We spent one night in Liberia at a local hotel when we took a family vacation to Costa Rica. We debated between a couple activities, but decided last minute to visit the Ponderosa Adventure Park in Liberia. We were so glad we visited, as the kids had such a blast and it was a fun and unique experience. I’m happy to provide this Ponderosa Adventure Park Review.
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Perhaps you know it as Ponderosa Costa Rica or Ponderosa Park in Costa Rica. At one time, it was called Africa Mia. Regardless, the Ponderosa Adventure Park is exciting for all ages. Here’s what to expect when you visit the Ponderosa Adventure Park in Liberia, Costa Rica
Where is the Ponderosa Adventure Park?
The Ponderosa Adventure Park is technically located in a city called El Salto. But it’s very close to Liberia, the better-known city, so I refer to it in Liberia for ease.
Where to Stay near Ponderosa Adventure Park
Hilton Garden Inn- Airport – This hotel is nicer with a great pool! It’s about 30 minutes from the Adventure Park.
Hotel del Rio – a basic, but highly rated hotel. Only about 20 minutes from Ponderosa Adventure Park
Las Espuelas – affordable hotel. Kinda bare bones in the rooms, but gorgeous outdoors and pool/play area and great food. (This is where we stayed!) Read more about Las Espuelas! About 13 minutes away.
Tickets to the Ponderosa Adventure Park in Liberia
You can (and should) purchase tickets online (<—- direct link. Or purchase on Viator for easy cancelation, if needed). This will let you know what time your activities will be should you choose tours that begin at certain times.
We were able to get tickets at the door, but we arrived early in the day and did the half-day tour.
Ponderosa Adventure Park offers a couple different tours that you can buy packaged tickets for.
Ponderosa Adventure Park Options–
Safari Tour ticket
The Safari Tour ticket is the cheapest. All it includes is the Safari and lunch.
Half Day Tour
The Half-Day tour is the next option. It includes the Safari, going down to Perla Waterfall, and lunch
Full Day Tour
The Full day tour is a great value, as it includes 4 different activities and lunch. The activities are the Safari, waterfall, Canopy tour (zip line), kayaking in the river, and lunch.
*Note that to take full advantage of the full day tour, everyone must be at least 6 years old.
Full Day Plus
The Full Day Plus includes everything that the full day tour has, plus horseback riding.
Purchase the Full Day Plus or Safari Only Tickets ahead of time!
Horseback Riding tickets
You can choose a la carte and just get tickets for horseback riding. *Note that you must be 10 years or older.
Or, you can choose a package that adds horseback riding to the full-day ticket.
We purchased the half-day tour since our youngest wouldn’t be able to participate in some of the full-day activities.
If you have younger kids, you’ll also want to choose the half-day pass.
So here is a review of the half-day activities:
The Safari at Ponderosa Adventure Park
Time: about 1-1/2 hours
The safari tour was actually really cool. Our kids had a lot of fun being able to go up-close to the animals.
During the safari, you’ll be driven around to different areas where the animals roam freely in large spaces.
When you get tickets for the safari, you’ll be told what time it begins. Head there a few minutes early as on the way you’ll be able to purchase some packs of carrots. They were $2/pack (when we went in 2022).
These are for feeding the animals and you really really should buy the carrots. The safari is much more fun when you are able to feed the animals instead of just watch.
Everyone will load onto the safari tram. It doesn’t matter which side you are on as animals will surround you on both sides.
First stop on the safari is the Zebras. These guys come right up to the car and stick their heads in waiting to be fed. Your guide will instruct you how to properly feed each animal to make sure you don’t lose a finger!
For example, tuck all your fingers into a fist and hold the carrot. The Zebras have large teeth and you don’t want to be mistaken for a carrot!
Next you’ll move on to the giraffes. The giraffes are more capable of really getting their heads into the car. They are gentle and easily grab the carrots with their long, black tongues. Just watch out for a slobber shower.
The car will then take you to a stopping area to get out and walk around. Here, you’ll find goats, sheep, and an area filled with crocodiles.
You can feed the goats and sheep, but please keep your hands out of the crocodile enclosures. Our guide said they occasionally get to snack on someones dropped phone, so don’t let that slip from your hands either 😉.
While you are stopped, there is a bathroom area right when you exit the car, if you need.
After about 30 minutes, you’ll get back into the car to continue your safari.
You’ll next see a bunch of African Cattle. These guys have really long horns, but they seem to know their limits so they don’t hit anything.
The final stop of the Safari at Ponderosa Adventure Park is the Ostrich. This guy wasn’t very hungry. We assume he gets overfed by the look of all the excess carrots laying on the ground. The zebras were more than happy to run over and eat in its place.
Again, the safari tour was a lot of fun. Our kids really enjoyed it and look back with fond memories. Even my daughter who was part of the noted giraffe-slobber-shower.
The Waterfall at Ponderosa Adventure Park
The waterfall, named Catarata la Perla, was quite impressive.
Catarata=waterfall. Remember that and follow the signs that say “catarata.”
There are plenty of signs guiding you to the waterfall. You’ll walk through a large statue area of random characters. Look for Bigfoot and head behind him slightly to the left to find where the trail picks up.
From there, it’s not a long or difficult hike. It’s a little rocky, but entertaining as you pass by animal statues on the way down.
It takes roughly 10 minutes to arrive. You’ll mainly go downhill for a while on the trail and down the stairs until the waterfall comes into view.
And it’s quite a view!
You are able to dip in and swim in the waterfall if you’d like.
Since the trail is a little rocky, I’d suggest some good hiking sandals. They’re sturdy enough to hike in, but easy enough to wear if your feet are wet from playing in the water. I’d also suggest some lightweight towels if you plan to swim, water, and a backpack (our favorite) to put everything in.
The best-known and high quality water sandal is Keen.
If that’s out of your budget, we used these instead and were all happy with them.
Lunch at the Ponderosa Adventure Park in Liberia
We were quite impressed with the lunch they served at Ponderosa Adventure Park!
When you are ready to eat, stop over at the open air cafeteria. Here you’ll find a buffet-style served to you. And they will fill your plate up!
Offerings at the time were rice, beans, salad, pasta, chicken or fish, potatoes, and vegetables.
Take your loaded plate and find a seat in the covered area.
Important Extras at the Ponderosa Adventure Park
What else is there to do at Ponderosa Adventure Park?
Glad you asked.
There is small pool area with fun, themed decor making it very appealing to kids. This is included in your pass. We didn’t realize this when we came, so we weren’t prepared to swim. But we wish we would have! It’s so hot after the safari and hiking to the waterfall, so a nice dip in the pool would have felt so nice.
Pack up your backpack with swimsuits and towels and take advantage of the changing area.
Besides the pool, there are also smoothie/snack shops and souvenir shops.
As mentioned before, there is an area with tons of different statues that my kids thought was pretty fun. You could get a lot of fun pictures here.
Is it Worth Going to Ponderosa Adventure Park in Liberia
Yes! Our whole family had a really great time here. Ponderosa Adventure Park is perfect for families of all ages. The safari tour is quite unique and being able to feed animals right out of your hand is a fun experience.
I’d definitely recommend going to Ponderosa Adventure Park and would love to know if you stop by as well!
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Llanos de Cortez Waterfall- near Liberia (what to know so you don’t make our same mistakes!)