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Celeste River
Where the sky

                         flows down

                                                the mountain…

By:Andrés Benavente
Photos: Franck & Christinne Dziubak

The area surrounding the Tenorio Volcano is loaded with exuberant views and an array of particularly gorgeous sights.  And here, nestled between mountains and forests, a highly unusual and thriling natural show unfolds.

The Tenorio Volcano National Park protects 31,807 acres of primary rain forest which serves as shelter to an immense diversity of life.

Along with being  home to an exceptional amount of nature, this area offers a wide range of attractions, that combined, make visiting and exploring the Tenorio Volcano a unique experience full of rich nuances.

The indisputable star of the park is the atypical Celeste River, whose sky blue water marvels all visitors.  Traveling upriver one can see the waters stretch into an impressing waterfall.  As one continues, will find the river resting in calm lagoons and a littler farther up, one will discover the source in itself a marvel; the place from which the waters get their lively and original color of the sky.  Science tells us that the blue coloring is the result of a chemical reaction between the thermal steam that emanates from the bottom of the river and the calcium carbonate that enters the river from a small stream.
However, a popular local saying poses a different theory:
“When God finished painting the sky, he washes his brushes in the Rio Celeste“.

Maybe it was when washing the brushes that God also dropped some extra life into the area, as these lands are home to an extraordinary variety of species.  Most of the feline species in Costa Rica reside within this 100 Km2 area, including jaguars, cougars, ocelots and margays.  All the large mammal species of  Costa Rica also live in the park: there are tapirs, peccary, paca, anteaters, coatis, raccoons, and 3 of the 4 varieties of indigenous monkeys (howlers, white faced and squirrel monkeys or titi).

A large variety of birds can also be seen such as the bare-necked umbrella bird, toucans, bare-throated bell birds, turkey vultures, crested guan, hummingbirds and several species of falcons.

The park also hosts small natural thermal water fountains and impressive forest lookout points.

The Indian Reservation, Maleku, is also located quite close to the park.  Here one can learn about the unique Maleku culture, interact with its people, and experience a brief glimpse of  their   distinctive way of life.


One can also go rafting down the Tenorio River and experience an exciting adventure including level III and IV rapids .

The entrance to the Tenorio Park is in the vicinity of Bijagua, a small village inhabited by friendly people who are determined to develop their tourism efforts in a sustainable and harmonious manner.

In the vicinity of the quiet village of Bijagua, is the Tenorio Lodge Hotel, our first refuge in this trip.  The place regaled us with formidable views of the volcano,  beautiful tropical gardens and  warm and comfortable rooms, all in an exquisitely peaceful atmosphere.
The hotel appears to be in the natural route of mammals and birds, which stroll freely amidst  the gardens, undisturbed by our presence or with our insistent curiosity.

In the following days we went to see the Celeste Mountain Lodge, another eco-hotel in the area whose dedicated commitment for sustainability caught our attention.  Once at the lodge, we happily discovered that the whole place revolves around minimizing environmental impact and facilitating the interaction between the guests and the natural surroundings.

Both hotels are good examples of responsible tourism and harmonious development and both provide all the modern comforts, with a minimum environmental impact.

Rio Celeste  is a very special treasure of this country. The park that protects it and its surrounding areas is a journey that all nature lovers will deeply enjoy.



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