The legend of Costa Rica’s Catarata del Toro

Catarata del Toro waterfall

While most people go to Costa Rica’s Catarata del Toro—a plunging waterfall into a heavily forested ravine—to splurge on waterfall rappelling or hiking trips, local lore has it that the famous waterfall was once host to a more costly venture.

To please the Gods, the native people threw the massive, costly bull down the waterfall into the deep basin below, giving it to the gods, but also burying it for eternity below the swirling rapids.

Today’s visitors still hold on to some hope of discovering this mythical treasure; according to local legend, visitors who stand directly above the waterfall on the night of a full moon (quite a feat in itself) can see the golden bull glittering in the water below. In any case, the bull did manage to serve as the namesake for both the waterfall and the town further downstream, Bajos del Toro Amarillo—Below the Golden Bull.

According to the story, the ancient peoples living in the region, in a desperate effort to appease their Gods, decided to make an offering. Forgoing the traditional blood sacrifice, they chose an even more fabulous gift: un toro de oro (a golden bull).

Photo credit:, featured image credit Steve Jurvetson

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