The last eruption was in 1946 way before my time but today you can still see the smoke and feel the heat as you pass through this magnificent crater. This location is perfect for family travel. Not only are you learning something new, but I bet most people have never been inside a crater.
Our nature tour to the Las Hornillas volcanic center was an exciting day. Getting up early eating a healthy breakfast certainly helped to start our day off on the right foot so to speak. The volcanic center is located north of Fortuna on the slopes of the Miravalles Volcano. We packed our knapsacks or (mochillas) in Spanish with essentials for the day. Our swimsuits, towels, sunscreen, bug repellant, and camera, were the most important along with bottled for this adventure tour. If you plan on horseback riding we suggest you throw in a long pair of pants. The horses look healthy here and well care for at this destination which is another reason why we love this tour besides the many waterfalls and of course the crater itself.
Arriving at the top of the mountain
Taking a tractor ride in the back of a wagon reminds me of my childhood years. If you love horses hop on and ride to the top of the mountain. We had a large group so half of us were in the wagon and the others enjoyed a leisurely horseback ride. The primary rainforest is so peaceful and quiet here giving you that jungle look with many vines hanging from the trees. It so picturesque and what I love about Costa Rica is you never know what you will see and it’s certainly well worth the journey to the north end of the Country.
As we set off on foot with our guide we came to the first hanging bridge with a view of a small waterfall off to the left. The trails wind through the forest climbing with a suttle elevation to the top of the mountain. The picture above was me following a path on my own. Not too far from the others in the group, but what an amazing picture I captured on my camera. Within about 20 minutes we transitioned from one eco system to the next. A one of a kind only in Costa Rica. Most of the waterfalls on our day tour had pools at the top you can dip into to cool off. If you are thinking the water is warm, think again! Cold and refreshing is more like it.
Finding the hidden waterfalls
If you love the outdoors as much as I do this might just be the perfect spot. The trails are not to crowded or strenuous for the average hiker. We crossed many bridges with safety wiring on each side and long cables for support. The sides of the hanging bridge sort of looked like chicken fencing. Take your time crossing as we found each of us going one at a time was better. The bridge felt less shaky this way for the next one to cross. I was the always last to cross so I could stop half way to capture photos of our experience.
A View from the first bridge
When you cross at the end make sure to turn and immediate right. For a moment I got lost from the others as I continued on the trail straight ahead. The others had followed the guide and headed down the hill to the swim platform. This will take some skill to climb down as this part was a little steep. If you are a dare devil then I say “jump off the platform” into the beautiful waterfalls below at your own risk. The colors were gorgeous and as I was the photographer wanted to capture the scenery around us. The group in our tour loved this part of the tour and I think were the dare devils. To get back up to the platform you have to climb up the later so you really need to be careful as I can only imagine beginning wet from the plunge.
After this amazing experience we followed the trail that led us back to the tractor and horses. From here we followed the trail back down the mountain to the main center. By this time we were sure ready for an authentic TICO lunch. We sat at a long table reserved for our group enjoying a refreshing drink called Tamarindo. Kind of a brownish drink. I actually loved the taste! Through reading more about drinking Tamarindo, if you have to much it can be like a laxative so we advise that moderation is a good thing.
Walking inside the crater
After our lunch and washroom break we headed over to the crater center. Follow the walkways that wind you through the crater. The bubbling water & mud pools look hot. As you passed by some of the rocks you could feel the hot steam of vapours.
The outdoor spa experience and mud baths
Head over to the outdoor spa area. We suggest following the cycle for maximum therapeutic skin therapy. Grab your swimsuits and lather up with mud from the clay pots provided. I chose to wear an old swimsuit as I didn’t want to ruin any of my new one I purchased recently. The picture of me covered in mud is unfortunately lots but may turn up someday.
Let the mud dry so you have that grayish look then head on over to the outdoor statues to rinse off before sliding into the relaxing hot pool. This process helps to open your pores to receive maximum benefits. The last step is dipping into the cold pool closing your pores.
If you want to add in some excitement to the back of the crater is a 250 meter waterslide. Some of our tour group decided to try it out.
The day tour will be all day and you can spend as much time as you want at the hanging bridges and waterfalls or relax more in the spa area. It all depends on you!
This is the only place in Costa Rica where you can walk inside a crater. How amazing is that?
What we liked about Miravalles Volcano
- Washrooms on site as well as change area
- Restaurant on site
- Option for tractor ride if you don’t like horses
- Waterfalls and ability to swim
- Rainforest was beautiful
- Mud baths a natural therapeutic experience
What we didn’t like
- The hot & cold pools ( we thought the water could have been clearer)
- This possibly could be from people not rinsing off all the mud before entering
Watch a short video from the crater