Thursday, June 4, 2009

Rio Celeste- the OPTIONS

Rio Celeste located in the Tenorio National Park has been generating a LOT of emails lately. Actually with good reason as we HIGHLY recommend visiting Rio Celeste if you have the chance. Most questions seem to be centered around visiting Rio Celeste WITHOUT a guide or GUIDED tour, which run from La Fortuna for around $65./ person (don't quote me on the exact price, it fluctuates- depending). Here's more INFO on Rio Celeste: Tenorio National Park/Rio Celeste. I'm not saying NOT to take a paid tour from La Fortuna as many people are much more comfortable with guides, but for you adventuresome types and backpackers- YOU have some options.

First, if you have a rental car, you should drive to Rio Celeste yourself (directions below). It's only about 1 hour and 15 minutes from La Fortuna- give or take. If during the rainy season, you may need a 4-wheel drive, there's a couple of steep inclines when you get close to the park, but I gotta say, we did it in a 2-wheel drive, but you gotta 'make a run' and don't stop once you begin the incline(s) (not recommended for people uncomfortable behind the wheel).

If you don't have a rental and want to do it on the cheap, it can be done. Personally, I would try to gather a few like-minded people who want to visit Rio Celeste and then negotiate a price for a taxi from La Fortuna, there and BACK. Also, I would even approach the 'piratas' or pirate taxi's located on the main street in front of the park. I know it's not politically correct to say so, but I've never had a problem and you can often get a decent deal.... or not. (I guess I need to say, if you use a pirate taxi, you do so at your own Risk). I wish I could give you numbers, but they change too often... I would think $60. would be fair, but then again, the taxi people will assume you don't know shit and obviously tell you some outrageous number, but at least you can 'negotiate' from there and you'll have a ballpark of what to expect with the NEXT guy you talk too.

Want a cheaper, but more adventuresome way?
A bus leaves out of El Tanque (the next small town over from La Fortuna- maybe 5 minutes in a car driving on the main street AWAY from the volcano) for Penas Blancas, which is the border crossing from Costa Rica into Nicaragua (It costs about $6.00 and takes 5 hours if you're interested). This bus departs EVERYDAY at about 7:00am. It returns from Penas Blancas at 2:00 returning to El Tanque at about 7:00pm. The reason this is important is because the turn-off to Rio Celeste is on the way between Guatuso and Upala. You could hitch a ride to Guatuso then negotiate a taxi the rest of the way, which isn't too far. Then meet the returning bus from Penas Blancas in either Upala, Guatuso or just on the road between the 2 (believe me the bus STOPS a LOT). You may need to know a little Spanish just in case, but this is doable.

1. Head to El Tanque- 5 minutes away driving on the main street of La Fortuna and AWAY from the volcano. The cheap way to El Tanque (without a rental car) is to basically hitch, or catch a ride, often locals that just happen to be going that way will only charge a dollar or so, but if that frightens you, then obviously take a cab to El Tanque.

2. Take a left in the middle of El Tanque across from the the super market and hardware store (this is easy as there is NO other left to take, it's the only intersection in El Tanque).

3. A few miles and you'll see the sign for Upala or Guatuso,,doesn't matter, follow that. Then go to Guatuso. In Guatuso you might have to ask directions to Rio Celeste (or Upala), the town's small but there's no clearly marked directions. The turn off (left) to Rio Celeste (or Rio Celeste Lodge) isn't far away after Guatuso, so if you make it to Upala, you went TOO far. Follow the signs to Rio Celeste Lodge, that's the starting point. It cost $10. to enter the park.

It's worth the EFFORT however you get there.

Hey Everyone, we got TONS of Costa Rica Travel Information in our Travel Guide at Travel Costa Rica NOW and don't FORGET all our Costa Rica Travel Tip Videos, completely ORGANIZED so you can EASILY find what you're LOOKING for. ENjOY!