Hike alongside the sky-blue Rio Celeste

Huge waterfall at Rio Celeste
Huge waterfall at Rio Celeste

Costa Rica hiking is a popular pastime for tourists from all over the world. The country is justly famous for its glorious scenery and stunning views. A hike that should be on every visitor's must-do list is the trail of the Río Celeste, the Heavenly River.

Heavenly River

The Río Celeste gets its name from the unusual color of the water. The deep turquoise hue is due to a phenomenon known as Mie scattering. In a nutshell, when the Buenavista River with its aluminum and silicon particles meets the Sour Creek, with its acidic waters, the resulting combination causes the suspended particles in the Río Celeste to scatter light, creating the turquoise color.

As it winds its way through the Tenorio Volcano National Park, the river path includes a waterfall, Laguna Azul, a suspended bridge, and the Borbollones, a section of the river bubbling with hot springs. There is a great deal to see and do along the Heavenly River that will delight tourists and offer a new hiking experience.

Hiking the Trail

The Río Celeste trail is 3.7 miles long round trip and is not particularly strenuous. You should plan on about three hours to complete it. Depending upon the time of year, however, it can become very muddy. The mud can slow the hike down quite a bit. Hikers should be prepared with waterproof hiking boots or shoes. It's also a great idea to take along rain gear, such as a poncho or light jacket.

In the event of extreme weather, the Tenorio Volcano National Park may close. Tourists must stay on top of weather conditions and always check with the park to be sure it is open for hiking.

No swimming is allowed inside the national park. This is for conservation reasons. The goal is to keep the habitat as pristine as possible. Outside the park there are areas for public swimming. Tourists are welcome to take a dip in the turquoise waters in the approved sections.

Features Along the Trail

The first section of the trail is paved and leads to the waterfall. This is a breathtaking sight that enthralls thousands of visitors every year. Continuing past the waterfall, hikers come to a mirador, or lookout point. From this platform there are lovely views of the rain forest and the national park.

The next stop on the trail brings visitors to Laguna Azul, or the Blue Lagoon. The turquoise color is so intense here it resembles a scene from a fairy tale. Following the lagoon is the Borbollones, a Spanish word that means gushing. The strong sulfur smell here announces to all visitors the presence of hot springs.

A hanging bridge provides a little adventure as hikers cross a portion of the river, finally arriving at the Tenideros, or the place where the two rivers meet. It's fascinating to observe two clear streams of water joining into a brilliant burst of blue. It's worth hiking to the end to see this event first-hand. After reaching Tenideros, it's a simple return trip down the same path.

Other Things To Do and See in the Area

There are additional options for tourists visiting the Río Celeste. Hikers can take guided tours of the national park while they are in the neighborhood. There are also places to stay overnight and eat in the vicinity for those visitors wishing to make it a longer trip.

The primary reason for visiting the Tenorio Volcano National Park and the Río Celeste is to appreciate the natural beauty that is unique to Costa Rica. Tourists who make the effort to visit this northern end of the country are rewarded with a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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