Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cataratas Viento Fresco

Leaves wet with mist

  The mist from the rainforest collects on the leaves of the enormous trees above my head. The weight of the rills of water bends the leaves down so that the water runs from leaf to leaf down the canopy to the forest floor. Everything is saturated...including me. As I hike down the seemingly unending trail of moss covered steps to the valley below, I marvel at the beauty of the forest around me. Giant tree ferns sway in the breeze, while the thousands of bromiliads that clothe the trees add splashes of pink and red to the myriad shades of green. Rays of golden sunlight filter down through the canopy to illuminate the tiny water drops that hang from the tips of every leaf and branch. They shimmer and sparkle as the sunbeams touch them. It is so quiet I can hear the beat of my heart in my ears. The only other sound I hear is the distant pounding sound of the waterfalls somewhere below. I feel very small.

  This place is known as Cataratas Viento Fresco, which translates to English as the Fresh Wind Waterfalls. It is located a 21 kilometers from Tilaran, Guanacaste, Costa Rica. It is not just one waterfall, but a succession of five waterfalls, ranging in size from 66 feet to 283 feet. Years after purchasing a large acreage, the land owner stumbled across the series of falls by accident while out exploring his property by horse. Over time the land has been developed so that the falls can be enjoyed. This entailed cutting a swath through the rainforest and carrying countless bags of cement down handhewn steps to provide a safe walkway for guests to enjoy the awesome sights below. Due to its remote location and lack of good road access for large tour buses, it remains a quiet, local attraction. I am sorry for the lack of income for one who has done so much to make this place accessible to the public, but not having large crowds of people thundering down the valley, disrupting the peace and possibly damaging the delicate balance of nature there, may be a blessing in disguise.

Rio Serana first of five waterfalls 

  Much like the leaves in the forest collect water and drop it from one layer of the forest to the next, each waterfall adds its contents to the next via network of fast running rivers. The waterfalls vary in size and grandeur as they descend down the valley. The Rio Serena waterfall is the first one in line.Water from the river tips over the edge of the landfall through a small gap in the rocks. It falls 102 feet to the pool below before wending its way to the next fall some distance downstream. Next is Hidden Falls. Water runs over the rocks and then descends 66 feet to a pool below, bouncing and tumbling between and over the rocks before being swallowed by the river and carried on to the next fall. There are caves on either side of the falls that would allow for a great view of the back side of the waterfall if there were a safe way to get to them. But since it isn't recommended to try to reach them due to the danger of being forced to the bottom by the power of the water coming over the falls, the view from the caves must be left to the imagination.

Hidden Falls

  I am afraid that on this particular trip my journey must end at the second of the five falls. The way becomes steeper from here and due to a spill the day before, my knee will not tolerate any more of an incline. I will have to enjoy the last three falls vicariously by the photos and stories from hiking group we are hosting. I don't really mind though since my slower pace down the stairs meant I was left alone to make my descent. This allowed me the opportunity to enjoy the solitude of the forest and absorb the essence of the place. It was priceless.
  Rainbow falls, Slide falls and Rock Falls are hidden from my view as I turn to climb back up the multitude of stairs between Hidden Falls and the mirada (overlook) at the top near the parking lot. From the mirada I can see in the distance, Slide Falls (312 ft). It looks like a long white ribbon caught among the trees at the base of the valley. Quite a view even from so far away.

Slide Fall as viewed from the lookout

Today was our first full day on the tour with our guests. I believe that Cataratas Viento Fresco was a great way for the group to be introduce to Costa Rica... Rain forest mist, five waterfalls, plenty of oxygen intake while descending and climbing the hundreds of steps to the bottom and back up, a picnic lunch and a nice nap in the late afternoon. In the evening we will venture out to have dinner in one of our favorite Tilaran restaurants, Las Brisas.

  I hope that this post find you all well, enjoying life and getting great mail! I will write again as soon as I get a moment... being a tour guide means there are a lot of demands on my time, but I am loving every minute of it!
                                                                 From Costa Rica, Pura Vida!!  Elle

*This event actually occurred on 5 December, but time being in short supply and limited internet access meant I had to wait until today to post.


  1. So beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

  2. next best thing to being there. can't wait till your next post. thanks angie! oh, and no more falling down! :) xo

  3. Wow ,Very Beautiful place:) Great pictures

  4. Great story and photos. Thanks for sharing.
    Hope your trip is just wonderful. Hope we get to see you when you have time.
    Shalom and safe travels!

  5. I'm jealous! One of my favorite things to do...hiking in the mountains and coming upon waterfalls!! Sorry to read about your "spill," but it sounds like it wasn't severe enough to keep you from enjoying the sights and solitude. Soak in every moment there and enjoy the fact you are missing the cold temps like I'm having now in Virginia :> ~~Linda

  6. Elle, lovely post and great photos. Thanks for letting us share your holiday away. Hester

  7. Oooh, Elle! Wonderful descriptive prose that matches the photos is great pleasure. Thanks for taking the time to share. Does the humidity make you skin want to touch itself? That's one of the good things about living here. The humidity is good for the skin. :)

    Always look forward to your posts.