The area is a collection of small, scattered villages, adventure ranches and lodges near the national park and volcano that share the same name. Rincon de la Vieja literally translates as “Old Woman’s Corner” and legend has it that it is named after a powerful healer who lived near the volcano. People referred to her home as the old woman’s corner, and the name finally stuck.
Because of its remoteness, Rincon de la Vieja used to receive few visitors around the time when the park opened in 1973. Nowadays, visitors stay at the lodges near the park or arrange tours or day trips from Liberia.
Many tourists come to soak in the amazing hot springs, which are said to have therapeutic properties. The area also contains a vast number of trails leading to incredible lagoons and sights, such as the Las Pailas Trail, where you will find a volcancito or tiny volcano, smoking fumaroles and bubbling mud pots.
Loads of adrenaline-pumping tours can be arranged at Rincon de la Vieja’s adventure lodges, including canyoning, white-water rafting, canopy ziplining, tubing, rafting and horseback riding.
Planning a vacation to Rincon de la Vieja
We recommend limiting your stay in the Rincon de la Vieja area to 2 - 3 days (though we recommend 2 days in most situations). It is very hot and dry in this area. While the adventures are great, the heat can be exhausting.
There are no real luxury hotels in the Rincon de la Vieja area. The majority of hotels are mid-range adventure lodges. We recommend Hacienda Guachipelin, Canyon de la Vieja Lodge and Borinquen Resort.
While we have touched on the fact that there are many adventure activities in the Rincon de la Vieja area, we highly recommend visiting the Las Pailas section of the park. This is where the majority of hot springs, fumeroles and bubbling mud pits are located.
Reasons to visit
- The area provides a nice selection of adventure activities
- If you visit the Las Pailas section of the national park, you will be able to observe volcanic activity
- This is an off the beaten path destination which will show you the cultural traditions of Guanacaste, Costa Rica
- It is close to Liberia Airport and the northern Guanacaste beaches
- It is a tropical dry forest, which is one of the most endangered habitats
Reasons NOT to visit
- There are no all inclusive resorts
- There are no luxury accommodations
- It is hot and dry
- It is a tropical dry forest on the south and west side where most lodges are located, so there is no rainforest on these sides.
- You are not interested in a cultural experience
How to get there
From Liberia: There is no public transportation connecting Liberia and Rincon de la Vieja, however, you may drive, hire a 4WD taxi, or arrange transportation with any of the lodges to get there. If you are driving, a 4WD is strongly recommended because the roads are rough and unpaved, particularly during the rainy season.
If you are driving, you may reach the national park’s Las Pailas sector by driving about 5 km north of Liberia on the Interamerican Highway and taking a turn where you see the sign.
Weather and packing list
The Rincon de la Vieja area enjoys the same fantastic weather as the rest of Costa Rica’s Northwest Pacific region. Temperatures here hover in the upper 80s to lower 90s during the day, while nighttime lows often hit the upper 70s. Precipitation levels vary year round and the best of the sun and dry heat is reserved for the months of November to August, while the worst of the rainy season is usually during September and October.
Don’t forget to pack your hiking gear, including some good shoes to tread around the park’s multiple trails. Throw in a few t-shirts, shorts, pants and rain gear and make sure to bring sunblock and insect repellant. Review our Costa Rica packing list for more ideas.
Fun Fact: Rincon de la Vieja literally translates as “Old Woman’s Corner” and legend has it that it is named after a powerful healer who lived near the volcano.