costa rica national parks rincon de la vieja costa rica volcanoes

costa rica national parks rincon de la vieja costa rica volcanoes
The Rincon de la Vieja massif, 1,916 meters high, is a composite structure. Nine eruptive spots have been identified on its peak, some of which still have fumorale activity. The park contain hot springs which give rise to very hot mountain streams (see photo); sulfuric ponds with small mud-filled depressions which bubble continuously; geysers releasing jets of stream, particularly during the rainy season; and mud cones in all shapes and sizes. Several waterfall exist throughout the park, as does a small freshwater lake which lies south of the main crater. In addition, Rincon de la Vieja contains what is probably the largest existing growth of the national flower-"guaria morada" ( purple orchid ) found in the wild in Costa Rica.

Rincon de la Vieja National Park contains diverse habitats, produced by the differences in altitude and rainfall, the effect of volcanic eruptions and the type of slope. In the lower regions, trees include the Guanacaste, freijo, gumbo-limbo, bitter cedar and capulin. In the central region, between 1,200 and 1,400 meters, the most abundant trees are the cupey, manwood, calabash, jicaro danto and didymopanax. Beginning at 1,400 meters and continuing up to near the peak, the woods are low and the densely-branched trees covered with mosses and other epiphytes. The most common trees are the cupey, didymopanax and crespon. The peak of the volcano is covered with ash and has very sparse vegetation. Plants include the cupey and the poor man's umbrella. The tapir, highland tinamous, black guan and several cat species are very numerous in this region.

Within the park, 357 species of birds have been sighted, including the three-wattled bellbird, great curassow, emerald toucanet, elegant trogon, blue-throated goldentail, spectacled owl, white-fronted amazon and guaco. Some other mammals found here include the red brocket deer, collared peccary, agouti, tayra. Northern tamandua, two-toed sloth, and howler, white-faced and spider monkeys. Insects are very numerous and include four species of the abundant and beautiful morpho butterflies.

Special Considerations
Horseback riding, bubbling mud pits, geysers of sulfer dioxide and hydrogen are just a few of the unique attractions at Rincon de la Vieja. However, any visit to Rincon de la Vieja without a visit to the Blue Lagoon is one wasted. Approximately 30 minutes from the park headquarters, this small lagoon is blue as a result of special minerals in the lagoon's underlaying stones. A large waterfall constantly replenishes the lagoon while a small hot spring to its left provides a warm welcome relief. The color of the lagoon is at its bluest during the dry season, as the volume of rainfall is at its lowest level. Difficult to find on your own, any lodge will gladly bring you to this special place in the tropics.

Rincon de la Vieja also offers terrific opportunities for those interested in mountain biking. While riding along the trails is prohibited, there are roads which wind throughout the park, all of which are challenging and easily accessible. Mountain bike shops are present in the town of Liberia.

How To Get There
Rincon de la Vieja, unlike most parks, is nearly impossible to access with public transportation. Located 6 km ( 3.6 miles ) north of Liberia, along the Pan-American Highway, there is a sign for the town of Cereceda on the right side of the road. This dirt road is in good condition and passes through large deposits of white volcanic rock. Ample parking is available at the ranger station, as with the lodges which surround the park. For those using public transportation, we recommend that you take one of the many direct buses which depart daily from San Jose to Liberia. Most lodges will provide pick-up service from Liberia for an additional cost. Be sure to arrange for this service long before arriving in Liberia.

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