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Friday, December 17, 2010

Rio Celeste – A Hidden Gem

Photos and article by Rachel Gelfer Hornaday

In recent years, Costa Rica has become a very popular destination for travelers because of the beautiful scenery, abundant wildlife, and amazing opportunity for adventure. But if you are one of the few that is going to Costa Rica and looking to see something that most travelers have not seen or heard about, then Rio Celeste should be on top of your “Must See” List! 

Located only a 2 hour drive from both Arenal and Guanacaste in the Tenorio Volcano National Park, Rio Celeste is truly a hidden gem in the mountains of Costa Rica. This river is named for its majestic sky blue color caused by the volcanic minerals from the mountain. The hike itself is about 4 hours long. The beginning of the hike passes through beautiful rainforest. Your guide will be able to point out a number of birds and plants, and if you are lucky, you might be able to see a monkey or two. Depending on which route you choose to take on the loop, you will either get to the waterfall or the hot springs first. Our guide recommended we do the waterfall first because this is the steepest and most slippery part of the hike, but it was also the most majestic part as well. 

Words can not describe this enchanted site, but be prepared for a river crossing to get to the other side where the trail continues. It is also a good idea to do this part first, to ensure that you beat the afternoon rain and are able to access the river before it gets too high from the rains. It was also nice to get the strenuous part of the hike over so that we felt that we had earned our time to relax in the natural hot springs at the bank of the river.

Feeling refreshed and very uplifted by the beauty we had just experienced, we hiked the serene trail out of the park. There is a little soda (restaurant) at the entrance to the trail. Here you have a chance to sit down and enjoy a typical Costa Rica lunch while reflecting on the adventures of your day. You can feel good about knowing that the money you pay for lunch (almost always included in the price of your tour) is going to help the local community. 

Out of the many times I have visited Costa Rica and of all the amazing experiences I have had there, The Rio Celeste hike is by far my most favorite.

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