Montezuma Falls, Costa Rica


The temperatures already rising, we walk along the dirt road in search of the trail to Montezuma Falls, one of the most famous waterfalls in Costa Rica.

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The road from downtown to our Hotel La Cascada, Montezuma
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A land crab along the road to the Montezuma Falls trail

Montezuma Falls consists of three separate waterfalls. The first waterfall is the tallest and is reached, according to locals, by hiking up the river for about twenty minutes. We quickly learned in Costa Rica twenty minutes is the estimated time for almost everything and rarely accurate. The path to the second and third waterfalls begins by climbing up an extremely steep bank with the assistance of tree roots. We plan to only visit the first waterfall.

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Views along the road to the Montezuma Falls trail

Initially walking past the trail, we enjoy spotting wildlife and the views of the ocean along the road.

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Entrance to the Montezuma Falls trail

Retracing out steps, a man introduces himself as a guide pointing to his hat displaying the handwritten word Guide on the front. We thank him for sending us in the right direction but decline any further assistance. Seeing the Free Waterfall sign leaning against a tree we understand how we missed the entrance.

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Montezuma Falls Trail

Only a few minutes down the trail we see a small group huddled around a bush. Looking closely, a bright green snake is in the middle of consuming a bird.

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Montezuma Falls
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Montezuma Falls

Following a few stragglers ahead, we climb over the large, slippery rocks jutting out from the brown river water. As we continue our climb the rocks above water become less abundant, requiring us to retrace our steps and cross back and forth between the river banks to continue moving forward.

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Montezuma Falls
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Montezuma Falls

An army of large red ants crawl single file along the branches and lizards bask in the small patches of sunlight. Thick, intertwined tree roots cover the banks requiring us to carefully place each step.

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Montezuma Falls

As the bank grows steeper, we encounter a thinning nylon rope to assist us in our climb along the river.

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Montezuma Falls

Only when necessary, we carefully place our hands on rocks or vines. Taking a step, I slip and grab a vine to prevent from falling into the murky water. We hold our breath as the tree slowly becomes still again and let out a sigh of relief I didn’t wake any sleeping reptiles.

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The first of three waterfalls at Montezuma Falls

At last we reach the first waterfall. Seeing the color of the water we opt out of swimming in the pool. Meeting our G Adventures group at Hotel La Cascada for surfing lessons at noon, we enjoy the sight for only a few minutes before beginning the tedious climb back.

Midway through our return hike, we hear voices above us. Carefully climbing up the steep bank, we emerge onto a small dirt path. Enjoying a much easier return hike, the unmarked trail ends abruptly along the river. Climbing once again over the large boulders we emerge near the road.

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A White-Throated Magpie-Jay at Restaurant Montezuma

Glad to be out of the river, we walk into town for a quick lunch. While enjoying our sandwiches at Restaurant Montezuma, a White-Throated Magpie-Jay lands on the table next to us to finish another diner’s french fries. Nearing 12:00pm we return to the hotel for our first surfing lessons.

* For more information on our tour check out: G Adventures Costa Rica on a Shoestring.

  1. Day 1: Fly into San José
  2. Day 2: San José travel to La Fortuna
  3. Day 3: La Fortuna
  4. Day 4: La Fortuna travel to Montezuma
  5. Day 5: Montezuma
  6. Day 6: Montezuma
  7. Day 7: Montezuma travel to San José
  8. Day 8: Fly out of San José

April 2018


Author: The Traveling Gingerbread

My fiancé, Mitch, and I have been traveling together over four years. Living and working full-time in Pittsburgh, PA, we travel as much as our vacation days and finances allow. We cram each adventure with activities, tours, and experiences to maximize our time. Any time we travel, we try to visit to a local brewery and can't walk by an Irish pub without stopping in for a pint of Guinness. 
 In Tokyo, we laughed every time we saw someone talking on their large, animated phone case. We had to buy one. Having an obsolete IPhone 5, the selection was limited. We purchased a gingerbread off a neglected rack in Shinjuku, Tokyo and The Traveling Gingerbread was born. You can purchase your own adorable gingerbread friend here! The Traveling Gingerbread is an entertaining account of our travels, fun facts, and tips we learned along the way.

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