Nature

Travel to El Salto del Calvo in Hojancha, the Highest Waterfall in Central America

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Arriving at the high point of Monte Romo, El Salto del Calvo waterfall is hidden among the hills of Hojancha. It is one of the most stunning places in the province of Guanacaste and the highest in Central America.

The waterfall is in San Isidro of Hojancha, 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) south of the center of the canton, heading toward Monte Alto Reserve, a place that few people in Guanacaste know about. Here you can appreciate the generosity of nature in every nook and cranny, in the landscape viewed from the car window and in the smile of the farmer that gives you directions.

Carlos Gonzalez Vega welcomes us to his humble home with three horses and a machete in hand to start the journey. At 600 meters (1970 feet) above sea level, surrounded by crops of sweet lemon, yucca and squash, you see large tracts of forest, part of the Hojancha-Nandayure biological corridor.

At 70, Gonzalez works every day on this 165-hectare (400-acre) farm, which he registered as a Wildlife Refuge 20 years ago, committing to protecting and conserving the environment and wildlife and preventing fires and logging.

The downward journey can be made on foot or horseback along partially shaded trails where you see a large variety of flora and fauna. If you’re lucky and you stay quiet, you’ll see different animals pass by: deer, raccoons, armadillos and even ocelots.

“Wild pigs went through here. They have plenty of space to roam and they go down here and drink water,” Gonzalez commented while noticing fresh tracks on the path.

After 40 minutes on horseback, the sound of the Zapotal River lets us know we are close. In the distance, we can see the immensity of Salto del Calvo, two impressive waterfalls separated by 175 meters (575 feet). They are 350 and 300 meters (1150 and 985 feet) high, according to measurements taken by a surveyor in 2004.

Once we reach the river, we cool down in the clear water of the Poza Azul (Blue Pool) that is about five meters (16 feet) deep and the water level doesn’t drop much this time of year.

Following the path of the river, 200 meters away, is the Poza Divertida (Fun Pool), which is formed like a slide, perfect for playing a while and sliding. Without thinking twice, Gonzalez dives into the water to cool off and enthusiastically invites us to enjoy a natural massage under the pressure of the water.

Finally, at the foot of the waterfalls, is when we truly appreciate the immensity of this unspoiled paradise. You can barely make out the highest point and the flow of water fills you with peace and tranquility. The sky starts to darken and it is time to head back. We return on foot through the woods. After a morning like this, I feel completely renewed.

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