Rincon de la Vieja National Park: 34 km (21 mi)
Breakfast is served at 7:00 a.m. Cereals, freshly squeezed juice, gallo de pintp, scrambled eggs, toast and jam. Not bad but we miss a little bit our German breakfast. A crispy roll, cold cuts, cheese – that wouldn’t be too bad.
The weather is fine when we drive to Rincon de la Vieja National Park. After having paid the entrance fee of 10 $ per person we head for a 3 km (2 mi) circle hiking trail. It leads through dense forest with stunning high trees. One of them is completely hollow and has become the victim of a strangler fig. What a bizarre sight!
Then we reach the steaming fumaroles reminding us impressively that we are in an active volcano area. Hot steam comes out of the ground and mud bubbles everywhere. It’s funny to watch the splashing hot mud. No doubt it’s worth seeing that, but we are not too impressed by this natural spectacle. We have seen that much greater. More colourful and much more impressing elsewhere: in particular in Rotorua in New Zealand. That’s the “disadvantage” of travelling too much: many sights are repeating, and we cannot but compare them.
The hiking trail now is getting very slushy, and despite all caution I cannot avoid that I lose my balance on a slippery stone. Great! Patrick is lying in the mud. Completely soaked and dirty I have to continue our hike. Fortunately I haven’t hurt myself.
At 11:00 a.m. we are back to the park entrance and we decide to go for a second hike. Our destination is Escondida Waterfal, which is an abt. 4.6 km (2.9 mi) one way hike. The first 2.6 km (1.6 mi) lead through a dense forest. It’s going uphill and downhill and we have to climb over many thick roots. Our pace is very slow. We hear the screams of the hawler monkeys, but unfortunately we can’t see them.
Then we leave the forest behind us and reach open fields. It’s a steady uphill walk now. Rather climbing than hiking. The sun burns mercilessly from a cloudless blue sky, sweat is flowing and the heart is beating wildly. We are at the end of our power, but we still want to enjoy the waterfall. Although we neither can hear nor see the waterfall, it can’t be too far away. Now we understand it’s name “Escondido” which means “hidden.”
Nevertheless we still continue our way for another five minutes or so, but then we listen to reason and give up. After all it’s still a long way back and moreover we run out of water. 1.5 litres for the two of us is far too little for a strenuous hike like this. Therefore we renounce on playing the hero and begin our way back. One remarkable sight along the way is a beautiful lizard nestling in the leaf of an agave.
With our last ounce of strength we finally reach our car. Altogether today’s hikes have taken us six hours with almost no rest in between. That has been really too much!
On our way to the park this morning we have seen a sign to “Rio Negro Hot Springs” and we remember that the Swiss guys staying with us at Casa Rural Aroma de Campo had recommended this place. We get there, pay 5$ entrance fee and relax in 5 natural thermal pools. The hot water is supplied by a nearby volcanic spring. We are the only ones here and soon we feel our tired spirits regenerating.
Tonight we are fewer people for dinner than yesterday, which makes it easier to communicate with each other. Besides us there are four familiar faces: a German couple from Berlin and a Dutch couple from Rotterdam.
Two ladies from Quebec, Canada are new at the table. One of them speaks only French, but the other one is also fluent in English. Most of the conversation we do in English so that everybody at the table is involved. The French speaking lady at least understands some English and the rest is translated by her friend. It’s a very nice evening but it ends very early at 9:00 p.m. because everybody – including us – is dead tired.