Twice as tall as Niagra Falls – Catarta Del Toro Waterfall


When I (Hetty) lived in Japan, I used to plan weekend excursions to see more of the country. In a country where the signs are posted in Japanese (obviously) I often ended up somewhere far from where I planned to go so my mantra became “If you can’t get to where you’re going, go to where you are.” This has served us well here in Costa Rica. While a GPS is sometimes useful, it is not always totally reliable. This was the case when we set out to find the Peace Lodge and La Paz Waterfall Gardens on northeastern slope of the Poás Volcano. We thought we were getting close although we had no specific directions when the GPS told us to take a turn. Although it was counterintuitive, we had nothing else to go on so we decided to follow the GPS directions. As a result we found ourselves on the opposite side of the volcano, driving on some of the most twisty, steepest roads we have ever experienced. The scenery was stunningly beautiful and the air was crisp and cool. Terraced farms dotted the mountainside and the road took us almost to the top of this active volcano. (elevation: 2700 m.)  Just when we were wondering where we were and in need of a rest, we happened upon a beautiful compound with an open gate. We drove in and met, Donais, one of the owners. She informed us that they were closing in a few hours but we were welcome to go to the back garden and view the waterfall.

Because she was quite non-chalant, we had no idea of the wonder that awaited us. The Catarta Del Toro Waterfall must be one of the most impressive waterfalls of Costa Rica, throwing itself 300 ft into an old extinct volcanic crater. It is located in the unexplored mountains of Bajos del Toro Amarillo, Sarchi, just north of San José and right in between volcano Poás and National Parc Juan Castro Blanco.

Doanis and her Dutch husband, Wil have constructed an impressive series of concrete steps leading down about 2/3 of the way to the bottom of the waterfall. The climb reminded me of the time I climbed down the steps of the Eiffel Tower. The climb (up and down) was well worth the amazing sight of this spectacular waterfall.

When Donais told us that they had three rooms, we decided to stay for the night. By 7:00 pm we were asleep under our warm comforter as the air was actually very cool because of the mountain elevation. Besides a rude awakening during the night by a gang of Howler Monkeys we had a most wonderful sleep. We started the morning with a walk through the beautiful nature trail they created and returned to find a delicious breakfast waiting for us – included in the $50.00 room charge!

The drive back to Playa Hermosa was beautiful as it took us through the mountainous region between two National Parks. Along the way, we stopped in Zacero to view the sculpted gardens – a perfect end to an unexpected adventure.