Ready for an easy day trip from San Jose? Go to Los Chorros in Grecia!
I’ve taken a few day trips to waterfalls in the Central Valley and Los Chorros is one of my favorite waterfalls. I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I went for the first time, so here’s a suggested packing list:
-Quick dry clothing / shoes
-Water shoes (or just tennis shoes that you don’t mind getting wet)
-Waterproof bag / cell phone cover (We survived just fine without a waterproof bag, but if I go back I’ll probably bring one just in case.)
-Bottle of water
Time to arrive: 1.5 hours
Cost: 3,000 colones for parking
We left San Jose around 8:30am and drove for about 1.5 hours to get there. It is a really easy drive, any car can get there.
NOTE: On the way to the waterfall, you will see three different signs that say that Los Chorros is temporarily closed. However it IS in fact open. The signs are old. The signs almost convinced us to turn around and go home. The internet encouraged us to check it out, however, so we pulled up into the parking lot and it was open! The super-friendly parking attendant immediately assured us that the waterfalls were open and safe to hike to.
NOTE 2: If you are planning your visit during the rainy season (April-November), it might not be open. Luckily we went at the beginning of January, so the conditions were excellent.
As soon as we parked and got out of the car, we were greeted by a gorgeous view of the Central Valley. The weather could not have been more perfect. We took a minute to enjoy the clear blue sky over the mountains before we got started.
We did not have to pay to get in. We just paid 3,000 colones for parking when we left.
The parking attendant lead us to the trail and told us to follow it all the way down to the falls. The hiking trail is pretty short, all downhill and doable for any age.
The trail was really beautiful. You follow a dirt staircase into the canopy. In one step you go from baking under the sun, to being completely shielded by the canopy. As you walk along the trail you start to hear the waterfalls and can even get a glimpse of one through the trees.
After 10 minutes or so we came across a nice picnic area that overlooks a small river. There are tables and garbage cans available. Once you cross through the picnic area you see the first (and largest) waterfall.
It’s pretty shocking when you first see it. I was ecstatic; I’m from South Dakota and we do not have anything like Los Chorros there.
A Reflective Moment
I live in San Jose, which is a pretty stressful place to live. It’s easy to forget how amazing Costa Rica is when you live in a crowded, polluted city with a growing crime rate. It’s also easy to get stuck there and not take advantage of all the incredible destinations just minutes from the city. I’ve met many Ticos who tell me that I’ve seen more of Costa Rica in 2.5 years than they’ve seen in their entire lives.
Finding places like Los Chorros keeps me sane. When we arrived I felt a weight lift off my shoulders and remembered why living in Costa Rica is so special.
You have to cross the river and climb over some fallen tree logs to get to the waterfall. Just go for it and get your feet wet right away. Don’t try and avoid stepping directly into the river or you’ll just fall. Don’t be scared to climb on all fours and scoot along on your butt either. It doesn’t look very graceful, but it’s better (and less painful) than falling.
We sat under the first waterfall for a while as more and more people began to arrive. Some people brought pets, others brought snacks and alcohol. Both are great options in my opinion. There were a lot of kids there too, and it was totally safe for them. I would just recommend good water shoes and a towel because it was a bit slippery and cold if you weren’t in the sun.
Hiking to the Second Waterfall
After about an hour we decided to hike to the second waterfall. I entertained some Ticos by stumbling clumsily from my spot under the waterfall to the rock you have to climb to get to the second waterfall. It was a lot of dramatic arm swinging, swearing and balancing on sharp rocks. Don’t be like me and DO bring water shoes.
After you climb up the rock mentioned above, you’ll follow the shallow river until you get to the next waterfall. It’s only about 5-7 minutes away.
The second waterfall is shorter, but much more intense. “Los chorros” means “the jets’ in English and you begin to understand the name when you reach the second waterfall. You can’t really swim underneath it because the wind created by the falling water is too strong, but there are some comfortable rocks to lounge and take pictures on. We sat for a while and watched a cute family have a blast trying to swim under the waterfall, only to be blown back to the shallow water immediately.
After 30 minutes or so, around 11am, we decided to hike back to the first waterfall. Between 10am and 11am the waterfall got really crowded. There were families having lunch on pretty much every available surface. It wasn’t overwhelming or anything, but I advise getting there early if you want any ounce of solitude.
We didn’t pack a lunch so we decided to head back and find some coffee and a casado in the center of Grecia. The hike back up was steep, but totally doable for any able-bodied person.
The view at the top of the hike was incredible; I think I enjoyed it as much as the waterfalls.