Hiking, bird watching, and natural volcanic springs are only the beginning. There are almost too many reasons to include this area not the least of which is it’s nearly undiscovered.
Natural Attractions – Celeste Waterfall
At a glance these are what puts the region around Bijagua on the list of the best places in Costa Rica. From what’s on the list above you can see that Tenorio is natural Costa Rica at its best. No amusement park eco-rides here just authentic wilderness and authentic Costa Rican culture. The best way to experience the area, in fact the only way to see much of it, is on foot. You don’t have to be a Sherpa to visit the azure blue catarata río Celeste in Tenorio National park or the rainforest shrouded slopes of Miravalles volcano but you do have to walk because they’re only accessible by trail.
Anywhere you walk in the area you’re likely to see birds and other wildlife (even in or near town).
Most visitors come only for a day and see only a tiny portion of this amazing area – the 2.5 km and 231 steps to get from the main ranger station to the Celeste Waterfall.
Few continue along the trail to the tenderios where two uncolored rivers meet to form the amazing blue seen in the waterfall pool or the blue lagoon, borbolones, and natural hot springs. Fewer still visit the private reserve at Heliconias where some of the best canopy suspension bridges in Costa Rica span ravines and tree tops and another trail leads through the reserve into the National Park and Lago Danta in an extinct volcanic crater in the cloud forest.
Right across the road is Miravalles Volcano and the national park of the same name and it receives even fewer visitors.
NOTE: Damage from Hurricane Otto (Nov 2016) to the trails in Miravalles from the Bijagua has been repaired and the trails are open again as of May 2017!
This region is well worth four or five days rather than the four or five hours the few people who do come tend to spend. Unspoiled Costa Rica at its best…see it while you can.
Natural Hot Springs
NOTE: In 2017 the park service closed the east entrance and the trail to the hot springs due to overcrowding. Unfortunately there was really never room for more than a dozen people and tour buses with 40 were adding to visitors staying locally.
The hot springs here really are natural and even have manual temperature control – move the rocks to add or reduce the mix of cool river water.
For your own safety please respect all closures, warnings, and regulations posted by the park administration.
We considered adding an extra star to the rating system just for this region because five out of five doesn’t really do it justice.
Costa Rica is know for its incredible diversity of micro-climates, ecological zones and habitats and this valley between two volcanoes is a perfect example. The continental divide follows the slopes of volcán Miravalles down to the southeast to a point where Tenorio starts rising just outside Bijagua (in front of the Tenorio Lodge in fact). It’s not dramatic geographically and you won’t notice it as you’re driving or walking because the valley is quite broad here, but this dip in the continental divide is a mountain pass from the Caribbean slope to the Pacific.
This creates a natural flyway from Lago de Nicaragua, Caño Negro and the other wetlands in the northern Caribbean lowlands to the Pacific coast and Palo Verde wetlands along the río Tempisque. It seems unusual at first to see a flock of Roseate Spoonbills juxtaposed against the mountains but once you look a the geography it’s not surprising that this area hosts species from a wide range of habitats.
The town of Bijagua and the Tenorio region were directly in the path of Hurricane Otto on Thanksgiving Day 2016. Ten people were killed and couple of tiny communities in northern Costa Rica were devastated by the impact.
The area is well on the way to a full recovery and one of the best things you can do to contribute to the local economy is visit and spend money!
What Not to Expect Around Tenorio
Camping is not allowed in the national park so although there is quite a bit of hiking in the region there are no overnight treks or backpacking. To find out in advance what else you should not expect to find in Tenorio click to read more…