Finding the Volio Waterfall


At the Volio Waterfall, cascading water spills into a shimmering pool.  The natural sanctuary provided by the surrounding rainforest is emerald and alive. Reaching the falls is one of those special, surreal moments that all travelers long for; finding the waterfall, however, is an adventure in itself.

The Volio waterfalls can be found hidden within the Bribri rainforest.  While there are many different tour companies offering guided trips to the falls, we decided, after much discussion, to make the trek without hiring a local guide.  After doing several other guided tours, we really wanted to do something that was more off the beaten path, and hunting for the famed falls seemed like an awesome opportunity for adventure.  We spent some time googling “Volio Waterfall”, and eventually found a link to a random travel forum, where people were giving directions.  We took a quick screenshot, and figured that it would be all we would need to find the elusive falls.

In retrospect, I will admit that we were a bit overly confident in our waterfall hunting capabilities.  Relying solely on such directions, especially since they were last updated in 2007, was probably not the best idea.  While they did point us in the right general direction, a lot of the other advice was outdated.  Hindsight, as always, is 20/20.

Thankfully, we are adventurous souls, and we were determined to find the falls, with or without directions.  We assumed that once we got in the general vicinity of the falls, we would see other people making the trek, and would be able to simply follow them or ask them for directions.  Unfortunately, this plan also failed, as we didn’t see a single other person during our journey.  We found ourselves in the middle of nowhere, questioning whether or not we were heading in the right direction, more than a few times during our adventure.

After driving through the town of Bribri, we arrived at the first river.  We knew from the somewhat sketchy directions that we would have to cross a river, but we were unsure about what to do with our car.  While there were no people to be seen, we thought that leaving the SUV on the side of the riverbank was a bad idea.  We had heard far too many stories about rental cars being targeted and stolen, and didn’t want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere without a vehicle.  After much discussion, we hopped out of the car to see how deep the river was.

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As it was pretty shallow, our solution was to simply drive across.  I am guessing that this would be a pretty terrible idea during rainy season.

After arriving safely on the other side, we were feeling pretty confident in our adventure skills… until we came to another river.  Our solution, once again, was to simply drive across.  A little further down, we hit another river.  This was a perfect time to reflect back on what a great idea it was to rent the SUV.

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After driving for a while longer down a winding jungle road, we spotted a sign in the trees.  The directions had said that the entrance to the falls could be difficult to spot without a guide, but we lucked out and found the sign straight away.

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Excited about our discovery, and feeling like true adventurers, we hopped out of our car and descended down the well beaten path to the water below.

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The area surrounding Volio Waterfall is beautiful and full of life.  Tall trees surround the rushing river, and smooth rocks provide perfect stepping stones across the water.  Small pools house tiny fish, and the chilly water provides a welcome relief from the Costa Rican heat.  We spotted colorful toucans and tiny lizards playing in the lush greenery, and there were lots of places for the little ones to splash around and explore.  One of the highlights of our explorations was discovering a big brown fishing spider, perched on the side of a rock, waiting to snag a passing meal.

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To get to the waterfall, you need to walk up stream a bit to where there is a fork in the river.  Follow the stream to the right – there is a well beaten trail on the left bank of that stream.  If you follow the sounds of the pounding water, you will eventually be led to the waterfall itself; the roar of the falls can be heard long before you can see it.  Rounding the corner, you will be rewarded with a stunning view of this cascading attraction, as it crashes 50 feet into the dazzling pool below. You can walk through the water and right up to the falls, and there is even a small pool underneath to swim in.

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Our afternoon at the falls is an experience we will always hold close to our hearts.  They may not be the easiest to get to, but they are well worth the journey.  If you have an SUV, getting to the falls is certainly doable without a guide.  Getting lost simply adds to the adventure.

Interested in more of our adventures in Costa Rica?  Check out the posts below!

Top Dining Destinations in Puerto Viejo

Feasting at the Farmer’s Market in Puerto Viejo

The Chocolate Forest Experience

Exploring Cahuita National Park

Zip Lining through the Jungle in Puerto Viejo

The Jaguar Rescue Center

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