A Waterfall near Liberia: Llanos de Cortés

A Waterfall near Liberia: Llanos de Cortés

Liberia might seem far removed from the natural wonders Costa Rica is known for, but that is not true of the iconic Llano de Cortes waterfall located only 30 minutes from the city center. It being a lazy Sunday, I decided to take the bus up there and experience the site I had already read so much about.

Always looking forward to experiencing public transportation in new places and keen to try and make my way in the local language, I practiced how to ask the driver to alert me when we reach the stop in Spanish, having read the stops are not clear at all. I merely expected a “si” but he had all kinds of things to add of which I could understand very little. I just smiled, nodded and sat myself next to a very nice man offering me a toothless grin, clearly amused by my puzzled expression which instantly followed the smug one of pulling off that one sentence without a hitch. The airy and spacious bus took us by a long, winding highway with the occasional house and vendor placed by the side of the road. Once the driver had called out “Llano de Cortez”(thankfully) it only took a short walk for the highway to seem miles away. I took a right turn and set on a 3k walk towards the waterfall on the dusty roads through the rugged, dry landscapes.

A Waterfall near Liberia: Llanos de Cortés

About halfway through the walk, I reached the ticket booth where I was charged 4000 CRC to enter. I recall reading that the entrance was by donation only but the staff informed me that seeing the potential of the place, the government took charge of the, now attraction, three weeks ago and even installed toilets and hired a life guard.

The waterfall was a welcome sight after the dust had very securely settled on my hair and skin. Even though you can swim and relax in the waters underneath the falls, the strong winds carried some of its freshness towards me and brought the sensation of a crisp, summer rain. I had arrived only an hour or so after opening time and yet there were already quite a few people there. Tourists and locals alike come to either cool down in the water, set up a hammock for the day, or just throw down some towels and sleep. Some had even set up a picnic with fresh pineapples and juices. I was offered some. It was delicious.

After about an hour of thoroughly enjoying the atmosphere, I started to head back since more and more people were now showing up. The once desolate dusty roads, were now filled with cars queueing to get to the waterfall. Glad I avoided the midday rush, I slowly made my way back to the road where I recall a couple selling 3 ice cold coconuts for 2 dollars. I was really looking forward to that.

This blog was written by Mieke, from Belgium, who is a Spanish student at Instituto Estelar Bilingüe in Liberia, Costa Rica.