Central America CostaRica Travel

A MILESTONE BIRTHDAY IN COSTA RICA – PART 1 BAJOS DEL TORO

The June of 2021, we visited Panama and Costa Rica to celebrate my 30th Birthday. I never had plans
of visiting Costa Rica for my 30th but since Peru was not open to tourists fully, we decided to change
our destination last minute. It was Shobhit’s idea to go to Costa Rica and I can’t thank him enough
for taking this call.
The country is filled with diverse experiences and everything we did on this trip was so much fun.
Booking our tickets just 2 weeks prior to travel, we had to pay a bit extra than the usual. From
Seattle, we only had the option of 1 stop flight. We arrived at San Jose airport where we showed
health declaration we had got after filling the form by uploading our Insurance. A negative COVID
test was not needed to enter the country but a travel insurance covering COVID was a must. We
then picked up our rental car from Europcar. It was not a very pleasant start as we had to literally
wait 30 mins to get the shuttle to get our car. And after arriving there was only 1 person helping all
check in. Beware that car rentals are cheap in these countries however Insurances can be quite high.
The first night we spent in San Jose as we arrived late and decided to go for Indian meal assuming
we would not find it ahead. We tried Naans & Curries in Lindora which was a 5 mins walk from our
hotel Aloft.


BAJOS DEL TORO – Our most favorite part of the trip!
The next morning our actual trip began. We drove to this tiny village of Bajos del Toro which is a
favorite for city Costa Ricans as it’s only a 2 hour drive from San Jose and offers a plethora of
excellent hikes and beautiful waterfalls without many tourists. Bajos del Toro is perfect for any
hiking lovers looking to “get off the beaten path”. On our way, we also stopped at the La Paz
Waterfall garden which is a part of the beautiful Peace Lodge. It also has the largest Animal
Sanctuary in Costa Rica & has a few waterfall trails. The La Paz waterfall is not located inside this
property but is about a 5 min drive from this place and you can see it from the road only. There is no
formal parking or entry for these falls. However for La Paz waterfall garden you have to pay an
entrance of 48$ per person.

The road to Bajos del Toro via Route 1 is on a paved road however it is recommended to have a high
car because it gets quite windy, narrow and curvy. The road goes along the mountain cliffs with no
rails and being up in the cloud forest, it tends to rain and fog quite a lot so it can get slippery. For
those not familiar with driving these kinds of roads, rent a 4×4/4wd, especially if visiting during rainy
season! And that was the season we visited in. Although, Costa Rica is a tropical country and it rains
anytime during the year.


Bajos del Toro is not very accommodating to tourists as there are no public buses, only a couple
small convenience stores and no clinics, full pharmacies, big supermarkets or banks. All those are
found in Zarcero, about a 30 minute drive from Bajos del Toro. Additionally, there are only a few actual hotels in the area. The rest are small houses, cabins or rooms. The main hotel in the area is the El Silencio Lodge and Spa, a luxury lodge with a spa, on-site waterfalls, restaurant, river and tour and transportation services. This is where we stayed and also celebrated my birthday. The team went above and beyond to make our stay special by welcoming us with some sweets & savories & also accommodating all our requests.

Since we are vegetarians, Shobhit spoke to the chef to curate a special private dinner menu by the
riverfront with all the possible ingredients that I like. The chef also made a special Passion fruit cake
on my birthday which Shobhit had requested. We loved everything about this stay and found
another beautiful Relais & Chateaux property!

We hiked so many waterfalls in this area that it is very hard to choose which one was the best. On
my birthday we started with the Poza Azul which is a private property owned by Rio Agrio
Waterfalls. You can buy combined tickets from their main shop and they load you in a small truck to
take you to the pools. It can get muddy and rainy & you need to hike about half a mile. Later we
visited the Rio Agrio falls which is about an hour hike from the main reception. The hike is stunning
with a beautiful rainforest leading to the falls.


Our final stop for the day was the Blue falls also known as Las Gemelas. We were literally debating to
do this one as we were to go to the Rio Celeste but trust me this is beyond your imagination! Again
this is a private property and you need to go with a guide. You can buy combo tickets with the main
waterfall del Toro. Again you hike about an hour to get to the falls and you need to cross a river thus
the guide will assist you correctly checking the water flow and also give you sticks in the beginning.
Make sure you are wearing water shoes all throughout & carry some band aids for cuts and shoe
bites.

After a day full of adventurous birthday, Shobhit had planned a beautiful surprise dinner date vy the
river for me with some fun dance music and delicious food. It was our time with each other so no
cameras 😛
Bajos del Toro is a cloudforest and the drive around is great with clouds settling all over. We decided
to complete the hike of the main attraction- Catarata del Toro where it rained a bit but made the
whole experience so worthwhile. If you love waterfalls, then you will have to put Catarata del Toro
on your list of places to see in Costa Rica. This stunning waterfall stands at an impressive 270 feet(82
meters) inside an old volcano crater in the rain forest. Owned and operated by a Costa Rican-Dutch
couple, they transformed a little piece of the rain forest into a welcoming visitor’s center so travelers
experience the beauty of the Del Toro waterfall.

When you arrive at the waterfall park, you’ll first see their visitor center which consists of a
restaurant, nature trails, hummingbird gardens. There is a nice viewing spot from the hummingbird
garden where you can see the waterfall. The thing to keep in mind is that you need to climb down about 500 stairs to get to the falls which is great but the tough part is to climb them up back haha! Take your time on the steps because they are steep, but they put up rails to help you keep your balance. Don’t forget to look around every so often because there are nice views of the waterfall along the trail.
After this we decided to take our day light and we drove to the nearby little city of Sarchi which is
very popular for having the largest bullock cart in the world. The town is full of artists and you can
find some of the best décor items and souvenirs here. And then not to mention, each day we would end in a relaxing way as El Silencio has a hot tub in each room to relax you from all day’s adventure.
There are way too many waterfall hikes in this area and you can easily spend 5-6 days around if you
love waterfall hiking. We were there for 4 days and loved how everything went!


I really wanted to see the Quebrada de Gata but it is not safe as it has a dam & the govt has closed it.
Many people still visit but locals would ask you to avoid as the govt opens the dam anytime without
notifying and it could be very dangerous. But Las Gemelas was no less than a fairy-tale waterfall. And
the best part is since these places are non touristy and we decided to go in the wet season, we had
all these waterfalls by ourselves and could spend as much as we wanted. Also, another advantage on
going in the wet season is you get to see the best flow of the waterfalls which was our primary
reason to shortlist this place!

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