Saturday, June 14, 2014

Rincón National Park

As El Sol Verde was such a nice place to stay, we decided to use it as a base to explore the surrounding area. There is a lot to see, everything from the Rincón National park to the Papagayo Gulf is within easy reach. We also took a trip further east into the mountains and discovered something I didn't know about Costa Rica: Thermal Energy!

Rincón National Park is literally 15 minutes away on a mostly good gravel road. Mostly at it has a couple of sections where high ground clearance is recommended. The park itself is volcanic. Most of Costa Rica is volcanic but here it's more visible. Boiling mud pools, hissing holes in the ground and that typical smell make it into a true Rotorua, New Zealand Experience. I'm not sure which is 'bigger' if that's the word for it. Rotorua is certainly more tourism developed. Quite amazing also was the enormous amount of dragonflies in bright colours and various sizes. Mike spend quite a bit of time 'catching' them with his camera! 

Despite being a National Park and thus being a protected area, there is also a geothermal project operating in the foothills of the park. Simply put, geothermal energy is used to produce electricity. When finished the project will supply 95.000 households with green energy. I had been amazed already about Nicaragua's amount of green generated electricity, but here they are even pioneering new technology.
Of course there are people who don't want anything done in a National Park, which is understandable as the function of a National Park is to preserve what is there. At the same time it would be rather foolish to preserve the National Park but pollute the area around it, when clean energy can be obtained by drilling a couple of holes in the ground!

Having been in the Rincón National Park I can only applaud the engineers and designers involved in the project as they have not intruded the park and yet manage to supply 95.000 households with power! How new the process is was demonstrated when the initial trial was started up and the project literally blew to pieces… it generated far more electricity than anyone had imagined :-)

Gerard from El Sol Verde had suggested to walk anti-clockwise through the park and I'm glad we did. It meant the last part of the walk was downhill and in a shady forest, rather than uphill in an open field. Bring sturdy footwear and water, but do the walk as it is certainly worth it!

I've said it before, the Pan American Highway is boring. However, if you go east on the 164, just south of Liberia,  you'll find a beauty of a road. It takes you past small farms on a winding road through a developed but nice area. By developed I mean farming. Around Fortuna there is more evidence of geothermal energy. 65.000 Households are supplied with electricity generated by steam from a 4700 mtr long pipe which is 30 mtrs deep in the ground. The steam is fed to two steamturbines which are half buried into the ground to minimise visual impact.

Next on the list is Volcan Arenal… and a 125cc road race in Costa Rica style!