Cañóns Juan Viñas y Chirraca (Turrialba, Costa Rica)

Party: Fernando Freire Tirado, Danny Calderón Ballestero y yo.

I woke a second time when Fernando’s alarm sounded. I could hear messages being received on his phone… I got up to check mine. Sure enough Danny was writing that he was on his way! I roused Fernando and quickly put my things in the car. His contacts in, we headed off to collect Danny from the bomberos.

The supermarkets were still all closed at this hour, so we headed off to the community of Juan Viñas and parked outside a coffee processing plant, where we breakfasted and got the gear together for the cañón.

Eventually we headed along caminos through the sugar cane plantations. We went through a typical central American gate to an extremely friendly cow that accepted some pats. It proved to be a dead end, and instead of pushing through the vicious sugar cane, we retreated to loop around to the drop in by a small puente with some eucalypts and bamboo. Wetsuits went on and we soon left the heat behind entering the deep creek and a world of cool greens and bubbling water.

There was some nice creek walking, the water never deeper than my waist. We bypassed at least one optional rappel, everyone confortable with the downclimbing despite some slippery rock.

Quickly, we arrived at the top of a large waterfall… Though not really that large compared to some of the drops in other cañóns we’d visited… A long length of rope led down a gentle slope. From the end it was just over 30m down a pleasant sun exposed fall. On the way down I watched my shadow dance amongst the water and a small rainbow just below me.

Fernando followed and Danny quickly followed.

All too quickly we arrived at what turned out to be the final cascade. This one bolted (xx CR) and landing in a deep pool. The exit bridge was visible just downstream. (A trail system leads from the bridge to both cascades for those who want to enjoy them from below).

We relaxed a bit before heading back up the dusty road to our car… We almost got a ride up… But the others hadn’t yet emerged…

The cañón has been really short and it was still quite early. Danny had some work to attend to, but kindly showed us the entrance to a second cañón called Chirraca. This cañón is probably the most visited in Turrialba and better known by its commercial name Puente Vigas… In fact I thought we weren’t even allowed to visit it ourselves.

Walking past a gate we dropped into the trees and quickly arrived at the first waterfall were a myriad of rebarb bolts protruded from rocks all over the place like sprouting lollipops. The next waterfall had a suppended cable as the anchor and a strange tubular steel bar half way down prosumably to protect the rope. At the bottom of each fall, a trail left the ck CL. The tour companies clearly didn’t travel through the creek, and it felt quite untouched.

We soon encountered the first flying fox and regretted leaving our steel pullies in San José…

More creek walking led us to a peasant fall, another flying fox and a suspend bridge which we eagerly crossed.

We soon reached the final waterfall and after descending headed up to the trail that runs along the NW side of the drainage. Passing a commercial group (or two?), the high ropes course did look like fun, we returned quickly back to the car.

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