Rio Celeste, Costa Rica – Azure in the jungle

Jungle rivers have to be muddy-brown, opaque, and dangerous home of crocodiles, parasitic unicellular organisms and other suspicious creatures. That’s why Rio Celeste appears completely abstruse and inappropriately coloured in the middle of the rainforest. The colour of the river is a slightly milky fabric softener-blue as if a baby bath towel got ready to swim. We never saw a river colour like this, which is so special that it seems completely incomprehensible that we didn’t find this private park in any travel guide or map – it was a tip of baker Tom.

A nearly four kilometres long rocky and muddy jungle path (to be walked back as well) leads to the most interesting spots: a waterfall that pounces into an also blue natural swimming pool; a hot spring where one can cool down immediately after in the refreshing river water; a small lake that is of such shrieking turquoise that it appears unreal and where swimming is not recommended due to high mineral concentration; and finally the so-called teñideros where the river changes its colour suddenly as if it were aligned using a ruler. The water is initially clear and flows over brownish rocks where it must take up so many minerals that it all of a sudden gets this fabric softener-azure.

Estimate at least for hours for this hike, better longer to enjoy an extended jungle bath. The swampy trail requests for sturdy hiking boots (sometimes even rubber boots) that should be at least ankle-high if only because of the poisonous snakes that busily cross the path now and then. Huge butterflies and tiny hummingbirds fly around. The private park Rio Celeste with its hiking trails can only be accessed from hotels and lodges. The hotel Catarata Rio Celeste offers public entrance with big parking lot, information, and guide if requested, for the usual 10 $ entrance fee. You reach the park from the road at Katira north of Guatuso via a 12 km long rocky trail where you climb from 120 to pleasant 650 m elevation. The manager Don Pedro allows us to camp here for free: N 10°42’11.5’’ W 84°58’39.0’’.

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