Rincon de la Vieja, Costa Rica
Location: 10.2N, 85.5W
Elevation: 6,285 feet (1,916 m)
Text and Photos by Doug Simms (Page 2 of 2)
Left Photo: The crater of this little volcano has a diameter of only 3 meters, and
the minivolcano stands only about 2 meters above the ground. Two bursting
bubbles can be seen in the lower left of the photo. Right Photo: These sulfur springs can be found in many areas of the land surrounding the volcano.
Pools of hot mud are another feature of the landscape surrounding the volcano.
Climbing the Volcano
Climbing the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano is not for the casual hiker. Anybody
in reasonably good shape can do the climb, but there are a few hazards, difficulties,
and inconveniences to be aware of. The following list describes the climbing
- Length: The trail from the ranger station at the Las Pailas
park entrance is listed as 8 kilometers in length.
- Steepness: The first six kilometers of trail climbs at a
usually gentle slope through two different kinds of forest. It is tiring,
but can be handled easily simply by resting when necessary. During my rest
stops I was entertained by numerous sightings of birds, squirrels, and coatimundis.
The last two kilometers of trail include long sections that climb at a fifty-degree
slope. A couple of spots helpfully had ropes in place.
- Temperature: The rangers warn that it can get foggy and windy
at the exposed upper portions of the trail. My short pants were adequate for
the day I was there, but I carried a sweater, long pants and a rain jacket
just in case.
- Visibility: If it is foggy on the summit, which happens often,
you can easily get lost, as once you climb higher than the tree line the trail
is just a faint line among the scattered rocks, ash, and gravel. If it is foggy,
you may as well not make the climb, as you won't be able to see anything,
- Falling In: This can happen, so one must exercise caution.
There are no guards to stop you from getting too close; only a sign in Spanish.
When you are standing on the lip of the volcano, it is tempting to walk closer
to the edge in order to get a better picture. You must keep in mind that you
are on a sloping hillside made up of gravel and ash, and it would be easy
to get caught up in a miniature landslide, resulting in a drop of about two
hundred meters into a lake of boiling acid. Not worth it!