On the road from Arenal to Rincon de la Vieja you lounge lake Arenal, the biggest lake in Costa Rica for almost an hour and, when the clouds allow it, you can admire the view of the lake with its small islands and hilly mountains in the background. Once you leave the lake, the vegetation gets a bit drier and more sparse. However there is still plenty of water and we did stop for more waterfalls along the way.
In particular the Llano de Cortés had been recommended to us and rightfully so. It’s about a 1.5km walk to the waterfall, which also offers good swimming opportunities. The river drops over a huge cliff and creates a deep pool with a sandbank towards its end. Enterprising Costa Ricans have set up shop there and at the path entrance to sell you grilled meat, cold coconuts and much more. They will also happily charge you to protect your car from being broken into.
From the waterfall it’s just a short ride to Rincon de la Vieja and since it was only early afternoon we decided to keep on driving for a bit and enjoy the sunset at the beach, on playa hermosa, only 30min away from Rincon de la Vieja. We had time for a short swim and then sat and watched as the sun disappeared. The drive back in the dark, took a little longer than before as the Costa Ricans seem to enjoy lighting up their cars like christmas trees, making it very hard to see anything with oncoming traffic.
The next morning we drove to Rincon de La Vieja national park. While the crater itself is closed, there are still a few smaller hikes one can do there. In particular we did the short round to see the mudpools and the fumaroles.. If you’ve never seen these before Rincon de la Vieja is an interesting place to see. If you’ve seen fumaroles before, there’s going to be little excitement.
I did however do a second, slightly longer, hike to the Cangreja waterfall, which was absolutely beautiful. The hike itself was also an experience in itself. It first started out in forest, then led through small bushes before opening up into fields. I almost got attacked by a snake there. She definitely wasn’t afraid of me and I very definitely was scared of her, as we’d previously been told that this was one of the most poisonous snakes in Costa Rica. Finally the path rejoined the forest and led downwards towards the waterfall for the last couple of minutes before revealing the deep blue waterfall in its abundantly green surrounding.