Located in a valley just a few miles east of the Miravalles Volcano, Bijagua is a small village in between the Miravalles Volcano and the Tenorio Volcano that promises big Costa Rican adventure. The virgin rainforest in this part of Alajuela is home to tropical animal species like pumas, tapirs, sloths, anteaters, coitis, giant butterflies and rare plant species, like the wild orchids. Bijagua is covered in acres of pastoral farmland with citrus groves and vegetable gardens. A birdwatchers paradise, the forests here provide critical habitat to squawking green parrots, macaws, humming birds and toucans.
Bijagua is known for its history of cheese making and promising ecological adventures, as it serves largely as the entrance to the Tenorio Volcano. Whether you're a foodie looking for your next big thrill or an avid outdoorsman seeking out Costa Rica's best kept natural wonders, Bijagua is sure to enthrall.
The green hillsides of Bijagua may be the perfect pastoral setting for a relaxing Costa Rican getaway, but they also provide the perfect sustenance for the creation of delicious cheese and dairy products. At Casitas Tenorio, a bed and breakfast/farm, visitors wake to the sound of tropical birds as well as the cacophony of howler monkeys. Guests can watch as sour cream and cheese are made by local artisans by hand, or tour the grounds and surrounding area for the chance to see jewel-toned hummingbirds or leisurely sloths.
Bijagua sits between two major volcanoes set off in either direction, and you're sure to find something that excites you. About five kilometers (or 2.3 miles) north of town is a rugged dirt road that leads to the Puesto El Pilon ranger station, Tenorio's main park entrance. Even if you are an experienced hiker, a four wheeler or other adventure vehicle is needed to traverse this initial rough stage of the journey. While buses from Bijagua are sometimes available, their schedules are often erratic, so be sure to plan your transportation options beforehand.
When in the park, journeyers can choose to embark on one of three main trails that are open to the public. The Sendero Ministerio del Tenorio is a 3.5 kilometer route that leads to the Los Chorros thermal springs where guests can choose which heat they want to soak in. While the waters are near boiling close to the trailhead, the waters cool dramatically the closer individuals get to the river.
The park provides critical habitat to various endangered species and offers guided hikes, hanging bridges, nature excursions and steep slopes with notable hiking trails. These well-maintained trails lead to main attraction of the region – Rio Celeste, with its breathtaking jewel-blue waterfalls, cobalt blue lagoons and boiling mud pools. Another trail from this area will lead you through the cloud forest and take you to the Lago Las Dantas, up the volcano and to the Bijagua Heliconia, an eco-lodge and a biological research station. This area is rich in incredible rare flora and fauna. A little further are the Yoko Hot Springs where you can immerse yourself in the soothing thermal waters.
Some other major attractions include the Cabo Rojo Fish and Wildlife Refuge – offering indigenous flora and fauna, the Las Pumas Wildcat Refuge – home to an incredible feline variety and the nearby Caño Negro – a remote nature refuge of Costa Rica, offering some of the best bird watching and fishing sites in Alajuela.
Where to stay
Accommodations available in Bijagua range from private lodges overlooking fresh water rivers to eco-lodges with cozy bedrooms. Casitas Tenorio, while quaint and extremely personal, includes only two casitas that may fill up quickly. Another great base for the area is the Heliconias Lodge. A cooperative that's run by a 23 families, this lodge is a joint effort of the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment and Energy as well as the World Wildlife Fund Canada. Income generated through stays at the lodge help support the work of local farmers and cattle raisers, as well as local businesses like hardware shops and supermarkets.