Pura vida

Chasing waterfalls and climbing mountains: Exploring Costa Rica’s natural beauty

More stories from Alanna Huggett

Pura Vida
May 15, 2019

After a hearty breakfast of gallo pinto (the main dish of Costa Rica, essentially rice, beans and spices), eggs, fresh fruit and a glass of orange juice, my friends and I were ready to start our final Latin American culture class adventure in the Valle de Orosi, located about an hour and a half from my home in Heredia, in the Cartago Province of Costa Rica.

Despite being told what to bring, our professor surprised us when we stopped at a small gravel parking lot and told us we were hiking to Monte Sky Mirador Ecológico. At this point the only thing visible of the lookout was a Costa Rican flag waving in the breeze far above our current location.

Grabbing highly recommended hiking sticks, or in my case a blue broom handle, we started our trek up the mountain. As we ascended, our hearts pounded with the altitude change and the steep incline.

I stopped several times along the way to admire the view — the colorful houses dotting the hillside, the looming green mountains around us and the nearby clouds — as we climbed higher and higher.

Walking the last few steps to the mirador and trailcheck point, I was stunned by the flowers growing this high, the peaceful silence, and the mountain view. I could see for miles and miles, nothing but green forests and far away a seemingly tiny town. It was lovely.

We continued on towards the cascadas, about a 30 minute walk from the Monte Sky Mirador Ecolgóico point. As we climbed the mountain, our feet gripping slippery rocks and dodging tree roots, the trail got damp, and then slightly mushy.

Before we knew it, we were traipsing through mud, uphill. However I was not distraught; I kept my pura vida mindset and was thankful to have my mud-caked Chacos, smiling as I stumbled yet again on a slippery rock.

At the halfway point we saw our first waterfall. About 6 to 8 feet tall, the water was cold and refreshing as I paused to rinse my shoes in the stream cascading from the small cascada before following my classmates ahead of me.

We continued on, hiking uphill until we reached it. The cascada we had all been waiting for, one worth ruining Birkenstocks and Vans (some of us were sadly not prepared) over.

It was an impressive sight; the water, clean and safe to drink, dropping almost directly down from the steep cliff. I’d never seen a waterfall quite this steep before and it was definitely worth the short, muddy hike to see its grandeur.

My professor told us that it’s here that the water for all of Costa Rica stems from.

Costa Rica has not ceased in impressing me with it’s natural beauty, from the warm water beaches to stunning waterfalls and montañas verdes (green mountains). If one wants to see the natural beauty of this country, they only need to travel a short distance to witness it.

Huggett can be reached at [email protected]