Pura vida

The 3-hour hike: Adventuring to Los Chorros Waterfalls in Costa Rica

The TLC quote “Don’t go chasing waterfalls… please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to” would have been great advice for my friends and me as we planned a short day trip to check out Los Chorros waterfalls, located near Alajuela, Costa Rica.

Many of our other friends had already made the trek out to Los Chorros and said it was relatively easy. We’d seen pictures of the tall, breathtaking waterfalls surrounded by lush, green vegetation and dark rocks, and we decided we had to go check it out.

We started our adventure by taking an air-conditioned coach bus to Alajuela. Initially, we had planned to leave around 7 a.m. but with “tico time,” it ended up being closer to 7:30 – 7:45 a.m. Thankfully there was still plenty of time to get to the waterfalls, hang out for a while and then return home for lunch.

Once arriving in Alajuela, we contemplated how we were going to find the second bus to take us to the park entrance. Some of our other friends had used Uber to get there — advice we decided not to take. We found another bus, whose driver said the entrance to the park was only one kilometer, or one-half mile, away from the bus stop.

30-40 minutes later, we arrived at our bus stop, asked the driver what direction to walk (he told us straight ahead, up a giant hill lined with houses) and continued on our merry way.

Not too long after beginning our walk, we asked a local woman for directions. She said the waterfalls were about one-half mile away. We only had to continue walking up another sunny black asphalt covered hill. So onward we walked, listening to my friend’s speaker, drinking water, applying sunscreen and slowly baking as we walked up another hill.

20 minutes later, we asked yet another local — one selling food on the side of the road.

She also said it was about another one-half mile away, just up the hill. So we continued walking.

At this point, I was trying not to laugh, as we had been half a mile away for about an hour and a half.

Finally, we saw a small hand-painted wooden sign that said “entrance.” We all proceeded to head towards some mercifully shady trails, following the ill-fated sign towards the waterfalls.

We ended up walking for easily another hour and a half through dusty farm trails, passing ticos working in the fields and crossing over a small river.

We came out the other side of the dusty farmland and saw a small cluster of houses. I imagined it was like we came out of nowhere.

My friend Molly went over to one of the houses and asked for help. The local woman called us two taxis and served us jello with the help of her friendly daughter.

We took our taxis and burst out laughing about 10 minutes into our drive as we started seeing landscapes and building we recognized. We had missed the entrance to the park — by maybe 500 meters.

After roughly five more minutes of hiking and crossing a broken-down bridge complete with a gaping hole, we made it to the waterfalls, located only 45 minutes from our original destination.

The falls were strikingly tall — a medium-sized wading pool located at the bottom, just beyond some slippery rocks with chest-high, refreshingly cold, water. Another larger waterfall was located around the corner, past a small rocky river, shaded and just as impressively tall.

When we stepped into the cold, fresh water, the entirety of our roasting hot hike was forgotten, everything was pura vida.

Huggett can be reached at [email protected]