El Tigre Waterfalls

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El Tigre Waterfalls

Hola ๐Ÿ‘‹

The El Tigre Waterfalls and nature park were the highlight of our last trip to Monteverde. It was on my short list of activities, and I’m so happy we made it work the morning we departed before heading to Paquera by way of the Puntarenas Car Ferry.

In our guide, you’ll find info on how to get to the falls, reserve tickets, and what to expect along the way. Let’s go!

El Tigre Waterfalls
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A highlight of Monteverde

Getting to El Tigre Falls


The El Tigre Falls are located about 30 minutes outside of Monteverde and Santa Elena. The Google Maps directions below highlight the route. Cell service is patchy along the way, but there are numerous signs that tell you when and where to turn. It’s pretty straightforward so follow the dirt road for 30 minutes and enjoy the view.

El Tigre Road Signs
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Follow the black and orange El Tigre signs

The Ticket Office

Finally… the ticket office. Follow the marked signage to where to park and head into the office to check in. Did you make a reservation? We didn’t, but we got there at 8am and there were the first ones there. The parking lot was packed when we got back, so we recommend making reservations.

There are a few different options for hiking and other optional activities.

Hiking Options:

  • Hike In and hike out
  • Hike in and ride horses out
  • Hike in and take a 4×4 shuttle out

Optional Activities:

  • Zip Lining
  • Zip Line Biking – yeah it’s as crazy as it sounds

We opted to hike in and and take the 4×4 out because we were a little pressed on time. And also I just love riding in 4x4s. The ticket office also has bathrooms and lockers if you need to store anything before the descent.

El Tigre Falls Office
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Finally got there

The El Tigre Ticket Office
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Check in at the counter

The Hike Down

The hike is 8KM round trip if you go all in. The first 1.5KM is steep downhill terrain, and it’s often muddy and slippery with the frequent rain. Be sure you’re up for it because there’s no emergency route back up to the office. You’re either going all the way, or you’re walking back up the hill.


Good To Know

Bring sturdy shoes with good traction. Otherwise you’ll be gambling with an ankle sprain.

Hiking trail in El Tigre
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Slow and steady

Hiking trail in El Tigre
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Viewpoint right, trail left

In case of emergency

We have data roaming in Costa Rica, and neither of our phones had cell service during the hike. It was amazing. But you’re pretty deep in the wilderness, so what if something goes wrong and you need to call for help?

You’ll see 4 yellow aid boxes throughout the hike. Inside is a waterproof case with a radio that you can use to call the office if there’s an emergency. They go over this at check-in before the hike starts. Be sure to ask any questions about the radios because you’ll be on your own out there. We always recommend affordable travel insurance if you’ll be doing anything with this activity level.

The emergency radio station
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The first aid box

Waterfall hike map
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Elevation level in bottom corner

Exploring the Park

This is the fun part. Even though it’s an 8KM self-guided walk, it’s hard to get lost with all of the signage. Take your time and enjoy tons of waterfalls, suspension bridges, and dip pools.ย 

Capacity sign
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Watch the old wood planks

Suspension bridges
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An empty hike

Swimming in the pools

You can swim in the pools under the bigger waterfalls, but the more relaxing pools are about .5KM after the last waterfall. Don’t forget a quality daypack and quick-dry towel.

Natural swimming pools
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A cool dip on a hot day

Our Nomadix towel
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Our new favorite quick-dry towel

Returning to the office

You’ll have a a few different options for making your way back up the hill, and you would have already paid for the specific method when you checked in earlier. What’s nice about choosing the full walk option is that you can add the horseback riding and 4×4 shuttle later and then pay the difference when you get back.

I love riding in 4x4s and we were crunched on time. Otherwise we would have hiked back up.ย 

The El Tigre Shuttle
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Always a fun time in a 4×4

Optional Activities

The optional activities include zip lining, a bicycle zip line, and having lunch at their restaurant in the main building.

The biking seemed a little overhyped, and if you’re going to zip line in Monteverde, we recommend going with 100% Aventura. They are located about half way back in to town so you could go on the 8am zip line tour with them, and be done at 10am to head over to El Tigre after.

El Tigre Restaurant
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Local food and a good view

Tips for El Tigre Waterfalls

Arrive early or late

Plan to start your hike early or late to avoid the crowds and enjoy the falls. We got here without a reservation right at 8am and didn’t have any trouble getting in. We still recommend reservations because it filled in quickly and we would have been so sad to miss out on this.

Judge your physical ability

The initial 1-kilometer hike down was tough, and we were prepared for it. Anna slipped and tweaked her ankle in the first 20 minutes. Make sure you’re up for it and consider affordable trip insuranceย if you have any doubts about the safety of your planned activities.

Don’t forget the essentials

Expect to see mosquitos, so pack your day bag with a good insect repellant, reef-safe sunscreen, plenty of water, and snacks for your visit.

Bring The Right Footwear

Sturdy hiking shoes or sandals with good traction are essential for this hike. I love my Salomon Hiking Shoes that I bring on every trip.

Practice sustainable tourism

There are no trash cans when hiking El Tigre, so anything you bring in must return with you. We didn’t see one piece of trash in the park, so let’s keep it that way.

Let’s go!

Exploring the El Tigre Hiking Trail and Waterfalls should be on your list of must-do activities when you’re visiting Monteverde and Santa Elena.ย 

Don’t miss our full guide to Monteverde and drop us a comment below if you have any questions.

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Cody & Anna

Cody and Anna Traxler

Weโ€™re Cody and Anna, and weโ€™ve fallen in love with Costa Rica over the past decade. Weโ€™re not experts in every part of the country, but our countless adventures have inspired us to create this travel guide. Our goal is to share our experiences and help you jet off on your own unforgettable journey. Enjoy Ultimate Pura Vida and start planning here ๐Ÿค™

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