Tag Archives: Rincon de la Vieja

Horseback Riding in Rincon de la Vieja National Park

Rincon de la Vieja is not amongst the most visited national parks in Costa Rica which is the reason discerning adventurers head here to enjoy horseback riding adventures away from the crowds. Although the park (and whole Guanacaste region) are becoming more popular thanks to the extension of the Liberia International Airport, this is still a side of the country not everyone gets to experience.

If you’re after a quieter and more immersive wilderness experience on your next adventure vacation in Costa Rica, and simply wish to share your spoils with fewer people on horseback, consider Rincon De la Vieja an exceptional choice.


Overview of Rincon de la Vieja – Best Way to Visit

This stunning park is merely 16 miles north-east of the town of Liberia and its airport, taking as little as an hour’s drive to reach with no traffic. That means you can enjoy a horseback riding tour here even if you’re simply passing through and transiting to other Costa Rican provinces – a day off either before or after your flight is all you need to at least get a taste of this beautiful Guanacaste highlight.

Rincon de la Vieja comprises 35,000 acres of sensational wilderness, comprising the arresting Rincon de la Vieja Volcano (one of only two active volcanoes in the country) as well as the slightly taller Santa Maria Volcano, and a bevy of natural hot springs and mud baths, gorgeous waterfalls and unspoiled jungles and forests, all inhabited by a wide array of exotic wildlife.


The park is easy to explore on foot given the well-maintained trails but there’s no denying you can see and do more when you visit on a horseback riding tour, especially on a hot summer’s day.

Given the remoteness and relative isolation of the park, visits are difficult to organize independently – everyone stays in a lodge or resort nearby and most will simply organize their transfers and excursions directly through their accommodation. Even if you have a rental car or can book out a taxi for an entire day, it’s unarguably easier and more enjoyable to visit on an organised tour. With a local guide to show you around and private transport at your beck and call, everything is infinitely more enjoyable.

Which is probably why our horseback riding tours to Rincon de la Vieja are so very popular!

horseback riding

The park is open 8am to 3pm, six days a week (closed on Mondays) and boasts two entrances: one at Santa Maria and one at Las Pailas. Entry fee is USD $15 at time of writing.

The two entrances offer quite distinct experiences, with Las Pailas (on the Pacific side) home to hot springs and mud pools and being much drier, and the Caribbean entrance (Santa Maria) showcasing much more luscious wilderness and, usually, a higher chance of rain.

Please note that although Rincon de la Vieja Volcano has not erupted for thousands of years, small signs of (smokey) life were visible in 2011 and, as a precaution, hikes to the rim have not been allowed since. Expect warm temps all year (ranging between 80 and 90 F) with much drier and hotter conditions on the Las Pailas side and more rain yet slightly cooler temps on the Santa Maria side.


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Wildlife & wilderness of Rincon de la Vieja

The dense and pristine forests of Rincon hide a stunning array of creatures, among them three distinct species of monkeys (howler, white-faced and spider), three species of wild cats (jaguars, ocelots and pumas), as well as armadillos, tapirs, an impressive array of tropical snakes and other reptiles and nearly 300 species of exotic birds, among them owls, falcons and plenty of beautifully colorful parrots.

The wilderness here is quite unique and varied, part of the reason the park was nationalised and protected in the early 1970s. The rich fertile volcanic soil nourishes both dry and rain forests, with rare flora in abundance.

white faced capuchins

Overview of Rincon de la Vieja tours

Horseback riding in Rincon de la Vieja is one of the most popular inclusions in our adventure tours of Guanacaste. Not only is horseback riding perfect if you want to explore the luscious national park without the need to hike, but it’s an activity that’s at the very heart of local culture – stepping into the shoes of a Tico cowboy or girl is a fantastic way to enjoy a cultural experience and a superlative excursion in nature to boot.

Plus, Rincon boasts sublime waterfalls you can actually swim in so what better way to hit an adventure trifecta than by horseback riding, wildlife-spotting and waterfall swimming all on the same excursion?!

Horseback ride to Oropendola Waterfall – This lesser-visited waterfall would have to rate as one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful secret gems and most standard horseback riding tours will take you here. Oropendola is a gorgeous 82-foot cascade that creates a turquoise pool at its base, in which you can swim. On a leisurely, hour-long ride, you’ll meander through the tropical dry forests of the Las Pailas side of the park, reaching the canyon and the very top of the falls. A quick hike down will see you reach the base and that marvelous natural pool. You’ll have plenty of time to frolic in the refreshing waters of the Rio Bianco – expect the excursion to take between 2.5 and 3 hours.

What to pack – Make sure you’re wearing closed shoes and long pants for the ride (you’ll be given a safety riding helmet), don’t forget sunscreen and do pack some bug spray as well. If you fancy a swim, bring a towel and wear your swimming costume underneath your clothes, as there won’t be anywhere for you to change once you reach the top of the canyon.

If all this is starting to sound a little too tame for you, adventurous thrill-seeker you, then we have an even better and more exhilarating option: a FULL-ON adventure day in the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano park!


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Our Extreme Adventure Full-day Excursion in Rincon De La Vieja

There’s more than one reason National Geographic named us one of the best adventure travel companies on earth – we certainly don’t do things by half-measures. For the thrill-seeker and adventure-lover, we serve up an intense, thrill-filled day in Rincon de la Vieja that includes horseback riding – one we rate among the best we offer.

Want some serious fun? Then how about rappelling down a canyon wall and then rock-climbing back up, flying along no fewer than eight exceptional zip-lines, tackling a horseback ride to the wilder Colorado River, where you’ll jump into inflatable kayaks for a stint of heart-stopping whitewater rafting, before finally relaxing and unwinding in one of the park’s many natural mud pools.

We offer this superb adventure day out complete with private transfers and, of course, our best and most experienced bilingual guides. If it’s an especially adventurous day out in Rincon that you’re after, and a unique horseback ride, this will certainly hit the spot.


Our Rincon de la Vieja Adventure day with horseback ride in Rincon de la Vieja is one of several Tamarindo Activity Options we have on offer. On all our tours, we include private transfers from wherever you happen to be staying, bilingual guides as well as a delectable lunch on our full-day excursions. Travelling to Costa Rica with kids? Just let us know and we can plan a day out the whole family will love.

Here’s some more adventure inspiration for your upcoming visit:

Private surf lesson – Spend a couple of hours on Tamarindo’s world-renowned waves, guided by a professional surfing instructor, and you and go home with a brand-new skill under your belt. We can organize lessons for beginner, intermediate and advanced surfers and can plan alternative activities if you’re travelling with friends or family members who don’t wish to surf.

Beach paddle boarding – Easier and undoubtedly more relaxing than surfing, stand-up paddle boarding is one of the most enjoyable activities to be had on Costa Rica’s beaches, lakes, rivers and estuaries. In Tamarindo, you can enjoy the thrills of ocean boarding!

Sport fishing – This is one of Costa Rica’s quietest achievers, an activity that attracts avid anglers from all over the world. Head off into open water with your master fisher-guide, on the lookout for saltfish and marlin (which we’ll release back into the sea) or tuna and mahi-mahi (which we can clean and fillet for you to take back to your lodge).

Tamarindo estuary kayak & walking tour – This 2-hour adventure will see you explore the Tamarindo estuary, home to crocodiles, iguanas, sea birds, howler monkeys and a host of other tropical wildlife, both by boat and on foot.

Sunset cruise – Spend an entire afternoon sailing along the Pacific coastline of Guanacaste and you’ll be in for an exquisite experience. Be on the lookout for sea turtles, dolphins and whales whilst enjoying a delicious cocktail and a wonderful lunch. Next, snorkel and relax as you wait for the most amazing spectacle of all: a Guanacaste sunset!

Turtle nesting tour – Head to Guanacaste between October and March and you can join a night-time turtle nesting tour. The beaches of Tamarindo are among the world’s most important sea turtle nesting sites, attracting hundreds of leatherback turtles during the nesting season. Casting your eyes on this magical spectacle is a truly priceless Costa Rica experience.

At Costa Rica Rios, we don’t just run some of the best-organised adventure tours in the world, we also plan bespoke itineraries and private tours that are designed with your specific interests and needs in mind. No matter where or when you wish to enjoy a horseback ride, be it in Guanacaste, Rincon de la Vieja or any of our other preferred destinations, just let us know and we’ll do our best to make it happen.

Contact us below and let us help you plan the Costa Rica adventure of a lifetime!

Here are a few more guides you may find useful:

US & Canada: 888 434-0776 | UK: 0800 612 8718 | International: +1 920 434-7485



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Discover the Majestic Mountains of Costa Rica

Costa Rica may be best known as an ideal sun-worshipper’s paradise, and very few would ever dare argue. With its seemingly endless stretches of beautiful beaches, all framed by luscious tropical jungles cascading straight into crystal clear waters, there’s no denying that, in this nook of the world, surf is queen.

Yet discerning travellers know that Costa Rica is a country which has been inherently shaped by its majestic mountains. Every aspect about this enticing land has been formed, coloured and flavoured by its five mountain ranges. The mountains in costa rica are beautiful. Collectively, they’ve spawned 16 climate zones, 14 major river systems, numerous caves and canyons, seven active volcanoes and over 60 which are either extinct or temporarily pretending to be. Overall, Costa Rica’s horizon is dotted by 176 peaks. When you consider just how small this country really is (ranked 129th in the world by area) then those numbers start to sound quite impressive indeed.

Naturally, this spells great news for all those who enjoy idyllic beaches yet wish for a healthy dose of active pursuits when on vacation. After all, as all adrenalin junkies know far too well: Where there’s a mountain…there’s always adventure!

The adventurer’s dream locations

The most revered aspect of Costa Rica is its diminutive size, which makes a rewarding and varied vacation infinitely easy. You have no excuse to not choose visiting here: you could easily go from beach to peak in a matter of hours. Adrenal junkies, or anyone who loves to get their pulses racing in stunning natural surroundings, will have an absolute field day in this most diverse Central American country.

Here’s a general overview of Costa Rica’s majestic mountains, and all they have to offer…for your adventurous pleasure.

Cordillera Central

Turrialba VolcanoHome to some of the most famous volcanoes in the country, including Irazu (the highest at 3,432m), Poás, Barva and Turrialba, the Cordillera Central is part of the Andean-Sierra Madre Mountain Range which runs the entire western spine of the Americas. Recent seismic activity has caused both concerns and enticement, and this region is becoming increasingly popular with adventure seekers who wish to get off the beaten path, as infrastructure here is still somewhat limited. The sheer amount of fun and active pursuits which can be offered here makes this one of the most popular spots in the whole country, and the one from where Costa Rica Rios run their week-long adventure trips. Along with Cordillera Talamanaca, this is Costa Rica’s only other mainland UNESCO listed site.

Cordillera de Guanacaste

The Cordillera de Guanacaste is on the northern edge of Costa Rica, and rides its wave along the border with Nicaragua. The three most popular volcanoes here are Rincón de la Vieja, Miravalles and Oros; with the first two being spectacularly semi-active. The ease of access, excellent infrastructure, magnificent nature and proximity to the coast make this arguably the very best mountain range to explore. This is the one of very few places where you can hike up a volcano, and frolic in the turquoise waters of the Pacific, all on the same day. Cordillera de Tilarán

Volcano ArenalVolcano Arenal, one of the world’s most active peaks, resides in this splendid mountain range, which continues just south-east of Guanacaste. Just south of Lake Arenal is the Monteverde Cloud Forest, one of Costa Rica’s premier eco-tourism destinations and a phenomenal wildlife lover’s paradise.

Cordillera de Talamanca

This southern mountain range is shared between Costa Rica and Panama, and home to the former’s highest peak: Cerro Chirripó, which stands at 3,820m above sea level. A summit ascent of Chirripó is one of Costa Rica’s many bucket-list activities yet is anything but a walk in the park. The challenging hike requires much sweat, a few tears and perhaps a few emotional outbursts but, it should be said, is infinitely rewarding and very much worth all the work. Talamanca is geologically distinctive from its northerly neighbours and is, essentially, one ginormous granite batholith. It was inducted in the UNESCO World Heritage Club in 1983, and was the first Costa Rican treasure to have been bestowed this honour.

Cerros de Escazú

The Cerros de Escazú is often considered a northern extension of Talamanca, and makes up a big portion of popular San José Province. Although the whole country is renowned for its biodiversity, this region is particularly rich in flora and fauna variety, and is thus under Presidential Order protection. Particularly popular with hikers, rock-climbers and mountain bikers, the Cerros de Escazú offer excellent side-trip options from San José. 

Planning an action-packed adventure in Costa Rica is child’s play, as you can see, so if you wish to bring home more than just a suntan you’d do well to include a few mountain escapades in your trip itinerary. Indulge in the trip of a lifetime with Costa Rica Rios and we’ll prove to you that if Costa Rica’s surf is queen, then its peaks are most definitely king.