Bajos del Toro: Paradise is around the corner
Updated: Feb 17, 2022
When staying at Mangífera hostel, Bajos del Toro is a destination you definitely shouldn’t miss out on. Bajos del Toro is a small farmers commune, just a 45 minute drive away from our doorstep. It’s surrounded by dozens of the most beautiful waterfalls, rivers and natural pools that Costa Rica has to offer. The best part about Bajos del Toro is, that it isn't widely discovered by the average tourist, which makes your visit a truly unique experience.
In this read we discuss the following topics:
Cascadas Pozo Azúl (Trail can be level easy or intermediate - hard)
Catarata Tesoro Escondido (Intermediate +)
Finca Dos Rios (Easy - intermediate)
Catarata del Toro (Intermediate)
Catarata Río Agrio & Pozo Azul (Easy - intermediate)
How to get to Bajos del Toro by car?
The easiest way is to use Waze. Waze will get you to 'Bajos' through the nicest roads. You don’t need a 4x4 any more to get there. Recently the conditions of the roads improved drastically. We advise you to calculate some extra time to get out of the car on the way to admire the beautiful landscapes that you’ll be passing.
Already 20 minutes outside of Grecia town, you’ll start to notice that the crowded main road changes to a smaller, quiet and curvy road that leads uphill. On the way, you’ll encounter many wonderful landscapes, including a view of the ash fields of the Poás Volcano:
Driving through Bajos del Toro, you’ll notice several signs from different waterfalls and/or natural pools. Although all worth it, we highlight a couple of them for you. Wherever you choose to go, we’re sure that you’ll have a great time.
Insider tip! Don't be disappointed if you drive into a foggy / rainy Bajos del Toro... Sometimes it gets so foggy that you can't see any further than about 5 meters. The big advantage of Costa Rica is that there are so many microclimates that the weather can totally change within a 10 to 15 minute drive. So, if the weather in Bajos del Toro town is very bad, just drive a little bit further north towards Pueblo Nuevo (there are also plenty of waterfalls to visit) and maybe you're lucky to end up in a sunny area!
How to get to Bajos del Toro without a car?
What if you don’t have a (rental) car? Bajos del Toro is quite remote... And at this moment there is no bus connection to Bajos del Toro at all.
If you're lucky, you can arrange a car pool with some other guests that are staying in our hostel who are travelling by car. You never know! :-)
If you're not that lucky, you can choose to get to Bajos by Uber or taxi. Please read carefully the following information about the things you need to take into account if you're going to Bajos del Toro by Uber or taxi. Maybe there are other backpacks in the hostel who would like to share the ride to make the trip more cost effective!
If you go by Uber:
Talk to the Uber driver before getting into the car to set a price for the ride. The thing is: during the ride to Bajos del Toro, the internet connection will get lost many times and Uber won't pay the driver for the stretches without internet connection. So the driver will get paid way less than he should get paid. The app will probably indicate that the ride will cost you about 13000 Colones (depending on the demand and hour), but it's actually fair that the driver would like to charge you a little bit more. The road to Bajos del Toro is extremely steep and you also need to consider that the driver has to drive about 1 hour to drop you off and also 1 hour to get back to Grecia. By discussing the conditions of the ride well and upfront, you can avoid disappointments about the final price. Maybe it's even a good idea to cancel the ride with Uber, agree on a price with the driver and pay it to him/her in cash.
It's very important to tell the Uber driver right away which waterfall you want to visit, so that s(he) drops you off at the right spot. Bajos del Toro is a very long stretched town and it's difficult to explore this area by foot. So if the driver drops you off in the centre of Bajos del Toro town, you might still have to hike 6 / 7 kilometres to get to the entry of the waterfalls that you want to visit. Tell him/her right away if you want go to 'Tesoro Escondido' or to 'Cascadas Pozo Azúl' or ...
You can also first take the public bus to Sarchí and order an Uber to Bajos del Toro in Sarchí. Sarchí is a bit closer to Bajos del Toro than Grecia and that will save you money on the Uber ride. The buses from Grecia to Sarchí run frequent and depart from this bus station in Grecia.
If you go by taxi:
Another option is to get to Bajos del Toro by taxi. One day before you want to go to Bajos del Toro, you can ask us to contact the local taxi drivers to ask how much they will charge to drive you to Bajos del Toro. It depends on their availability if we'll be able to arrange you a ride.
How to get back to Grecia from Bajos del Toro?
Another important detail is that, once you're done with your visit, it can be a bit challenging to get out of Bajos del Toro with Uber. Since the area is so remote, there won't always be Uber drivers around to get you back to Grecia. You can ask the people who work at the waterfall if they know someone who'll be driving back to Sarchí or Zarcero or you can try o hitch-hike to Sarchí or Zarcero. If you manage to end up either in Sarchí or in Zarcero, you can easily make your way back to Grecia by public bus. Once in Sarchí or in Zarcero, the best thing you can do is to ask locals how to get to Grecia by bus. They'll be happy to help you out.
Cascadas Pozo Azúl
We start off with the place that has surprised us most until now... Cascadas Pozo Azúl. Unknown by the big crowd, but oh so beautiful! A clearly home-made sign points the way to the entrance of this impressive masterpiece of nature. You'll be welcomed by the friendly owners of this property and they charge a very reasonable price of only 3000 Colones (about $5) for the entry.
Along the main pathway there are 5 Costa Rican flags. Each of them marks a side path to a pool and/or waterfall. We recommend to start at the last flag... Take the exit and let yourself be surprised by a wonderful viewpoint. Witness a crystal blue river tip over the edge of a huge drop and convert itself into a wonderful white waterfall.
If you're in a good condition, hike down to the foot of the waterfall. It's quite a challenging descend! If you don't feel like hiking all the way down, don't worry. Cascadas Pozo Azúl is very worth a visit anyway.
On the way down to the foot of the waterfall, we saw monkeys and a lot of other interesting animals like insects, moths and lizards! It's quite a challenge but so worth it once you have arrived. Walk to the edge of the pool and experience the power of this huge waterfall or take a refreshing dip! The owners of this property told us that they reached the bottom of the waterfall in 2016, so you can imagine how special it is to be here.
Tip: always be careful where you place your hands! Along the way, there are several ropes to support yourself while walking down. Ants and other animals really like to use these ropes to walk their way through the jungle, but they don't like your hands to be in their way...
Avoid accidental bits by always being aware of where you're going to place your hands! This is not only an important thing to remember at Cascada Pozo Azúl, but this count for Costa Rica in general.
The walk up will be tough, but it's good to know that there's still a lot more natural beauty waiting for you at the top. On our way back, we couldn't resist the temptation to use the small hovering basket. it's a fun way to get back to the other side of the river. The owner told us that they actually had to install this basket for safety reasons. Sometimes the water level gets really high and then the basket is always there to ensure that there's always a safe way out.
Once back on the main path, following the signs and the other flags, you'll get to a couple of smaller waterfalls and crystal clear pools to take a swim and appreciate the nature that surrounds you... Enjoy!!
Catarata Tesoro Escondido
Are you up for a spectacular combination of refreshing natural pool, a mesmerizing waterfall and a hike to one of the best viewpoints Bajos del Toro has to offer? Than a visit to Tesoro Escondido is perfect for you! All these interesting sites are located on one enormous 'finca' and are connected by a well maintained path. The 10,5 kilometre hike is a bit tough though! To get to the viewpoint, you'll have to climb a steep hill with a total elevation gain of about 130 meters, but it's very worth the climb. Another plus is the big hanging bridge during the first part of the path! Tesoro Escondido combines all the popular attractions you want to encounter during a hike through Costa Rica.
For both nationals and international tourists, the entry fee costs 7000 colones (about $11). You can also choose for a package that includes breakfast, lunch or both. They also offer facilities like toilets and showers.
Finca Dos Rios
Finca Dos Rios is a gigantic private domain. The main trail leads to an area with two natural pools, a cave and three impressive waterfalls. Every 150 metres you'll encounter another fairy tale like spot to breath in the fresh air and to be surrounded by natural wonders. The entry fee is 5000 Colones per person.
The whole visit takes about 4 hour and the total hiking distance is about 9 kilometres. The hike is, compared to other places in Bajos del Torro, quite 'flat'. The total elevation gain is about 230 metres. The first part of the hike can be, depending on the weather conditions / season, quite muddy though which makes it a tougher exercise.
The owners of Finca Dos Rios are currently (September / October 2021) doing a lot of effort to improve the conditions of the path that leads to the entry. We also expect that they will eventually construct a road that leads to a parking place closer to the waterfalls.
Catarata del Toro
Catarata del Toro is located just a couple of kilometres outside of Bajos del Toro town. The intensity and diversity of the colours of the scenery surrounding this waterfall are just indescribable. Although the pictures down here can give you an idea of what this place looks like (you must actually see it with your own eyes!), it can't make you feel the overwhelming power of water tumbling down into an old volcanic crater. This place has a Jurassic Park feel. The leaves of a characteristic plant called 'Sombrilla de pobre' (or 'Poor man's umbrella' in English) shown in the pictures are - as you can see - about the size of a human being!
Be aware that the hike down to Catarata del Toro is a little challenging. The paths are well maintained, but it does takes some effort to get back to the entrance. The climb isn't too long though. Therefore, we would rate this hike intermediate. Getting all the way down to this unique waterfall is more than worth it though! This elevation chart gives you a better idea about the intensity of this hike:
A big plus about Catarata del Toro is the garden near the entrance. This garden is full of flowers, squirrels and… beautiful birds! The birds (among them a lot of hummingbirds) come very close to the area where you can sit down and have a coffee.
Catarata del Toro is part of the national park Juan Castro Blanco and is located on private terrain. There is plenty of space to park your car next to the entrance. Foreigners pay $14 entrance fee. Kids and 65+ pay $7. Costa Ricans pay about 4000 Colones. There is a combo-discount for tourists that also want to pay a visit to Cataratas ‘Las Gemelas’ (the twins). A combo-ticket for adults costs $25 and for kids / 65+ $12,50. Be aware that Catarata del Toro is closed on Sundays! Check out the website of Catarata del Toro for the most up-to-date information.
Catarata Río Agrio & Pozo Azul
Another great place to go to in Bajos del Toro is Catarata Río Agrio. It offers a 2 for 1 deal! You won’t only get to know a magnificent waterfall, but also a unique river that, through shaping impressive rock formations, formed natural swimming pools with amazing turquoise water.
The entrance to Catarata Río Agrio is located just a couple of kilometres north of Bajos del Toro town. There is a small restaurant where you have to pay the entrance fee. The staff will point you out where to go and arrange the pick-up for the natural pools. A combo-ticket for the waterfall and the natural pools costs about $9.
We would recommend to let it depend on the weather if you first visit the waterfall or the natural pools. Since you can swim in the natural pools, it’s advisable to go there while it’s sunny (which is more likely during the morning). Around the waterfall, you’ll get wet anyway because of the mist that this ‘beast’ is creating while tumbling down for about 100 meters.
Visit to the natural pools
From the parking lot of Catarata Río Agrio, you’ll be picked up with a pick-up truck that will bring you to the entrance of the natural pools (Pozo Azul) or you can walk for about 20 minutes to the entrance. The descend towards the natural pools is a bit challenging. A short but steep walk downwards over a well maintained path leads you to an amazing place…!
Get ready to swim and dive! It’s also a great place to sit down on the rocks, take some sun and perhaps have a nice picnic. It’s a natural playground!
Visit to Catarata Río Agrio
After your visit to the natural pools, it's time to get to know Catarata Rio Agrio. While approaching the waterfall, you may experience that your eyes get slightly irritated and that you can taste a sour flavour in the air. Since Río Agrio passes very near the slopes of Volcán Poás, the water contains certain minerals that cause this particular taste. Its name ‘Rio Agrio’ wasn’t chosen randomly, it literally means ‘Sour River’.
The hike towards Catarata Río Agrio is a lot less intense than other hikes in Bajos del Toro. The terrain is almost flat. Still you’ll need some physical condition to get there easily. The trail is mostly made out of rocks / stones. Some parts are paved / have man-made stairs. Other parts of the trail can be very muddy (especially during rainy season).
All the effort is well worth it though. The approach to Catarata Río Agrio is just like a fairy tale. The palms, moss, rock formations and finally the powerful waterfall raining down into the river: It’s nature at its best.
Bajos del Toro: What to take?
First of all: take your swim shorts and bikinis because you might want to take a dip! Perhaps you want to take a change of clothes and a small towel to dry yourself off after splashing in the water. Many places around Bajos del Toro have toilets or bathrooms where you can change or even take a quick, refreshing shower after bathing in the natural pools / waterfalls.
Especially during the rainy season, you’ll have to consider the possibility to get caught by the rain! Be aware that when it rains in Costa Rica it often pours down like crazy (you can be completely wet within 10 seconds) and that it often comes with thunder and lightning, so be prepared. We always go out with a rain coat and a waterproof bag to protect our electronic devices (mobile phones, camera…), our wallets and other valuables against the rain. To reduce the chance of getting wet, we advise you to go out early (the sun already rises around 5:15 am!). Since Bajos is located in the mountains, you should consider to take a sweater or warmer clothes with you.
Of course, it’s always a good idea to protect yourself against the sun (whether it is with sun screen or with protective clothes). Depending on the time of the year, you’ll also find it helpful to protect yourself from mosquitoes or other small insects that are eager to bite. Some clothing brands offer ‘insect bite proof’ fabrics. It’s a great way to protect yourself from getting bitten in a more sustainable and healthier way than to spray insects repellent on your skin. Always check yourself for ticks after a visit in a forestall area.
To hike comfortably around Bajos del Toro, we would advise to wear good hiking shoes or stable sport shoes with good profile on the soles. Another great option is to wear (or to additionally take) are water resistant (hiking) sandals. Also keep in mind that some trails can be really muddy (especially in the rainy season).
We personally also really like to take our binoculars. Apart from all this equipment it’s advisable to take water and a nice snack for the road or to have a nice picnic.