Top 12 Facts About El Tigre Waterfalls Monteverde
Top 12 Facts About El Tigre Waterfalls
El Tigre Waterfalls is one of the most incredible adventure parks in Monteverde, Costa Rica. This place is tucked away on the outskirts of Monteverde, surrounded by beautiful nature with trails, waterfalls, and more.
As a seasoned travel planner and official partner, I’ve referred dozens of customers to El Tigre Waterfalls since they opened their doors in 2019. I’ve also witnessed firsthand how the park has evolved over the last few years, with its pros and cons.
In this post, I will share the seven facts, pros, and cons you should consider before visiting El Tigre Waterfalls. From how long it takes to how challenging the trails are, what you should wear to visit this magical natural paradise, and where to get your tickets.
I’ll also share my most recent experience visiting El Tigre Waterfalls with my family in September 2023. Since we had my then nine-year-old daughter and her cousin with us, we omitted the El Tigre Waterfalls Big Hike. Instead, we chose to do the milder version of the route, El Tigre Waterfalls Half-day Tour, which was less strenuous and included a horseback ride up the last climb of the adventure. We also added their newest attraction, the El Tigre Waterfalls Bicycle Zipline, mainly for the kids. And I’ll expand on all of this soon.
My goal is to give you an objective perspective from someone who lives in Monteverde, has visited El Tigre Waterfalls many times, and has valuable inside information you won’t find anywhere else.
Disclaimer: I’m not too fond of ads on educational pages like this one because it ruins the reader experience, so I keep my website ad-free. Instead of bugging you with ads and marketing pop-ups, I will include the direct links for booking your tickets at the bottom of this article. If you value the information I’m about to share, I would greatly appreciate it if you could use those links to book your tickets so I can earn a small commission at no additional cost. This way, you can conveniently get your tickets at the official retail price, and I can continue sharing unbiased, helpful information with the travel community with your support.
With this out of the way, we can start our in-depth review of El Tigre Waterfalls.
Let’s jump right in with a quick summary of the article:
Top 12 Facts About El Tigre Waterfalls:
- It’s best to visit during summer (Dec-Apr).
- El Tigre Waterfalls’ Trail is 8 km (5 mi) long.
- The first 5 km (3 mi) are downhill on uneven terrain.
- The last 3 km (1.5 mi) is a tough, long, strenuous, steep climb.
- You can do the entire 8 km (5 mi) on foot, taking about 5 hours.
- This option (“The Big Hike”) is only for adult, avid hikers.
- You can also do the first 5 km (3 mi) on foot and the rest on horses.
- This second option is less strenuous and suitable for kids seven and up.
- The course includes four mid-size waterfalls and ten hanging bridges.
- The scenery is stunning, with potential wildlife sights.
- You can swim in the river (there are multiple natural pools).
- [2023 Update] New shorter experience called “Bike Zipline.”
Now that you know the core facts, I will expand on them throughout the article. For a more reader-friendly, instead of going one by one, I’ll combine a few of them into each section, as many of them relate to each other. I will also match the above facts with my last visit to El Tigre Waterfalls to give you more context using my experience as an example.
How Long Is the El Tigre Waterfalls Hike?
El Tigre Waterfalls Hike is 8 kilometers long (5 miles); on average, it takes 4 to 5 hours to complete at a moderate speed. The trail’s first 5 km (3 mi) is downhill*, on an uneven, natural track with ten hanging bridges and four mid-size waterfalls along the well-marked course. The second part of the trail is a 3-kilometer (1.9 mi) long and steep climb.
El Tigre Waterfalls has two primary modalities. You can do the complete hike on foot, called El Tigre Waterfalls Big Hike, or you can do the El Tigre Waterfalls Half-day Tour, which is significantly less strenuous as you only do the first part of the trip (the downhill) on foot, and the rest of it on a horse. We opted for the latter because we had two kids with us.
*Note: Even though the first part of the trail is mostly downhill, it’s moderately technical, with sharp rocks, slippery terrain, and no handlebars for support. It’s rustic and natural, which is excellent for connecting with nature genuinely, but it can be challenging if you lack experience hiking on technical surfaces. Thus, you still must be a relatively experienced hiker to go on this adventure, even if you choose to do the half-day tour, skipping the long, steep climb.
Tip: The El Tigre Waterfalls’ trail starts at reception, where you can take a picture of the map. I recommend you do this, as having the map on your phone or camera will help you understand where you are as you reach each waterfall.
In the past, they would give you a printed map; however, they stopped printing maps in 2021, which is better for the environment as we move into a more digital, less paper-based world, so don’t forget to photograph their map before starting the course.
El Tigre Waterfalls Map
How Many Waterfalls Can You See at El Tigre Waterfalls?
There are four main waterfalls you can see at El Tigre Waterfalls Monteverde. However, during the rainy months between May and November, you may see up to ten waterfalls as the heavy rain forms new waterfalls along the way.
The four main waterfalls are between 15 and 30 meters tall (50 to 100 feet). And even though they are far smaller than what you would find in other waterfall sites in Costa Rica, such as La Paz Waterfalls, they’re still gorgeous.
“El Tigre Waterfall” is the principal waterfall on the course, and this beautiful 30-meter drop (100 feet) is visible year-round. However, its breathtaking, monumental force is more prominent during the rainy months.
Here are two pictures of “El Tigre Waterfall,” one taken from the balcony and the other from the base of the trail. I’ve been to this place many times, and these two photos are from our most recent trip in September 2023, when I took my daughter and her cousin for the first time with us.
Since the hike is reasonably technical and relatively long, I recommend it for seven-plus kids. Camila, my daughter, and Said, her cousin, were nine when we made this trip, and fatigue was starting to overwhelm them when we reached the last waterfall. Luckily, we chose the half-day tour instead of the big hike, so the trekking ended right there, where we jumped on horses for the final part of the trip.
Can You Swim in El Tigre Waterfalls?
You can swim at El Tigre Waterfalls Monteverde. Several areas have small natural pools along the river, and the trail connects with them on multiple occasions, making them accessible. On the other hand, the river’s water level is relatively low. Thus, if you’re 1.80 cm tall like me (5’9), the river’s water will generally not pass your chest.
Note: Since the river’s water level is low and considering there are plenty of big rocks on it, you will probably not swim like you would in an artificial pool. Instead, you should expect to be able to immerse yourself in the water rather than floating around.
Another aspect to consider is that depending on what you’re used to, the temperature of the water might be too cold for you. Monteverde has an average temperature of 23°C (74°F), so the water temperature is much lower at around four degrees Celsius (39°F).
From my experience, having visited El Tigre Waterfalls many times, jumping in the river can be a refreshing experience to recharge energy spent on the hike during the hotter months, January through April). Otherwise, during the cooler months, from May through December, it can be a freezing experience, but you’re welcome to give it a shot.
When is the Best Time to Visit El Tigre Waterfalls?
As you can read in my post “The Best Times to Visit Monteverde, Costa Rica,” the best time to visit El Tigre Waterfalls is from December through April, the summertime in Costa Rica. During these months, the days are mostly sunny with a gentle cool breeze and an average temperature of 22°C (72°F). As mentioned above, this is also the best time to swim in the river.
The second-best time to visit El Tigre Waterfalls in Monteverde is from May through August and November when the rain is not so heavy. As mentioned above, this is the best time to see the formation of more than the regular four waterfalls.
On the other hand, September and October are the least recommended months to visit El Tigre Waterfalls Monteverde. The rainfall during these two months is significantly higher, as are the chances of heavy storms. Furthermore, the trail becomes extra slippery and potentially dangerous, especially if you lack experience hiking on technical terrain.
What Should You Wear at El Tigre Waterfalls?
You should wear comfortable clothing and shoes at El Tigre Waterfalls in Monteverde. Your wearable items should include light hiking pants, a breathable base layer, and a pair of hiking shoes with good traction for technical terrain.
And you will want to dress appropriately for the season. For example, during the warmer months, from January through April, you will want to wear shorts, sleeveless shirts, and sunglasses. Additionally, you must use bug spray and sun protection, even if the day seems partially clouded. Likewise, from May through December, you should carry long pants, a light rain jacket or a poncho, and hiking boots with extra grip to gain traction on the slippery terrain.
On the other hand, you should avoid bringing jeans and warm, 100% cotton-made clothes as they will give you a suffocating feeling as your body temperature rises along with high humidity. Likewise, it would be best to avoid regular sneakers, as they can be tricky on the slippery trail. And don’t bring sandals as they will destroy your feet and can easily cause an accident on the technical terrain.
Since I’ve been to El Tigre Waterfalls many times before, it’s easy to forget the basics, and sometimes, I have to remind myself of what I need to bring to avoid the pitfalls above. The last time we visited, I forgot about this and got a 100% cotton-made sweater, and I paid the price. It felt humid and hot, then it started raining, and it felt cold. A rain jacket is a must if you travel during the rainy season.
For more helpful information on what to bring to Monteverde, please refer to my article, “Ten Things You Must Bring to Monteverde, Costa Rica.”
How Much Does It Cost to Enter El Tigre Waterfalls?
As mentioned above, El Tigre Waterfall offers three modalities:
The first includes a unique, three-zipline ziplining course and a Safari ride. It lasts about 1.5 hours and costs between $30 and $35 per person, plus taxes. The second option is the half-day tour, which includes a 5-km (3 mi) downhill hike, a 30-minute horseback ride, and a delicious lunch, which costs between $56 and $66 per person, plus takes. The third option is the big hike, which only includes the entrance fee to do the entire 8-km (5 mi) course on foot and costs between $22 and $33 per person, plus taxes.
If you’re doing the half-day tour, like we did on our last visit, then once you check-in, you can choose whether you’d like the 30-minute horse ride or a 10-minute Safari car ride. My family and I had done the horses before, so this last visit, we decided to try the Safari car, an old, unique Land Rover bumpy as can be up the hill while we enjoyed the ride and the views.
[2023 Update] El Tigre Waterfalls Bicycle Zipline
El Tigre Waterfalls recently implemented a new experience called the Bike Zipline, a one-of-a-kind, three-zipline course where you pedal your way through each zipline on a bicycle attached to the cables.
We decided to give a try to this new adventure and while I didn’t find it as thrilling as other ziplining tours in Monteverde, my daughter and her cousin had a perfect time as they soared 70 meters above ground level (230 feet) for a total of 500 meters of zip-cycling adventure (1,640 feet). Here you can watch my “little one” doing this:
As with the other two services offered by El Tigre Waterfalls, they require a reservation, as they limit the number of people who can enter the park daily, so make sure to book ahead of time to secure your spots.
How to Make Reservations for El Tigre Waterfalls
As mentioned in the intro, I’m an official partner with El Tigre Waterfalls, and my website is connected to their reservation system, so if this post helped you decide which of the three experiences you’d like to try, you can use the following direct links to see their availability and make your reservations.
You can pay via Apply Pay, Google Pay, or a Credit or Debit Card. You can cancel online with a flexible cancellation policy, so you get a full refund if you cancel at least 24 hours before your tour day.
Once you make your reservation, you will instantly get a confirmation email with the instructions and map to get to El Tigre Waterfalls, unless you add transportation, in which case, you will get a follow-up email telling you what time they will pick you up at your hotel/Airbnb.
Direct Links to Book El Tigre Waterfalls
- Book El Tigre Waterfalls Bicycle Zipline
- Book El Tigre Waterfalls Half-day Tour
- Book El Tigre Waterfalls Big Hike
Here’s the end of this article. Thank you for reading this far, and feel free to share this info with fellow travelers as you deem appropriate. Happy travels and ¡Pura Vida, amigos!
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About the Author
I am the founder of Monteverde Tours. I live in Monteverde and love nature, adventure, and Mountain Biking. My partner and I love spending time outdoors and dining in Monteverde. We have more than 30 years of combined experience in the area, and there is no park, coffee shop, or restaurant we haven’t tried at least once!
We love helping visitors and connecting them with the different tours and activities for a memorable experience in Monteverde.
If you need help planning things to do in the area, message us, and we will happily assist you!