Catarata del Toro is a beautiful waterfall in Costa Rica where the water pours down into an extinct volcanic crater. This private ecological reserve is surrounded by wonderful lush jungle with four fantastic viewpoints and many different trees, flowers and birds to see. You can see Catarata del Toro already after a few minutes of walking into the reserve from a higher perspective. But if you want to feel its real power, then hike down to the base of the 90 meters high Catarata del Toro waterfall. In this complete guide you’ll find all you need to know including our pictures and experience of visiting this immense waterfall in Bajos del Toro, Costa Rica.
About Catarata del Toro
Being one of the best and most beautiful waterfalls in Costa Rica, you can’t miss visiting Catarata del Toro during your trip. The name of this waterfalls comes from the fact that the Toro river feeds the waterfall. Toro means bull, and if you’re standing in front of the powerful waterfall you totally understand where the name is coming from!
Another fun fact is that the waterfall pours down into an extinct volcanic crater. Along the cliff wall you can see the beautiful red orange earthy colors created by the volcanic activity many years ago.
Not only the waterfall itself but also the canyon where the river continues is so beautiful. You really feel in the middle of nature, while it’s only a 20-30 minute hike down to the base of the waterfall.
Run by a Dutch – Costa Rican couple, we had a nice chat with the Dutch owner of the property who is originally from a town in the Netherlands not very far away from where we’re coming from. Super nice to hear the stories of other Dutchies that decided to live abroad. Especially when they started such a nice eco project like this!
Where is Catarata del Toro
The best way in general to get around in Costa Rica is by renting a car. So naturally the best way to get to Catarata del Toro is with your car. There is no public transport going to Bajos del Toro and a taxi is expensive. Catarata del Toro is easy to find on every navigation system and the road towards the waterfall are paved, so you don’t need a 4×4.
Located in Bajos del Toro, the waterfall is about a 1.5 hour drive from San Jose. It is highly recommend to stay near or in Bajos del Toro as there are plenty of day trips to do in the close surroundings. The El Silencio lodge for example is one of the more luxury accommodations to stay in this area.
You can easily combine a stay in Bajos del Toro with visiting Poas volcano and the other waterfalls in Bajos del Toro. This area is a perfect stop when you’re on your way to La Fortuna from San Jose.
Opening times and entrance fee Catarata del Toro
The opening times for Catarata del Toro are Monday to Saturday from 7 AM to 5 PM. On Sundays the reserve is closed.
Entrance fee to Catarata del Toro is $14. If you want to visit the Blue Falls as well, then you can buy the combination ticket which is $25. Ask for the possibility of this tour as well up front, as you are getting a better deal purchasing the combo ticket. However, during and after rainfall, the river can get too high at the Blue Falls which makes it impossible to visit them. In that case you can only visit Catarata del Toro.
Best time to visit Catarata del Toro
The best months to visit Catarata del Toro are January until April as they are usually the driest months in this area. But even in these dry months you can expect some rain as the reserve is located in the rainforest on about 1000 meters in elevation.
When we visited Catarata del Toro in March, we got a huge shower, but that didn’t stop us from exploring! It actually created a very mystical and moody vibe which we love for capturing waterfalls. The sun usually blows out the whites in the waterfall too much when the sun is too bright. So we didn’t complain at all. However be prepared for rain in every month in Costa Rica. Bring a rain jacket or poncho just in case. The most rainfall in Bajos del Toro can be expected in June and October. However that means the waterfall will be super powerful! Every disadvantage has its advantage.
What to expect at Catarata del Toro
After the warm welcome at the entrance, it’s time to hike down to the base of Catarata del Toro. As soon as you walk in the garden, you will see the impressive 90 meters tall waterfall pouring down the rocks. Surrounded by nature you will soon forget that you just came of a paved road as it feels as if you’re deep in the rainforest.
Hiking through the lush and very well maintained botanical garden of the Catarata del Toro reserve is a joy for all your senses. You can see, smell and feel the forest as you pass a very old tree, beautiful flowers and the many hummingbirds that live in the forest. Especially close to the restaurant you can see many hummingbirds!
The viewpoints at Catarata del Toro along the hike down
The first viewpoint you encounter is only a few steps away from the entrance. This is the highest viewpoint that overlooks the waterfall and gives you a good impression of how the extinct volcanic crater was formed. The name of this viewpoint is ‘El Toro’.
From here you can also see the lush rainforest in the far distance. It had just been raining when we arrived so the steam coming from the trees was unbelievable pretty!
The second viewpoint is worth a stop as well. Here you are standing right in front of the waterfall but still on a higher altitude, so you can take in its height and power before the decline to the base starts.The name of this viewpoint is ‘El Palomar’.
The trails at Catarata del Toro are well maintained and a combination of concrete stairs and dirt path. It is important to bring good shoes so you have enough grip and stability when hiking down. The trail is well signed in blue that points towards the waterfall and green that marks the route of the garden.
Hiking down to the base of Catarata del Toro
It will take you anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes to get down to the base of the waterfall. The total round trip is 3.5 kilometres so not too long, but you will feel the incline on the way back. The first part of the trail has a little descent, but as soon as you reach the concrete stairs it will get heavier for the knees. Especially on the way back when you have to climb the stairs it will feel like a real work out! With more than 350 steps to conquer, you will be rewarded with some amazing views of Catarata del Toro from its base. But before you reach the bottom, you will first get to the third viewpoint with benches where you can rest. This viewpoint is called ‘La Vistada’. When you make your way further down, then be careful with the last steps going down to the fence of the waterfall. Because of the spray it can be slippery here, so watch your step!
It’s so impressive to stand close to this powerful waterfall with the beautiful rainforest surrounding the crater. It makes you feel small and respect the beauty of mother nature even more. A very unique experience and one you have to visit when traveling in Costa Rica.
You can’t swim in the pool at Catarata del Toro as the current is too strong. But if you do want to swim near waterfalls then go to the Blue Falls which is from the same owner as well. Ask for the combo ticket at the entrance if you want to visit both waterfalls.
What to prepare before visiting Catarata del Toro
Be prepared for all sorts of weather circumstances in this area, even in the drier months. So bring the following things for a visit:
Hiking shoes or sneaker with good grip
Rainjacket or poncho
Snacks or a proper lunch as there is not much to find in the near surroundings. It’s also not guaranteed that the restaurant of the property is open
More Costa Rica travel inspiration
I hope you enjoyed this blog post about Catarata del Toro in Costa Rica.
For more travel inspiration about Costa Rica, have a look at our other Costa Rica travel guides.