Hiking the El Tigre waterfalls in Monteverde, Costa Rica, is an exhilarating adventure that offers stunning views of the surrounding jungle, several cascading waterfalls, and rushing rivers. If you’re in Monteverde and want a half-day of chasing waterfalls, this is the spot!
Depending on your hiking speed, the trail is a little over 2 miles long and takes about 2.5 hours to complete. Here’s what you need to know before tackling the El Tigre Waterfalls hike.
El Tigre Waterfalls Hike—What You Need to Know!
How to Get to El Tigre Waterfalls
El Tigre Waterfalls is located about 6 miles outside of Monteverde, Costa Rica. Unless you have your own car, you’ll need to take the provided shuttle (recommended) or hire a taxi.
If you’re taking the shuttle, the first one leaves Monteverde at around 7:30 am, so it’s recommended to take this one to beat the crowds—this is the one I did and nearly had the hike to myself!
Here are the shuttle hours:
7:30 am (returns at 12:30)
9:30 am (returns at 2:30)
11:00 am (returns at 4:00)
The provided shuttle costs $10 round-trip and takes about 30 minutes to get to the waterfalls. They also pick you up from your hotel, which is a big bonus. You can make a reservation through El Tigre Monteverde for your tickets and the shuttle.
If you’re hiring a taxi, the cost will be higher, but you’ll have more flexibility regarding when you can go and leave.
How Much is El Tigre Waterfalls?
Adults are $29 USD to get into El Tigre and do the loop hike. Don’t forget the extra $10 for the round-trip shuttle if you need it!
It will cost you more if you want to zipline or horseback ride (more on this in a sec).
I know, I know, kind of steep for a hike, but I will say, the place is immaculate, the trails were in good condition, there are safety checkpoints, the suspension bridges can’t be cheap to upkeep, and I got some much-needed coffee before the hike and lots of fresh juice for after!
If you’re over the insane price, take a breath, and we’ll continue…
Arriving at El Tigre Waterfalls
After arriving by whichever mode of transport you’ve chosen, you’ll get to the El Tigre Waterfall Center, where you’ll pay for your ticket and whichever adventures you want to go on. You’ll then be handed a map to take a picture of and an explanation of the hike.
They will point out the safety points where they have a few strategically placed walkie-talkies on the trail should you need help while hiking.
They will then lead you from the main entrance point upstairs to their panoramic view restaurant, where they have some coffee, tea, and water to enjoy before your hike.
Once you’re done hydrating and energizing, perhaps use the restroom, then get going on the trail!
The first half of the trail is downhill, so be prepared for some steep sections. The trail is rocky, muddy, and not paved, so wear appropriate shoes and be cautious.
You’ll be going downhill on the trail for a bit, and within the first mile, see some of the best of the hike!
There are several big waterfalls and a few smaller ones, all stunning, but the biggest and most impressive one won’t make you wait too long. About 15 minutes in, you’ll come across a viewing platform of the falls. If you want to get closer, there is a rocky detour trail to get closer to this massive waterfall! Just be careful.
Within this first mile, you’ll also traverse over small stream crossings, so your shoes will get wet and potentially a bit muddy. There are several beautiful but wobbly hanging bridges you’ll need to conquer to complete this loop! (Keep note many of them have one-person limits.)
You can swim in several of the pools and streams you come across, so bring a swimsuit. However, also keep in mind it can get pretty chilly here. It was too chilly for me to take a dip first thing in the morning in February! Brrr!
The Second Half of the Trail
After the main waterfalls, the trail continues through the jungle and along the river. There are a few more bridges to cross, but you won’t come across any more waterfalls.
The last mile or so of the trail is exposed, meaning you’ll be out in the open without much shade. Until this point, you were mostly shaded in the tree canopy, so perhaps slap on a bit of sunscreen before continuing.
It’s also uphill to the starting point, so be prepared for a bit of a workout! If you’re lucky, you may encounter some wondering horses around here.
The End of the Hike
When you finish the loop hike, you’ll return to the cafeteria, where they will again offer some beverages, including some fresh juice which hits different after a hike! I had no less than seven glasses of juice, I was depleted!
You also have the option to order lunch from their restaurant if you’re hungry. Otherwise, just sit back and relax until it’s time for your shuttle.
I used the shuttle they provided and took the 7:30 am one out here, and I found it gave me plenty of time to enjoy and complete the hike. I had time to chill after and enjoy the views at the restaurant!
Other Options at El Tigre Waterfalls:
After you’ve hiked to the first four waterfalls and ten bridges, you can cut your hike short and instead go horseback riding, taking you through the beautiful countryside before circling back to the starting point. You can also book their zipline bike add-on option if you wish! You can decide once you get there and speak to someone about your options.
RELATED: 10 Best Waterfalls in Costa Rica (+ Costs and Tips)
Best Time to Visit
The dry season in Monteverde is from December to April, generally the best time to visit the waterfall. During this time, the trails are less muddy and easier to navigate. However, remember that this is also the peak tourist season so the waterfall may be more crowded.
On the other hand, the rainy season from May to November is also an excellent time to visit El Tigre waterfall. The waterfall is most impressive during this time, and the rainforests are lush and green.
However, the trails can be more challenging to navigate due to the mud and rain. If you decide to visit during the rainy season, bring appropriate gear like rain jackets and waterproof hiking shoes.
If you’re hoping to beat the crowds, it’s a good idea to arrive early in the morning, no matter when you visit.
What to Wear and Bring For Hiking El Tigre Waterfalls
- Sturdy shoes: The terrain can be slippery and rocky, so it is essential to have proper shoes with good traction.
- Comfortable socks: Make sure to wear comfortable and breathable socks that can handle getting wet as there are stream crossings.
- Quick-dry pants or shorts: It is recommended to wear quick-dry pants or shorts, as the trail can get muddy and wet in some parts or if you decide to swim!
- Moisture-wicking shirt: Choose a shirt made of moisture-wicking material to keep you dry and comfortable throughout the hike. Monteverde will be pretty cool out, but you’ll be sweating a bit on the hike.
- Hat and sunscreen: The last part of the hike is pretty exposed.
- Rain jacket: The weather can be unpredictable, and it’s usually pretty wet in this area.
- Water bottle: Try to bring your own reusable water bottle and fill it up here.
- Small backpack: Bring a small backpack to carry all of your essentials, including water, snacks, sunscreen, and your rain jacket.
- Swimsuit: You can swim in some of the falls and the streams, however, when I was here in February, it was pretty cold.
Last Thoughts on El Tigre Waterfall
This honestly was one of my favorite things to do in Monteverde, and while the price can be a mega turn off, in the end, it was worth it, in my opinion. I had an epic half-day chasing waterfalls and being outside in the lush gorgeous rainforest!
If you’re backpacking Costa Rica and you’re looking to see one of the best waterfall areas in the country, El Tigre Waterfalls is it.
Nina Ragusa is an adventurer, messy bun master, breakfast fan, and full-time travel blogger. She’s been abroad since 2011 and blogging on Where in the World is Nina? for nearly as long. Nina helps people like you move around the world while making money. She loves talking about how to work abroad and online to travel longer!