La Leona Waterfall Hiking Tour
Costa Rica has many amazing things to offer, from lush rainforests and wildlife to stunning beaches and epic sunsets. However, not every attraction is well known enough to earn a spot on many of the best places to visit lists. One of those places is La Leona Waterfall!
However, let me tell you, La Leona is definitely a place worth visiting. Until now, La Leona Waterfall has been a hidden gem, but its beauty has made its popularity rise in recent years. This gorgeous waterfall sits within a canyon and the water running through it is turquoise blue. It’s one of the best waterfalls in Costa Rica!
La Leona Waterfall is located in the small town of Curubandé, 20 minutes from Liberia in the province of Guanacaste. La Leona is a unique deep blue waterfall rooted between two canyons. It’s one of the few, if not the only, one in Costa Rica with this characteristic.
What To Expect.
A full day tour exploring off the beaten path in Curubande, Rincon de la Vieja Volcano with your own personal guide and transportation. The day consists of a moderate 3-hour hike alongside the celeste waters of Rio Blanco, and spot wildlife along the way. Once you get to La Leona waterfall, you can swim in the cool blue waters. Finish the day with a typical Costa Rican lunch
Start of the Catarata La Leona Hike
Below is the tour described by a customer:
We decided to take the moderate hike to the waterfall. There are a few trails: easy, moderate and difficult. Our hike started off easy. For the first part, our guide showed us the various river pools for bathing. As this river originates from the Rincon de la Vieja volcano, it has this amazing blue color.
During our hike, our guide shared facts about the unique tropical dry forest and pointed out interesting trees and plants. He also told us the legends behind the name “Curubande” and “Rincon de la Vieja.”Rincon de la Vieja means the old woman’s corner in Spanish and Curubande is the name of the village chief’s daughter. In the legend, Curubande fell in love with the son of the rival tribe’s chief. They had a tragic love story so whenever the locals heard loud howling wind at night, they would say she was still up there in the canyons, crying and grieving over her long lost love and son.
Hearing these stories as we crossed the blue rivers and pools made the place feel even more magical.
After we crossed the river for the last time, our guide told us that it was time to explore the canyons. He started walking up a hill full of rocks and tree branches. Although it didn’t look like much of a path, we followed him up.
The Caves and Canyons
We emerged on the other side of this hill to an open canyon and caves. Our guide explained to us that the rock formation came from the last volcanic eruption many years ago and now during certain months of the year, it’s home to lechuzas, or little owls. Hence the name, Cañon La Lechuza.
As we walked through the cave, I looked up and could see little furry faces peering down on us. They weren’t owls but bats and they were just hanging up there, napping and checking us out.
At one point, I felt like the hike turned into a caving tour as our guide led through more caves and canyons. And every time I came out the other side of a cave, I felt like I had just passed into another world!
After what felt like the 5th or 6th cave, we came upon a calm section of the river. This pool was completely tranquil and quiet with a brilliant blue color. We were hot and sweaty from walking so we jumped in right away!
Even though we were having a ton of fun swimming and jumping into the pool at this spot, our guide soon said Vamos! And we looked at him like, what already? Si, he said with a large smile on his face. Esto no es el parte lo más bonito del río (This isn’t the most beautiful part of the river).
So we put our shoes back on and followed him a little bit further down the river until we finally reached the actual entrance to the Catarata La Leona. We realized exactly why before our guide said we hadn’t reached the nicest part of the river yet!
Arriving at Catarata
La Leona – the Last Stretch
A large and calm blue pool emerged before us and I saw a rope in the water, stretched towards the cave in the back. I could faintly hear a roar of crashing water coming from the cave and my excitement level peaked again as our guide explained to us the next step.
We had to swim through the canyon into the cave, using the rope to pull us along and in the cave, was the waterfall. ¿Todo bien? he asked.
As soon as we said yes, he jumped into the water right away and motioned us to follow him.
Luckily the water level was not too deep and the current was not that strong so it was easy to swim to the cave. When I reached the cave, he lifted me up out of the water, hoisted me onto the rocks and told me to turn around.
As soon as I turned around, the incredible Catarata La Leona waterfall appeared before my eyes. We finally made it to the waterfall after trekking up rocky hills, climbing through caves and swimming through river pools!
Catarata La Leona is not big but being hidden inside a cave made it all more special, especially considering we had to swim, ¡climb and trek through the forest and rivers to get there!
Who Can Do The Catarata La Leona Hike?
The trail is for intermediate hikers with a sense of adventure! There are a few trails of varying difficulty so you do not have to go through canyons or climb up rocks like we did. However, you do need to be able to walk at least 1 hour with no problems and you cannot have a fear of deep water. You do need to know how to swim.
You can ask your guide to take you through the adventure trail or the easy trail. The easy trail is very straightforward – it’s just from the entrance to the La Leona waterfall cave directly.
If anyone in your group does not want to do this hike, they can hang out in the calm river pools by the parking lot.
• Distance: 2km each way (1.5 miles each way)
• Duration: 3hrs total from start to finish
• Difficulty: Treacherous Hike Moderate Level
• This tour IS NOT an easy walk in the park, This is an Adventure Tour
What You Get
• Facilities: Changing rooms and bathrooms
• Life jackets: If you need them they will be available
• Tour Guides
What to Bring?
• Closed toe shoes (no flip flops )
• (Keens/chacos are okay to wear)
• Shoes with a good grip
• Extra clothes to change
• Extra shoes to change• Towels
• TChildren’s Age (Min age for this tour is 8)
• 3 hours on the place
• Admission Ticket Included.
• 1.5 hours from Peninsula de Papagayo