Rincón de la Vieja National Park & Volcano, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Rincon de la Vieja Volcano
Rincón de la Vieja is the largest and most active volcano in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Standing at 6,286 feet (1,916 meters) high and 9 miles (15 km) wide, the giant is called the “Colossus of Guanacaste”. The massive 600,000-year-old geological wonder has at least nine volcanic craters, and at least 32 rivers flow down its sides which bridge the Continental Divide.
The impressive Rincón de la Vieja Volcano and its dormant sister Santa María Volcano form the center of the fantastic Rincón de la Vieja National Park – part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Guanacaste Conservation Area.
Located 15.5 miles (25 km) northeast of Liberia in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, the park’s 24,800 acres (14,090 hectares) are split into two sections: Las Pailas and Santa María. Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin is located minutes from the Las Pailas entrance to the national park.
Meaning “The Cauldrons” in Spanish, the Las Pailas area spectacularly shows off the awesome power of the live Rincón de la Vieja Volcano. Steaming fumaroles, mini-geysers, bubbling volcanic mud pits, natural hot springs and jungle waterfalls give you an incredible experience like no other volcano in Costa Rica. Although the volcano’s activity once served as a natural lighthouse for ships at sea, its last big eruption was in 1998.
Hiking in the Rincón de la Vieja National Park on the Las Pailas loop trail takes you 2.5 miles (3.5 km) through exotic dry tropical forest to see incredible nature, volcanic activity and wildlife. Rincón de la Vieja National Park is home to 300 bird species and many mammals, including white-faced, howler and spider monkeys, armadillos, collared peccaries, pumas and white-nosed coatis.
The Rincon de la Vieja National Park is closed on Mondays.
The legend of Rincon de la Vieja Volcano
Rincón de la Vieja means “Corner of the Old Woman”. An indigenous legend tells about Princess Curubandá, daughter of the Curubandé tribe chieftain, who fell in love with Prince Mixcoac, the son of an enemy tribe chief. Curubandá’s father ended her forbidden lover’s life by throwing him into the live volcano crater. Devastated, Curubandá became a recluse living the rest of her life high on the volcano’s slope. She learned natural medicines from the volcano and developed healing powers. People seeking medicinal cures were told to go to “the corner of the old woman” by the volcano. And thus, the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano received its name.