Location:

The Miravalles-Tenorio Protected Area is north of the towns of Corobici and Bagaces. This area is located about 210 kilometers from San Jose City, in the Province of Guanacaste.

How to get there:

From San Jose take Route 27 towards Puntarenas, but before arriving in Puntarenas take a right turn in Barranca onto the Interamericana Highway. Take the highway to Corobici which is about 195 kilometers distant. Near Corobici is the road to Bijagua, which is the closest town to Tenorio Volcano and Miravalles Volcano.

From Liberia take the Interamericana Highway going towards San Jose. After traveling only 35 kilometers there is a left turn in Corobici to go to Bijagua and to the volcanoes.

From La Fortuna-Arenal area it is best is to drive to El Tanque which is eight kilometers from La Fortuna. Turn left in this town to take Route 4 towards Monterey and Guatuso. It is about 40 kilometers to San Rafael de Guatuso, then 12 kilometers to Katira where there is a left turn to go to El Pilon. The entrance to Tenorio National Park is in El Pilon, and it is a drive of eight more kilometers to the Miravalles Forest Reserve.

Closest Airport:

The closest airport to this protected area is only 34 kilometers away at Liberia. The International Airport, Daniel Oduber, has both local and international flights. This airport is 236 kilometers from San Jose.

What to find in the area:

In Bijagua, the closest town to the entrance of the parks, there are restaurants, restrooms, information, small hotels and cabins, and some tourist attractions like waterfalls, gardens, and hanging bridges.

In the ranger stations of the parks there are only restrooms, information about the trails, and of course rangers willing to help visitors. 

Description of Miravalles-Tenorio Protected Area:

Miravalles-Tenorio Protected Area is actually the combination of two protected zones divided by Route 6. The beautiful Tenorio Volcano National Park is on the east, with its massive peak and the Rio Celeste flowing through it. The Miravalles Volcano with its Forest Reserve is to the west.

Miravalles Volcano Area:

This protected area has 10,850 hectares and was established in 1976 with the name Miravalles Forest Reserve. This reserve protects rivers and tributaries that flow across the Pacific Lowland and into the Northern Lowland of Costa Rica. The reserve protects different ecosystems and habitats, from tropical rainforest in the lower parts of the mountain to cloud forest in higher elevations.

Miravalles’ eastern and northern flanks are green and fully covered with vegetation. The western side is covered with low vegetation such as bushes.  The southern side has canyons and lava trails. This mountain forms a barrier for the abundant clouds coming from the Caribbean side, which makes the north side pretty humid in comparison to the southern side which has drier characteristics. 

The Miravalles Volcano has an altitude of 2026 meters above sea level, and is a semi-cone shaped volcano. The view is amazing from the top. A large part of the savannas of Guanacaste, the Valley of Tempisque River, and the Gulf of Nicoya can be seen in all their majesty. 

The Institute of Costa Rica Electricity (ICE) has a geothermal energy project in the area, which currently generates over 40 percent of the country’s electrical power. The area also has important archaeological history, with a total of 33 archaeological sites.

Trails in Miravalles Forest Reserve:

In the Miravalles Forest Reserve there are no established trails, but some local operators take people to the top of the mountain. It is about a nine-hour trip, most do half on horseback and half hiking. In addition to the hike, the wildlife observation and bird watching are great.

What to find in the area:

The reserve does not have much in terms of man-made structures, but all necessary tourist facilities can be found in the nearby town of Bijagua.

Tenorio National Park:

Tenorio National Park was established as it exists today in 1995 and has an area of 12,000 hectares. The highest peak in the national park is the Tenorio Volcano with an altitude of 1923 meters above sea level. For the most part, the mountain is covered with mature forest which provides a habitat for a great variety of birds and animals. The dense forest protects many springs and rivers that start on this volcano. The ecological, hydrological, and geological value of this park makes it not only naturally beautiful, but also very important to the country. 

One special characteristic of Tenorio National Park is Rio Celeste, which is a light-blue colored river located in the national park. The intense color of the water apparently comes from a chemical reaction from sulfur and calcium carbonate mixing in a specific part of the river called “Los Teñideros” meaning “the dyers”. Since this river is so beautiful most of the trails in the protected area are around it. 

Indigenous legends teach that when God was giving color to the sky, a bit of this color dropped in the river and made it like this. The river is surrounded by a stunning rain forest, and in the higher areas of the national park there are areas of cloud forest.

Rio Celeste Trail:

Most people take this as a one-way trail, starting and ending at El Pilon, but it can be traveled as a loop. It is a moderate to difficult trail, with ups and downs along the way, as well as thin bridges. Going out and back on the same path is a four kilometer trip; the loop option is eight kilometers. Both offer the chance to see the main attractions including:

Hot Springs: a small pool of thermal water coming out of the ground and mixing immediately with the cool water of the river. This is the only place on the trail where visitors are permitted to get into the water.

The Blue Lagoon: a beautiful turquoise-colored lagoon in the middle of the forest, a seemingly magical landscape.

Los Teñideros: one of the most impressive locations in the park. This is where, like magic, the water becomes turquoise.

Rio Celeste Waterfall: one of the most beautiful falls in the country. Here the water falls in to a nice- sized blue water pool.

 Bird watching in the Miravalles-Tenorio area:  

This a great birding area to see some specialties, that are endemic or mach harder to see elsewhere. Some of the feature species of birds among a huge variety of birds are:

  • Great Timamou (Tinamus major)
  • Little Tinamou (Crypturellus soui)
  • Great Currasow (Crax rubra)
  • Black-breasted Wood-Quail (Odontophorus leucolaemus)
  • Rufous-vented Groud-Cuchoo (Neomorphus geoffroyi)
  • White-tipped Sicklebill (Eutoxeres aquila)
  • Lattice-tail Trogon (Trogon clathratus)
  • Keel-billed Motmot (Electron carinatum)
  • Tody Motmot (Hylomanes momotula)
  • Slaty-throated Foliage-gleaner (Anabacerthia variegaticeps)
  • Gray-throated Leaftosser (Sclerurus albigularis)
  • Dull-mantled Antbird (Myrmeciza laemosticta)
  • Black-headed Antthrush (Formicarius nigricapillus)
  • Rufous-browed Tyrannulet (Phylloscartes supersiliaris)
  • Sepia-capped Flycatcher (Leptopogon amaurocephalus)
  • Lovely Cotinga (Cotinga amabilis)
  • White-ruffed Manakin (Corapipo altera)
  • Sharpbill (Oxyruncus cristatus)
  • Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush (Catharus mexicanus)
  • Black-and-yellow Tanager (Chrysothlypis chrysomelas)
  • Rufous-winged Tanager (Tangara lavinia)
  • Black-faced Grosbeak (Caryothraustes poliogaster)
  • Tawny-capped Euphonia (Euphonia anneae)

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