Llanos de Cortés Wa­ter­fall

Llanos de Cortés Wa­ter­fall is well worth a visit

Howler Magazine - - Contents - By Karl Kahler

Off the Beaten Path

Some say Llanos de Cortés is the most beau­ti­ful wa­ter­fall in Costa Rica, and in this coun­try that's say­ing a lot.

Thirty min­utes south of Liberia near Ba­gaces, these falls are about 20 me­ters tall and roughly the same width, with a half-dozen places on top where the wa­ter spills over the edge. This cre­ates a beau­ti­ful ef­fect, with wa­ter stream­ing down­ward across a broad cliff face rather than plung­ing down in one tor­rent.

Strong wa­ter­falls of­ten dig deep pools at their base, al­low­ing safe cliff jump­ing, but that's not the case here. The rock of the cliff base can be brit­tle, mak­ing it dan­ger­ous to climb, and the pool is not all that deep.

But the pool is cool and swimmable, and in most places the sandy bot­tom is easy on bare feet. And there's lots of shade spread around the base, and plenty of rocks or logs to sit on, or flat places to lie on a blan­ket.

This at­trac­tion is un­der new man­age­ment as of Fe­bru­ary. Pre­vi­ously it was open to the pub­lic for a vol­un­tary do­na­tion that went to lo­cal schools. Then for a while the dirt road lead­ing to the falls was closed to ve­hi­cles, re­quir­ing a long walk.

Now the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Ba­gaces ad­min­is­ters the falls, charg­ing $7 ad­mis­sion for for­eign­ers and c2,000 for na­tion­als. There's a large park­ing lot with a bath­room, and a life­guard who blows his whis­tle when peo­ple get too close to the falls (there is a dan­ger of fall­ing rock, he told me).

Posted rules pro­hibit al­co­holic bev­er­ages, smok­ing and pets, though we broke two of these rules and no­body blew any whis­tles at us.

To get to Llanos de Cortés from Liberia on Hwy. 1 South, count the pedes­trian bridges over­head and when you see the fourth one, turn right im­me­di­ately af­ter it (al­most un­der­neath it) on a lit­tle dirt road. The turnoff is about 20 km from Liberia and 4km be­fore Ba­gaces.

The gravel road will take you to a guard shack where you pay ad­mis­sion, and then it's a short drive to the park­ing lot.

Pre­pare to be im­pressed!

The pool is cool and swimmable, and in most places the sandy bot­tom is easy on bare feet.

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