So here's what happened between us and this volcano: we had an afternoon flight back to New York from Liberia, CR, on JetBlue's new direct route. What could we do with that whole empty morning before heading to the airport? Hot springs? Horseback riding? Canyoneering? Ziplining? Milking cows? But we had already done all this! That left facing the volcano on foot.
Our guide grew up in the shadow of the volcano, walking the hiking routes before they were hardly as trod as they are now, and they're still pretty wild. Though our city slicker shoes slipped in the mud and we tripped over everything from the tangled roots of "strangling trees" to volcanic boulders crossing trickling streams, he was patient and quick to offer a stabilizing hand to grasp. Though it's a breathtaking hike through several levels of the forest, it is definitely for an active person who can keep up a good hiking pace.
How to hike Rincón de la Vieja National Park: There's all sorts of hike lengths available, even overnight horse treks. Take the Panamerican Highway to Rincón de la Vieja National Park, and continue down a bumpy road to the Hacienda Guachipelin, an eco-resort and working Hacienda with its own Adventure Tours depot. Prices depend on hike length and group size, but start at $25 per person.
The volcano, seen from the distance of Hacienda Guachipelin
Disclosure: We zipped down to Costa Rica as guests of JetBlue and the Costa Rica Tourism Board, but rest assured that all opinions and all photos are completely our own.
[Photos: Cynthia Drescher for Jaunted]