Las Primeras Catarata – The First Waterfall

The view from the top of the waterfall

Once we got back from the ranch I had Pili drop me off at the bus station (Parada Municipal de Liberia) so I could take a bus to Llanos de Cortes and make my way to see my first Costa Rican waterfalls. You can take any bus going in the direction of San Jose, I wanted to be sure so asked a local if the bus was going to Llanos de Cortes before getting on. Once you’re on the bus tell the driver you are going to Llanos de Cortes and ask them to let you know when to get off; when you’re about 25-30 minutes in remind the driver of your stop.

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If you walk straight in the direction of traffic once you get off the bus you’ll bump into a sign illustrating the path to the waterfall. The trail is simple to follow but takes about 20-30 minutes on foot, it started raining and there was little coverage on the road so I got slightly (like if thats possible) soaked. The worst part was I forgot to wear bug repellent and so it was the first day the mosquitos had a great amount of fun with my skin.

The trail

The view from the top of the waterfall

After arriving to where the waterfall you might see a gate that makes it appear closed, however, as I was looking at it from a distance a Costa Rican explained to me how to walk over and see it, he had a fanny pack and extra strength rope so I could tell he was some kind of guide – just not official. I thanked him and of course he offered to come with me, at first I said no but he insisted and so I accepted with no regrets as he offered to be my personal photographer. We walked to the top of the waterfall, then through a river (where I quickly learned the trail was better walked bear foot).

Walking through the river, trudging through the mud

Then to a “hot” spring where I stayed for a bit and the “guide” convinced me to swim around a little (as a beginner and knowing I couldn’t touch the floor that was a lot for me but glad I did it) – I say “hot” because it was really at most lukewarm but compared to the river and waterfall quite warm- and then finally we reached the bottom of the large waterfall where I also swam around for a bit. I definitely recommending walking on the rocks behind the waterfall and swimming in that area (if I had a waterproof camera I would’ve loved to capture those moments).

After spending quite a bit of time in the water I started heading out and the guide offered to drive me down on his motor bike, at first I was hesitant but felt safe so I went for it – when traveling alone you really learn the importance of feeling someone’s vibe and trusting it. He drove me down, let me take some pictures on it and I wish I could tell you all his name but I have a terrible memory with those and it was rather unique so instead you’ll see a picture here! He insisted I didn’t have to give him money, especially as I had given him 2 of my Polaroid shots which he knew were kind of expensive but of course I decided to anyways. I gave him $20 because guided tours always cost $60+ and not only did he walk me through, he also took pictures, gave me a ride down and let me experience yet another piece of Costa Rican culture.

So first, make sure to go to Llanos de Cortes! I can confidentially say they were the best waterfalls I saw in CR and second if you go make sure to look for my awesome guide.

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