Updated: May 25
The Miravalles volcano is an inactive volcano located in the north-west of Costa Rica. But, there is one place near the volcano that still shows volcanic activity! At 'Las Hornillas' (translated: the small ovens), you can admire a true volcanic landscape. Smoke, colorful rock formations and bubbling volcanic mud: it's all included!
On the maps below, you can check out the exact location of this small hub. If you're thinking about heading from Mangífera Hostel, Grecia towards the beaches in the north-west of the Guanacaste province, Las Hornillas can be a very fun pit-stop along the road. To reach the beaches on the Pacific north coast of Costa Rica, you practically always have to pass through Liberia:
Tip: You can easily combine a visit to Las Hornillas with a stop at several nice sights around Liberia. We highly recommend you to have a unique experience at 'Catarata La Léona' (you have to swim through a turquoise blue river to get to this waterfall) or to pay a completely free visit to 'Posa La Pipa'.
Las Hornillas is about a 50 minute detour (one way) from the highway towards Liberia. Leave the highway at the town 'Bagaces' and head north:
It's better to take road number 164 through Guayabo, according to Google (date: 20/02/2021) the road through Fortuna (side note: this is not the town Fortune near volcán Arenál!) is blocked at the moment:
We really liked the 'Las Hornillas' experience for several reasons. First of all, it's a place that's accessible to 'the public'. In Costa Rica, most volcanic hot springs are located on hotel / resort owned properties and normally, you've got to pay a high entry price to enter these properties. To enter Las Hornillas, you only pay ₡4500 which is about $7,50.
And for that price, there are many nice things to see and do. First, you can walk through a volcanic landscape. If you like to take photos, you'll love all the different colours, structures, rock formations and smoke effects. On top of that, you immediately notice the calmness of this place. You're surrounded by vegetations, foresty hills and blooming flowers...
Besides admiring the stunning views, you can immerse yourself from top to bottom in a volcanic mud bath. Several mud pools provide more than enough exfoliating goodness to cover yourself and your whole family. After drying up in the plane sunlight, you'll all look like ancient Greek sculptures and it's time to take some funny photos to look back at with a smile on your faces!
A very important tip: Take into account that the bathing suits and towels that you use at Las Hornillas will have a very strong sulfuric smell (a bit like rotten eggs...) at the end of the afternoon. It's advisable to take a plastic bag with you, to keep your swimwear separate from the rest of you clothes. Wash these things separately! For us it worked to soak the bathing suits and towels in vinegar to get rid of the smell.
To turn back into a human being again, you just wash off all the mud and throw yourself into one of the natural hot springs:
And last but not least, you can experience a real natural sauna. The steam and the heat in this sauna come straight from the earth. And, like it should be done after a relaxing time in the sauna, it's time to jump into the cold water to cool down the body:
Well, this was a small recap of our lovely afternoon at Las Hornillas... We also saw that this sight offers hikes to a waterfall including hanging bridges, but by the time we were there, this part was closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. You could probably call to Las Hornillas to inform about the possibility to get to the waterfall and the current prices.
Have a great time!