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In the Region
Parks & Refuges
Volcán Rincón de la Vieja National Park
Lomas de Barbudal Bilogical Reserve
Hacienda Guachipelín
Volcán Rincón de la Vieja National Park Print e-mail this page to someone who might be interested

There are two places in the area where you can visit Yellowstone or Rotorua-like geothermal sites. If you like to walk, boiling hot mud springs, sulfur springs, steam vents, and fumaroles are abundant at Las Pilas and Las Hornillas (not to be confused with Las Hornillas on the slopes of volcán Miravalles, near the village of La Fortuna de Bagaces) on the southern slope of the volcano inside the park.


Rincón de la Vieja eruption 1967
Rincón de la Vieja eruption 1967 (photographer unknown).
The activity isn’t far from the surface anywhere in the region.  One of the largest geothermal electricity generation projects in the world is scattered through the valley between Rincón de la Vieja and volcán Miravalles. Driving near Guayabal or La Fortuna de Bagaces you can't help but notice the stainless steel steam delivery pipes that snake their way from wells driven into the earth to the turbines in the generating stations.

The name, Rincón de la Vieja, translates to English as 'the old woman's corner.' According to locals, the indigenous people of the Guatuso tribe named the volcano thus for one of two reasons. Either there was an old witch on top of the mountain who sent columns of smoke into the air when she was angry, or there was a kindly old woman occupying the same nook, and the smoke was from her cooking fire as she prepared meals for weary travelers. Maybe it's both because the Rincón de la Vieja crater has had at least eight periods of intense volcanic activity, and still bubbles and steams.

The hike to the craters of Von Seebach and Rincón de la Vieja is rigorous but spectacular. Starting in tropical moist forest, you climb into premontane wet forest where the trees covered with epiphytic vegetation hunch closer to the ground in the harsher climate. The final ascent is over exposed lava rock, climbing steeply and often in the clouds.

This is one of the hotter drier areas of Costa Rica, and the whole region around Rincón de la Vieja has more predictable seasons than the rest of Costa Rica. The chance of rain is much less during the dry season from December to April, but the higher you climb, the more likely you are to get wet... any time of the year.

Although it is fairly likely that it will rain on any given day during the rainy season (AKA the green season), it is also fairly likely that it will be a short shower in mid-afternoon. The rainy season which lasts from May until November is also usually interrupted by a two or three week dry spell in late July or August called the Veranillo de San Juan (saint Joseph's little summer).

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Quick Facts
Volcán Rincón de la Vieja National Park covers 14087 hectares. Elevations range from 980 to 1987 meters (3215 to 6519 feet).
The habitats represented here are cloud forest
tropical rainforest-upland
tropical dry forest

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Tico Trivia
Cebia or Kapok (Cebia petandra) trees are best known for producing fibers used in life preservers and furniture cushions, but their name comes from the Caribbean word for the canoes (cebia) that were carved from its long, straight, soft trunks.
Costa Rican Natural History, Daniel Janzen
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