Celeste River is the main attraction at Tenorio Volcano National Park, El Pilón Ranger Station, which is located at the North border of the park. It takes about 90min to get to this station from La Fortuna by ground and 2 hours to complete the trail once inside the park.
Tenorio Volcano National Park is divided by the imaginary limits of Guanacaste and Alajuela, Provinces of Costa Rica. It is valuable as it is part of a main corridor of protected areas and National Parks that goes from Guanacaste National park in the North-East to La Amistad International Park in the South-West of Costa Rica, right through the middle of the country. This line gathers mountain ranges which constitute primary sites for water recharge of aquifers and therefore life sustainability. Tenorio is one of these high peaks where water is collected, gathered in rivers and feeds life all the way to the ocean.
Although Tenorio Volcano is not active, volcanic activity underneath makes this park particularly interesting. Water vapor, produced when water infiltrates the cracks in the rocks and gets close to the heat of lava, emerges to the surface in various places, even in the river! The smell of sulfur and other minerals is strong in this places.
National Park Administration took charge of the trail a few years ago, closing alternate trails from private hands, which were in terrible conditions due to the impressive amount of rains during winter. The park’s trail receives regular maintenance although it is reasonable to expect it gets muddy during winter. Therefore, hiking shoes are recommended when visiting this place.
From the start, a dense primary forest will surround you and if park is not crowded you might be able to see monkeys, sloths, toucans, great curassows, crested guans, dart frogs and some others. If not, after around 30 min you’ll reach Celeste River’s beautiful Waterfall. The park has build a great and safe descent trail to almost the base of the river with a wide observation area to snap some nice pictures.
Leaving the waterfall behind, the trail follows to the next interesting spot: the gas vents in the river. These are well known in places with volcanic activity, usually you see them in the ground expelling mud and heat, such as in Rincón de la Vieja National Park. However these at Tenorio Volcano NP were covered by the river and give the feeling of nature cooking something in a pot of boiling light-blue water (actually water is not boiling is just the bubbles of gas surfacing).
After walking a few minutes you’ll reach the place where magic happens: “Los Teñideros”, which can be translated as “The Dyers”. This is where water gets its beautiful blue color and it is awesome as the change from the transparent water and dyed water is almost immediate. An incredible natural event which explanation you’ll have to ask to your guide. Enjoy the hike!