Today we decided to get up off our beach bums and head inland just a small day trip to some hot springs. I did some minor research and know that the one around La Fortuna is the popular one and most visited. However, it was a long day for us being based in Tamarindo. So after asking around at our place and looking online, I found some hot springs closer to us, at the Santa Maria Sector of the national park, only about 1 hour 45 minutes from our beach.
So we got up in the morning, made breakfast and coffee and went on our way. It was all quite smooth. I did read online that some of the route could be a dirt road and that is exactly what I got literally as I went outside of Liberia to the east. Again, I did read that it was only about 20 KM from Liberia. That can be slower going on a dirt road. At first I thought I was on a wild goose chase and my wife and I kept looking at each other to wonder if we were just driving into the middle of nowhere. We eventually arrived and I would like readers to know that the last 2-3 kilometers (1-2 miles),I would highly recommend a 4 wheel drive. That road was pretty bumpy and had some large rocks that I don’t think a regular car would fair well on.
So upon arriving at the random house on the hill that was marked as the station for entering this specific area of the park, we were greeted by a ranger who checked us in and took some info, I am sure just so they know who is left out in the jungle by the time the park closes. As a foreigner, we each had to pay $15 USD for entry. Glad they accepted dollars as I don’t think I have enough colones on me.
He then gave us a map of the route, told us it was about 3 KM to the hot springs and that a one way walk was about an hour. Halfway there was a small stream that made a medium waterfall, but I can’t say more than 4 m high. Nice, calming and beautiful but nothing like some of the others around the country. Once we arrived at the hot springs themselves, we met a few others who must have been on the trail in front of us, some from America, some from Belgium. We then changed around the corner of the tree and got into the sulfur smelling water. I have been to other hot springs that have smelt worse so don’t be turned off. Once you put those aching muscles into those mineral rich warm waters, sit back and relax in the sun.
Be Prepared!! We ran into a few people while there, but I think at times you could expect to be by yourself in the middle of the jungle. And I have to say I read a lot about people going early in the day to avoid the afternoon heat, but we went midday and the trail is so canopied by the jungle vegetation overhead that even though it was around 28 C (82 F), the shade made the walk easily bearable.
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our day. The wonderful waters of the volcano were a welcome treat to our bodies and muscles. If you like something that is on the road a little less traveled and don’t mind being a bit adventurous, we would gladly say it is worth the light day trip.