The Pailas Sector in the Rincón de la Vieja National Park, allows the visitor to observe secondary volcanic activity such as fumaroles, boiling water lagoons and mud pans. In addition to different ecosystems and impressive landscapes, waterfalls, areas of regenerating grasslands, and primary forests.
This site has a network of trails that range from those that are 100% natural, to others that are slightly modified and sections adapted to allow accessibility for people with special mobility needs. All trails offer very good chances of spotting birds, mammals, and reptiles.
History and Development
Rincón de la Vieja, was created as a National Park by Law No. 5398 of October 23, 1973. Its extension is 14,300 hectares. It is divided into two tourist visitation sectors: Las Pailas and Santa María. Both sectors have interesting attractions due to the variety of their ecosystems and in which the volcanic manifestations stand out.
The Rincón de la Vieja National Park protects very important hydrographic basins, since the volcanic massif is part of the watershed, between the Caribbean and the Pacific, in the northwest area of the country; and 32 rivers are born here, among them the Colorado, Blanco and Ahogados. At the same time, the largest existing population in the wild of the guaria morada, (Guarianthe skinneri), the national flower of our country, is protected. The importance of protecting the characteristic volcanic activity of the area and its geological attractions is also added.
There is a network of trails that will take you to many attractive sites in the sector: Las Pailas Circular Trail: It is the most accessible, it has a distance of 3 km, in a circular route, with an estimated duration of 2 hours. The main attraction of the trail is the observation of volcanic manifestations (fumaroles, mud pans, water pans, fumarolic lagoon, volcano, among others), passing through wooded areas, waterfalls, ravines and open areas where you can see the transition of the dry forest to humid forest. Some of the volcanic manifestations can reach temperatures between 78 °C to 106 °C, so the railings and safety regulations must be respected.
The trail has a section that is accessible for wheelchairs and people with reduced mobility. In general, the trail is suitable for people of all ages to do it. On the trail it is very likely to see some mammals and birds. Also here you reach the path that leads to the Santa María Sector and its hot springs for a 7 km linear route.
Trail of the Falls
It is linear, with a medium to high difficulty. The La Cangreja waterfall is 5 km away (10 km in total round trip) and the Escondida waterfall is 4.3 km (8.6 km in total round trip). The estimated round trip time is between 4-5 hours a waterfall. To go to both waterfalls, the beginning of the trail is the same, you walk about 2km under shade in the forest, then there is an intersection to go to each waterfall. To go to the La Cangreja Waterfall there are open sections through pastures where the temperature can be higher; During the tour you will have to go up and down some slopes. The trail to the Hidden Waterfall is of high difficulty due to the ascent that must be made, most of the route is uphill, in open terrain without shade and very windy in the summer months. It is NOT possible to swim in any of the falls.
Closed hiking shoes, enough drinking water, sunscreen and a hat or cap is recommended. During the rainy season jacket or cape.
The entrance to this trail is possible from 8:00 am to 12:00 noon in the dry season (December-April) and during the rainy season (May-November) access may be regulated by the administration of the sector in case of heavy rains.
Cráter Activo Trail
For several years the active crater has had a series of phreatic eruptions and regular gas emanation, with variable activity therefore, this trail remains closed until the activity subsides and it is considered safe to access this attraction.
Regulations for visitors
- Deposit all trash and recyclable waste in the respective trash can.
- The entry of pets is not allowed according to the law.
- Keep your behavior and language appropriate and respectful.
- Do not smoke inside the protected area as cigarette butts or lit matches can cause forest fires.
- It is illegal to take plants, parts of plants, rocks, seeds or animals from the conservation area.
The atmospheric conditions that manifest themselves in this place and mainly around the active crater, are very cloudy and strong winds, because it is a mountain pass.
The dry season is from December to April, while the rainy season is from May to November, usually causing sunny mornings and rainy afternoons, which means that during these months it is recommended to do the tours in the morning hours, to take advantage of the best weather.
- Visitors Center.
- There is drinking water and sanitary services.
- Presence of Park Rangers on site
- Walking trails
- There is no public phone.
- In this Sector there is no Camping Area.
The Las Pailas Sector is located approximately 25 km from the town of Liberia. To get to this site, you must follow the north inter-American highway, from Liberia towards Nicaragua (5 km) to the community of Guadalupe. Then turn east, on the road to the community of Curubandé, to continue, for 20 km on a paved road almost entirely. In this last section before reaching the Pailas Sector, you must travel through a private farm, which charges a right of way that has a cost of 800 colones per person, this charge is not part of the entrance to the National Park.
For more information visit:: https://www.acguanacaste.ac.cr/turismo/sector-pailas#contenido