Heading to La Fortuna from Tortuguero took up the best part of the day.
Thankfully my connections ran a lot more smoothly than when I made my way to Tortuguero from Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. There were a few other independent travelers going in a similar or the same direction as me. Encouraging signs as on previous travel days I haven’t seen a lot of that.
One boat and five buses later I got to La Fortuna. It was quicker & less stressful than my previous travel day.
Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling the best and wasn’t up for much upon arrival. However, after a solid sleep though, I was ready to get amongst it.
For breakfast I was joined by some locals who enjoyed some fruit on the lawn.
I walked 5km uphill to the La Fortuna waterfall or Catarata Rio Fortuna. Paying $14 for entrance to the falls was a joke in my book, but I was there and wasn’t about to walk back without seeing it.
The falls is accessed by about 300 stairs which is well maintained (that’s where the $14 is going). At the bottom of the stairs, there were people everywhere. Completely expected this as it is a major tourist attraction of the region. I jumped into the cool water which was absolute bliss! The strength of the falls was quite surprising, I struggled to keep my footing at times.
I made my way back up the long stretch of stairs which was again a decent workout in itself. I then headed back into town via the same route. It was a hot day (like every day!) so I was glad to get back to the hostel.
The pool was the best option for the rest of the afternoon so I chilled out there until I spoke to Dante and then later Julian, Chelsea and co. I was very excited to see my gorgeous niece and nephews!
For my second day, I booked a tour to see two volcanoes (hike one, view the other), hanging bridges, waterfalls and a hot spring. The hike to Cerro Chato was meant to be intense, so I was super keen to tackle it!
The tour bus was 40 mins late for the pick up. Typical Latin America apparently! Right away I met three lovely English girls; Claudia, Katie and Alice. After a short brief on the hike, we collected our cute little packed lunches and headed up the volcanic hill.
The group ended up being a number of groups put together, there would have been over 50 of us! The hike was steep the whole way up, which wasn’t a surprise to me. Others in the group however, liked to whinge and complain about the intensity regularly.
The first 40 mins or so was exposed and hot, with no jungle cover. This was tough but not too long so it didn’t phase me. Once we got into the jungle, the terrain was more difficult to negotiate but we were thankfully shaded by the trees. Because of the size of our group, range of fitness levels and hiking experience, we stopped regularly. I felt for the independent hikers coming back down the volcano, as they had to wait for quite a while in some sections for us to pass by.
It wasn’t too much longer until we reached the top of the volcano. We were rewarded with a stunning view of the crater which is also a lake. Swimming in that lake would be the real reward!
I found it quite hilarious that people were so relieved about this check point, before realising that getting down to the actual lake would be another challenge entirely.
Queue more whinging, whining and general disgust at the task ahead. I, on the other hand, was in my absolute element. Scrambling, jumping, swinging and scurrying down the decline, slipping and sliding in the mud – it was the best! I could have done it three times more and still had a smile on my face.
Once down at the lakeside, we enthusiastically devoured our lunches and swam in the green water of the lake. On the shore, a cheeky caoti was busy checking backpacks for food. He was a gorgeous little guy and not one bit afraid of people.
Sufficiently supped and cooled down, we redressed in our sweaty clothes and began the climb up. This again for me was so much fun, I wanted to sequel.
Going on the groaning from some others around, it wasn’t such a pleasant experience. Eventually getting the whole group up to summit level, we continued towards Volcan Arenal. This part of the hike was less intense but still beautiful and challenging. We had been fortunate with the weather, and no sooner that I thought to myself, ‘Wow, great we haven’t had any rain yet’ it started pouring. This just made it more awesome. We were hiking through the jungle of Costa Rica, of the side of a volcano while it is thundering, lightening and bucketing down. So much fun!
We passed over a couple of hanging bridges and by a waterfall. If the weather was better we would have stopped for a swim but it wasn’t a safe option at the time. After being completely drenched, we arrived at Arenal Lodge, just in time for the sunset.
With the group exhausted but satisfied with the adventures of the day, we boarded some buses to one of the many hot springs. I had no idea what to expect. The guides announced we needed to leave everything in the bus (including our clothes) before going to the springs. So out we all hopped, in our bikinis in the middle of a road. In the dark., we fumbled our way down a path and into the springs. Besides some torch light, there was nothing revealing where we were. One by one, we got into the warm water and tried not to be swept away by the strength of the spring’s flow.
Our guides shared Costa Rican cocktails with us all and gave us volcanic mud facials. It was a very bizarre experience to share with 50 people I’d just met, but hey, Pura Vida!
Before the hot water and alcohol got to any one’s heads, we headed back to our hotels, muddy, wet, and ready for a big sleep. an epic day!
Tune in next time as I cross the border and head into Nicaragua!
Let’s see what adventures await…