Rincón de la Vieja National Park was created in 1973 to protect the flora and fauna and the hydrographic basins that surround the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano. It has an extension of 14.083 hectares of semi deciduous humid forest, there are rocky areas void of tree coverage ,altitudes ranging from 650 meters to 1.916 meters, on the Carribean slopes and the Pacific Volcanic Cordillera of Guanacaste. The climate in the National Park is so varied that in short stretches there are severe dry areas, for a period of 4 or 5 months and in others, close to the peaks or on the Carribean slope, the rain never stops, allowing the area to have a dense coverage of trees and epiphytes. In the western foothills its rains from 2.500 to 3.000 mm, from May to November, and in the West in ranges from 3.000 to 4.000 mm.
The climate in the highlands and those in between is fresh, sometimes cold and affected by the strong winds from the Carribean, which carries the large majority of the rain that falls in this area. The temperature fluctuates from 24°C in the low lands to 14,9°C at the peaks of the volcanoes. The variation in altitude and climate plays an important role in the distribution of flora and fauna. There are three types of vegetation: that of the low lands with an altitude of 650 meters to 1200 meters, characterized by the presence of laurel, the olive, the Guanacaste, the indio desnudo and the bitter cedar; the intermediate, 1.200 meters to 1.400 meters above sea level, where you can see papayillo trees, cuajada trees, yos trees and above all copey trees. This is a species of tree that sometimes forms forests that are twisted and tangled because of the strong winds; and the highest, 1.400 meters to the top, where the forests are short and the trees appear to be full of cut off branches and covered in moss and epiphytes. In the park, 257 bird species have been recorded, including the quetzal, the Jilguero, the large peacock, the Golden Oriele from Montezuma, the tucancillo or the green Curré, the red widow, the golden humming bird, the spectacled owl, the white fronted parrot, the bare throated bell bird, and the Guaco.
Other mammals that shelter in this area are: the puma, the jaguar, the ocelot, congo monkeys, the colored and white faced monkey; the manigordo, the tayra, the kinkajou, the two toed sloth, the pisote and the ant eater. In the Copey forests there are numerous felines, danta, gonoglonas and black peacocks. The Rincón de la Vieja national park also protects an extensive network of drains that feed into the Nicoya Basin and the flooded plains of the Nicaragua Lake. In this network, there are Pacific River courses that exhibit high levels of water in September and October, while those of the Carribean have high water levels in July and August. The Rincón de la Vieja volcano has an altitude of 1.895 meters above sea level.
Presenting an attractive crater that releases water vapor and magma gases. Its last eruptions where ash, and this happened in 1966, 1967, 1983 and 1991. This steep sloped volcano has the same origins as the Orosí, Cacao, Miravalles and Tenorio- at the end of Pliocene Period, approximately a million years ago. The volcano is made up of nine eruptive sources, where the most outstanding is that of Santa María, (1.916 meters) and Von Seebach (1.985 meters). In the Santa María the crater is occupied by a lake of 2.5 hectares surrounded by a very humid forest. From here, on a clear day, you can see the Nicaragua Lake, the Santa Elena Golf and Culebra Bay. It is presumed that because Santa María is close to Rincón de La Vieja, it is the only one that is active, and could erupt at any time. The Von Seebach is an eroded crater; covered in pumice stone and moss. Between this source, the Rincón de la Vieja and the Santa Maria, there is a depression, presumably another eroded crater which has a cold lagoon. It is called Los Jilgueros lagoon, and has an extension of 6.5 hectares, it is surrounded by exuberant evergreen vegetation. This is an area that is often visited by the jilgueros, quetzales and tapirs. In the western sector they have begun a colony near the rocky lands, where the vegetation was taken away because of the acid clouds released by the volcano. In the west between 700 meters and 900 meters above sea level, along a fault, there is hot steaming vapor in Hornillas and Las Pailas, and areas of hot geysers within the park. The peaks of San Roque and Cañas Dulces, neighbor the volcano and are, dacite domes that do not release magma because they have temporarily solidified.
Las Hornillas is an area where, through holes and cracks, water vapor is expulsed as well as sulphur dioxide, hydrogen dioxide and other gases. Las Pailas is an area with geysers and small bubbling mud volcanoes, linked to the hot water reservoir, with invisible layers of mud. It has an extension of approximately 50 hectares. Another attraction of this mountain is the waterfalls of the Agria Ravine; four waterfalls in total with drops of 60 to 70 meters, located on rocky land devastated by volcanic activity. Footpaths that lead to places of interest begin at the administration office; the hot springs are: 3 Km away; Las Pailas: 6 Km away; Las Hornillas: 9 Km away; Volcán Santa Maria: 12 Km away; and the viewpoint: 1 Km.
How to arrive and leave
Las Pailas Ranger Outpost is 25 Km from Liberia. Take the Interamerican 5 Km to the north, heading towards Guadalupe, you will then be on a non tarmac road with potholes that will take you to a village called Curubandé some 12 Km away, continue for a further 8 Km, until you reach the park entrance.
The ACG offices are located in the Santa Rosa National Park Ph + (506) 2666-5051, Ph + (506) 2666-5020, where you can ask for information. Also in Las Pailas Ph + (506) 2666-8139, the most visited forest post, located in one of the two entrances to the park. Entry costs 6 US$; there is a camp site that costs 2 US$ per person. The area makes up part of the Guanacaste Conservation Area (ACG) that also includes the Santa Rosa and Guanacaste National Park and other protected areas.
How to arrive and leave
To be able to access the northeastern sector of the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano, you will need to take the route that goes to the Nicaraguan border, from the city of Liberia, turnoff 23 Km along the north Interamerican where you will find the village of Potrerillos. This turnoff is 100 meters before the Río Tempisquito Bridge. Once you have turned off you will be able to see a large variety of tourist attractions that the area offers such as exuberant vegetation, a very different climate compared to the other areas of Guanacaste, as well as an exquisite and panoramic view of the peaks of Cacao and Rincón de la Vieja Volcano. Once you have taken the route from the village of Potrerillos you can drive along looking at the different communities along the way, such as the village of Quebrada Grande which is 5 Km from the Interamerican highway, the zone is well signposted, and also close to this community you will find Las Lilas which makes up part of the Association of the Chamber of Tourism of the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano.