A Road Trip Through Waterfall Valley - Day 1
Growing up in Pérez Zeledón allowed me to be in constant contact with nature. Some of the most beautiful places in the country are just a short drive (or walk, even) away -but I’m biased, of course- and are easily accessible from my hometown. Perez Zeledón is located in the center of El General Valley, one of those still unspoiled parts of the country which hasn’t been caught by the rise of tourism elsewhere. Tucked in the south of Costa Rica, the valley is filled with a fair share of unexplored conservation areas, nature reserves and the like. However, this journey was planned as a search for the impressive host of waterfalls which are hidden all around El General Valley.
To be honest, I had visited one of these, probably heard about three or such and was unaware of the rest of them which I had the pleasure of ‘discovering’ on this journey. My trip was full of surprises: sleeping behind one of the tallest waterfalls in the country was very much unexpected.
I begin my journey at the northernmost edge of the Valley and made my way south, down into a small rural village holding one of the most beautiful waterfalls I’ve had the pleasure of visiting.
A. Vista Real Waterfalls
I drove my way down from el Cerro de la Muerte (those familiar with Costa Rican routes, this is one of the two highways connecting San José to the south of the country) and coming down into Perez Zeledón, I made a quick detour searching for Vista Real. Just a heads up, since the road is very sinuous, you have to be ready to make a quick turn off the road, otherwise you’ll miss the exit.
The waterfall is nestled somewhat deep into the mountain, which means you’ll have to drop your car off and hike for about 1.5 hours o get there (and, of course, 1.5 hours to get out). My advice would be to spare some 4 hours to visit, so you can chill and enjoy the view. Is it worth it? The photo speaks for itself.
Entrance fee includes lunch and the owners have some accommodation, as well, in case you’d rather spend the night.
B. Ecochontales Waterfalls
My trip took me then to Ecochontales, a waterfall which is, for the most part, unknown probably to it’s location somewhat off the beaten track. I drove my way down to San Isidro (town center) and then took a turn down the road to Pedregoso. Some kilometers into the road, the road turns to rough gravel which makes a 4x4 a good choice to visit.
Once there, it’s just a 15 minute hike up to the waterfall, with impressive views of the fall, the rock and the lush vegetation which surrounds it. It’s an amazing sight where you can sit around and relax for a while. If in a hurry, plan a one-hour visit to the fall, otherwise spend the day, since the people sell meals and some accommodation nearby is available.