After a long day of guided tours, 14 hours to be exact, Abby and I felt it would be nice to go at our own pace and tour Costa Rica on our own. We loaded up early on the warm Monday morning, and trekked down the rocky dirt road to our next destination, Rio Celeste.
Driving in a foreign country can be intimidating, I have don it a few times before. The infrastructure in Costa Rica was not as well-maintained like back in the US but all were manageable if one used common sense and patience. For the most part, all the main roads up to the Tenorio Volcano National Park, where the Rio Celeste is located, were decently paved. Driving up to the park, I was bewildered by the livestock of the region. Cows for days and some free ranging without a fence were my roadside scenery. But within an instant, the farms turned to jungle like terra. Driving the curvy roads, the jungle would randomly be broken up by small communities and rivers.
Just 20 mins outside the park, we were driving down the highway. Abby said, “Look!” I slow down as I approached a bridge. My eyes have never seen water with such vibrant colors. Water flowing and babbling under a bridge but it was turquoise blue like someone melted jewelry in to a river. It was our first encounter with the Rio Celeste and it was breathtaking.
We continued our drive from the bridge down a road to the park. The first park felt to me like I was sitting in a massage chair with all the bumpiness, and the second part felt like I was climbing up to Everest in my not so sporty rental. We hit a curve and the blue natural wonder made another appearance. It seemed even more turquoise blue from the first encounter.
As we reached our final hilltop, we saw people excitedly wave us in to a parking lot. Vendors were sprinkled out all along the road. They were selling tour services, boots, ponchos and fruit. Passing the street side salesmen, we paid our way into the park at the front gate and began our journey into the park.
Inside the park, I saw similar vegetation that I saw at the hanging bridge tour. The Dragonblood tree was there with its blood-like sap and huge trunk size. Elephant ears and numerous vines decorated our walkway. Speaking of the walkway, I noticed the trail was nicely paved with no blemishes for the first part. The second part was slightly muddy, rocky and steep, but I have hiked worst in the north Georgia mountains.
The final climb up the hill was greeted with the sound of crashing water. “We were close,” I thought. We approached a stone staircase that had wooden guardrails. We made our descent and utilized those wooden rails. The steps were wet and slippery but, we made it after carefully navigated down to the first opening in the forest. The sight that awaited us was from our long trek was the turquoise waterfall. Words could not describe the beauty of the fall and flowing vibrant pool below it. We paused for a moment to take it in and capture the moment. The sounds and color of the fall were breathtaking. After our brief stop, we finished our climb down to the viewing platform.
The platform was not that crowded but a few people were enjoying the sight of the tranquil natural wonder. A mist from the fall covered us like a light morning dew. I thought to myself this is what heaven must look like, and God in his great power made this as heavenly preview on earth. The locals even say that God dipped his brush into the Rio Celeste to paint the sky. I think they were on to something.
After an hour of enjoying the view and capturing the moment, we doubled back to the front gate. We must have been more observant to nature after the past two days. Abby and I started noticing even more of nature’s beauty. From the brief rain shower that agitated the howler monkey to the slight coloration on the leaves, we gained a stronger respect and admiration of natural wonders that our all around us.
For more information on the Tenorio Volcano National Park and the Rio Celeste, check out https://www.costarica.com/attractions/tenorio-volcano-national-park.