Fun at the Waterfall
Thursday, April 15th, 2010
Here is the pool at the bottom of the main falls. It used to be deep – over your head. Recent rains have filled the bottom with sand and today it’s so shallow you can walk in and out of the falls. In time, the sand will run off. Nature is constantly changing. (Float your cursor over each photo for its caption.)
Costa Rica waterfalls are enchanting. On my first visit to Costa Rica three years ago, a friend took me to the waterfall in Volio. Upon my return I was compelled to find it again. Since then I have been bringing friends and guiding clients there as often as I can. And sometimes I go alone, for a day of quiet serenity in nature. The Caribbean jungle is exotic and magical. The water is medicinal. And the falls create an exciting tropical adventure on every visit.
Volio is a countryside village just outside of Bri Bri, a small town named for the local Indigenous who live throughout the area. You often see the Bri Bri on the road to the falls, heading to their mountain homes from town.
It’s a pretty, half hour drive, from my place in Puerto Viejo, up to the path where you hike in. You cross the river several times along the way up the dirt road.
This photo was taken after some heavy rain. You can see the erosion and the milky color of the water – usually it looks clear to the bottom.
After a fifteen minute walk, you leave the dirt road and go down on to a jungle trail, crossing the stream in a few more places. The muddy path and the mossy rocks in the stream can be precarious. I often step aside for the local kids who were born and raised in the jungle. They scurry like squirrels, on ahead. I take my time and be sure to have a good footing before I proceed.
This is the last place you cross before the falls. I call it the Waterslide Falls. You’ll see why.
Now the course narrows a bit, but the path is always clear to see. You’ll find steps and hand rails here and there, installed by Costa Rica guides for the convenience of their customers. But this is, by no means, a developed and regulated park like you have in North America. The most risky points have no guard rails or warning signs. And of course there are no advisories against snakes and bullet ants. You just have to be careful. You are in the wilderness.
I like that. There are risks everywhere, even crossing the street. We simply choose the ones we are willing to take and avoid those that seem unwise. In Montana there are grizzly bears. I used to live near Glacier National Park where there are a million warnings and regulations to help keep people safe, yet almost every summer you hear of a mauling in the park. And although you can admire from afar, its gorgeous waterfalls, you can’t just go jump in. You might get hurt. You might sue the park. We all know how that goes. Here in Costa Rica, you take the risk and responsibility but in exchange, you enjoy the great fun of freedom!
I’ve been to these falls many times and each time they are different. Rocks roll, rains increase and logs divert the flow and in dry times the cascades diminish. Below are several examples. These are all the same falls, just different camera angles.
Here is what it’s like, having fun in the waterfalls!
We’ve gone as far as the Costa Rica tour companies take you. If you come with me, you might just be more adventurous and want to climb higher. The climb to the top of the main falls is short and simple, if you go slow and careful, like I do. Ill show you just where to step and how to hold on.
These are the Waterslide Falls. The kids were daring enough to try them first, but adults can be kids, too.
We finish off our day with a relaxing soak in the medicinal pools and natural jacuzzi. Life just doesn’t get any better!