The Biggest Waterfall in Costa Rica

photo 2 copyWow – what an AHHHH-MAZING day we had at Catarata Del Toro (translated:  “Waterfall of the Bull”).  This was a spur of the moment, day-before decision.  Our friends told us about it, and asked if we wanted to go.  It was supposedly not too far away – in the mountains of Bajos Del Toro Amarillo, Sarchi, Alajuela, and evidently the biggest waterfall in Costa Rica, but not known to many (we had never heard of it).  We had no plans for that day, and when you don’t have a car, you can’t hesitate too long on an opportunity like this – so of course we said YES!

We started out early in the morning, and the drive was beautiful.  It was a longer drive than we thought, with no signs for the waterfall, and we stopped and asked local people twice for a point in the right direction.     We drove – up, up, up the mountain.  It was a very narrow and curvy road, but surprisingly well paved.  The views were incredible.  We only encountered other vehicles a few times, and they slowed down nicely and both of us got over as far as we could to let the other pass (our friend Steve did a GREAT job driving!).  After reaching the top of the mountain, the road oddly started heading back down…  But, after driving down a ways we started seeing signs – we were all happy to see this place really DID exist! – and then we finally arrived at our destination.

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This place was great.  A true “hidden treasure”, seemingly in the middle of no where.  We walked in through an open air restaurant with hummingbirds everywhere, paid the $10 entrance fee, went through a gate at the back of the restaurant – and entered paradise.

Straight ahead, we could see the waterfall in front of us, and it was indeed gorgeous.  We were on level with the top of the waterfall, only separated by an old volcanic crater.


We knew we could walk down to the bottom of the waterfall for better views.   We took the nature trail through the jungle for about 500 meters, before we got to the stairs.  Yep – there were LOTS of them.  This was not for the faint of heart.  The stairs started as cement stairs, but then gradually turned into dirt steps, some being quite steep.  There was not always a railing to hold onto…  And the steps didn’t stop!  I should have counted them.  My legs were quivering like jello.



But, let me tell you, folks – the many steps were worth it!  When we got to the bottom, it was another world.  The waterfall empties into a giant old volcanic crater.  It was truly breathtaking.  At the base it is crazy loud with a cool misty wind (which feels GREAT after that long hike down!).  There’s the one huge waterfall, but other smaller ones surrounding it, also.  The rock walls are a gorgeous rainbow color, and the boulders and bright green moss complete this perfect view.   It’s really so very beautiful – I can’t describe it in words or photos adequately.




I stood there in peace and happiness for some time. Until I realized I had to go back up all those steps.  But – you have to, there’s no tram or bus – it’s the only way back up.  So – upward we went…  stopping and pausing for breath a few times.


Notice the awesome hand-rail!

There were lots of beautiful trees and flowers along the hike:


a yellow flower.



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a purple flower.

Afterwards we had a cold drink in the restaurant and watched all the hummingbirds.   We were so close to them, and there were tons – it was great to relax and just watch them “hum”.


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Our FABULOUS friends Justa & Steve – they are the best!


Then we started the drive back, and stopped at place called “Restaurante Tipico” – a small local soda in the little town of Bajos Del Toro.  Tipical Costa Rican food, but cooked in a wood burning oven.  It was fantastic.  My girlfriend Justa was particularly excited about the sweets they made there (some were still hot from the oven!) – and bought several to go.1

Coming back was a little adventurous in itself.  We encountered some cows in the road:


And then a horse – poor horse was very nervous and scared, not sure how he got outside of the fence:

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And then – wow – another waterfall, this time just off the side of the road – just for us!  We pulled over and starred at it for or a while.  Just gorgeous.


What a perfect end to our already fabulous day!  Thanks Justa & Steve for a surprise-awesome-day!

That’s all for now!  Ciao! — Jen



1 FOOT NOTE:  “to go” in Costa Rican Spanish is “para llevar” – pronounced para yevar


I quit my job in my early 40’s, sold everything and retired early to live a simple life in Costa Rica!

Check out my book: "Costa Rica Chica" - the book.

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3 Responses to The Biggest Waterfall in Costa Rica

  1. I really enjoyed your warm weather pictures! We are sitting here in the Frozen Tundra in our CuddleDuds and UnderArmour! No picture

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