain falls here a year – around six times more than the UK – and that sometimes feels very wet! A legend tells that after God was done painting the sky, he washed his brushes in the river that now bears the name of Rio Celeste – Light Blue River. It was worth a 4 hour hike to see how beautiful this looks in real life.
We had pre-booked a half day hike in Tenorio National Park, visiting Catarata Waterfall, Laguna Azul and the hot springs. It is as well to pre-book an excursion like this as there is only one trail through the National Park and the numbers of people allowed to walk it are strictly limited. Only 500 are allowed in at a time – the next 500 have to wait in a holding area until there is space to enter. If you are number 1001, you won’t get in at all. Only 45 people are allowed down the steep, slippery steps to the waterfall at a time. The strong concrete rails (cleverly designed to look like wood) are useful to steady yourself. At least when you are in the Park though, you get a great view of the beautiful waterfall and lagoon which you definitely wouldn’t if there was free access. You can also see the volcanos from the trail, but they were shrouded in mist today. The cost of a guided tour from our hotel was pretty steep – $65 per person + $20 for a taxi to take you to the National Park entrance. You could easily have done this walk on your own and just paid the $12 National Park Entrance fees. You would need to get there at opening time (8am) to avoid a queue though. The park stops allowing visitors in at 2pm as it takes 4 hours to walk the trail and starting at 2pm would mean it was dark by the time you finished your walk. This is definitely not a good place to be after dark. That is when the jaguars, pumas and snakes come out to play. They have eyelash vipers, bush vipers and fer de lance vipers in this Park. Maybe it is a good idea to fork out for a guide after all then? The trail is very steep and muddy in places – hiking boots are your best choice of footwear.
Flora and Fauna:
The symbol of the Tenorio National Park is the tapir, but your chances of actually seeing this nocturnal mammal are only about 1%. You are likely to see black river turtles in the lagoon though.
Learning the Lingo:
Desayuno – Breakfast
Café con leche – Coffee with Milk
Cómo estás – How are you
Estoy bien gracias – I’m fine, thank you.
Con gusto – With pleasure/with pride
Glad I packed:
Several camera lens cloths – the high humidity plays havoc with your lenses.
Bug spray. I brought quite a lot, but am using it up quickly. Time to buy some more (something local and strong!) en route to the next stop. Definitely do not come here without it!
Wish I had packed:
A tiny travel speaker. My earphones are great, but it’s nice to share what you are listening to sometimes and sing/dance along together? I’m playing the theme tune from Dr. No – “Underneath the mango tree … ” it feels strangely appropriate here surrounded by all these tropical fruit trees!