Inland, northeast of Liberia, Guanacaste’s regional hub, is Rincon de la Vieja National Park, part of the Guanacaste Conservation Area’s World Heritage site. The active Volcan Rincón de la Vieja (1,916 m), often shrouded by mists is one of the most accessible of the volcanoes in the Guanacaste range. One of the best times to visit Rincon de la Vieja is the green season (May to November), when the fumaroles and boiling mud pots are most active. Elevations of less than 600 meters up to 1,916 m create a variety of habitats, including the highest density of Costa Rica’s national flower, guaria morada, an ever-rarer purple orchid (Cattleya skinneri). The area’s geothermal activity produces heat for a mixture of warm springs and bubbling mud pools, which many believe are therapeutic. Regardless, the mud baths are a great way to relax and relieve sore muscles after a long day of hiking.
Also inland, south of Rincon de la Vieja and almost exactly midway between Puentarenas on the Gulf of Nicoya and Volcan Arenal National Park, at the end of a winding dirt road off the Pan American Highway, is Monteverde, perched on Costa Rica’s Continental Divide. Settled in the 1950s by Quakers leaving America’s hawkish society, the lush paradise nestles between two cloud forest reserves, the Monteverde (Green Mountain) and the Santa Elena. Home to virgin forests, ancient strangler figs and the endangered quetzal, resplendent in its emerald, ruby and turquoise plumage, the glorious natural wonders attract scientists, birdwatchers and naturalists from all corners of the globe.