Rio Celeste

Río Celeste is a unique hydrological phenomenon in Central America. Visited by many who are appealed by their blue to white-blue colored waters.

The whole package

Rio Celeste is surely a trip that deserves the time. It includes a visit to the Volcan Tenorio National Park, an incredible waterfall, nice trails for bird watching, and river down you can find some amazing ponds if you want to dip.

How to get to the National Park Volcan Tenorio

Set your GPS for Upala, preferably using route 4. 50 kilometers before Upala there is a place called Katira, where you have to take to the west using road Katira. Once over that road set your GPS to take you to Estacion El Pilon, which is the entrance to the park.

Part of the road is not in good condition, dirty roads and some bridges with no guardrails await you, nothing our Campervans or 4×4 and some patience can manage.

Once you reach the station, you’ll be asked 15$ per person at the entrance. Please, understand that Costa Ricans pay taxes for the concept of maintaining their national parks running, so they are charged less.

The station has parking, just be sure the campervan is shut tight and do not leave anything expensive to the sight. Hiking boots are highly recommendable. Sports shoes will do the job for those not having the boots.

Rio Celeste Waterfall, Costa Rica
Watching the waterfall in person is one of those things you’ll never forget.

Once inside the park

There is a single trail from the entrance. After 2 kilometers the trail will split in two. The left trail will take you to the waterfall while the right one will take you up to the mountain.
The stairs to the waterfall are quite a challenge while the road to the mountain can be covered in mud in some parts.
Both are worth it, the waterfall is amazing to watch, while the road to the mountain will take you where the river turns blue.

The mountain trail also takes you to the river bed, be warned that a strong sulfur smell will come from the river. Dipping in the river is not recommended for obvious reasons. This trail will offer also a beautiful view of the Tenorio Volcano. This is the best you can get since the Volcano is deep inside the national park and there are no trails to it.

Rio Celeste, Costa Rica.
Only the nature can achieve that intense blue color.

Outside of the park, river down you can find some ponds if you want to dip for a while, ask locals for the best ponds. The concentration of sulfur at that part of the river is low enough to be safe. Also, the water will be warm, thanks to Tenorio Volcano.

There are plenty of camping places and restaurants, so you can rest and eat well near the park, before continuing your travel. Rio Celeste is definitely one of the most exotic places you can visit in Costa Rica and maybe even in the world.

Difficulty

Rio Celeste can prove to be very difficult. If you feel you are not in good physical condition, we recommend you to stay away or just take the trail to the waterfall, take a rest, then come back to the entrance.
Once you reach “El Teñidero” which is the place where the river turns blue, the mountain trail continues alongside the other side of the river. Don’t go! Going too far then coming back could be very exhausting.
Some people dare to cross the river at the level of the waterfall but this is very dangerous, if the park staff caught you in the act, you could receive a deserved scold for putting your life at risk.
The ponds river down are refreshing but do not dip your head, some bacterias love to live in these hot waters. As you do not dip your head or get into the pond with open wounds you’ll be alright.

Volcan Tenorio, Costa Rica.
An amazing view of the Tenorio Volcano and the rain forest.

More tips

We recommend looking for a camping place after finishing your visit to the park. The effort put on the visit could be exhausting enough so your driving could be affected by it. The zone is beautiful and the weather is not hot at all, so you can spend a cozy night in your tent or inside the campervan.
There are good fish restaurants around, mostly because the zone is known for fish farming Tilapia, a delicious fish used in many recipes.