I got to La Fortuna
a little later than I had planned. I originally intended to take the plane there from Drake Bay
but it got cancelled
. It would have been perfect to arrive in the afternoon to check out the small town and plan what I was gonna do on my two full days there. But instead I spent a whole day travelling by bus to La Fortuna and arrived in the evening. And so I had to decide what to do the next day on an empty stomach pretty tired from the 7 buses… I ended up booking a tour that didn’t start until 2 pm the next day.
For the first day since I got to Costa Rica I didn’t have to set an alarm. All the other days I had gone up between 4.30 and 7 am for different tours and travels. So it was pretty nice that I could have a calm morning, eat some breakfast and walk around in town. I walked to the town park and took photos of the famous view of the church with the volcano in the background.
I also had time to hang around at the hostel. The area of the hostel was really nice and I lied in the hammock reading.
Arenal Observatory tour
The tour started at 2 pm from the hostel. After picking up other people we finally arrived at the Arenal Observatory around 3 pm. We went to the terrace for a view over the volcano and Arenal lake. It was a bit cloudy though so we didn’t see much of the volcano.
After the viewpoint we started to hike for a bit in the rainforest. The guide was looking for snakes but we didn’t find any. After a short hike we got to a waterfall. If you wanted to you could take a swim but it looked really cold, so I decided to stay dry…
We continued the walk through the rainforest but couldn’t seem to find any animals at all, what a bummer! We got to a hanging bridge that we crossed. And then it was getting dark so we had to head back to the reception.
At the Observatory
there’s a frog pond where we finally found an animal. A cute red-eyed tree frog hiding under a leaf. It was really beautiful and I was so happy we saw it. It was a bit tired and we actually saw him yawn.
After the pond we visited the small museum with information about the volcano. It erupted 1968 and many people died. There’s a saying that the town got its name La Fortuna after the eruption since it was spared. But according to our guide it actually got its name already in 1950 when they changed it because the soil of the area was so good.
We left the Observatory and headed to natural hot springs. It felt a bit weird since they asked us to take off our clothes and leave everything in the bus. But we did so and headed down to the springs. It was very dark and I didn’t bring my camera but believe me, it was really nice. All over the neighbourhood there are hot springs heated by the volcano. We stayed here for about an hour and drank some Costa Rican “moonshine”.
Visiting the natural (free) hot springs in La Fortuna is a must! I never had time to visit any of the resorts with hot springs, but I think they are amazing too.
The second day in La Fortuna I decided to go to a chocolate farm. At 8 am I got picked up at the hotel and we headed out from town for about ten minutes to Don Olivos farm.
First we walked around the property looking at different trees and fruits. They had so many fruit trees of different kinds and we got to taste some of them.
The guide told us a lot about the different flowers and spices they were growing.
They showed us how to make sugar from sugar canes and we got a “sugar drink”…
Finally after all the fruits it was time for the cacao trees. The guide told us about the trees and that the fruit it ready when it’s yellow. Cacao was discovered when humans saw monkeys sucking on the seeds and then spitting them out. The seed taste a bit bitter and isn’t good for them to eat. We walked around in the “cacao forest” and he showed us how to harvest a fruit. He opened it by smashing it against a rock. We got to taste the white seeds that didn’t taste very well.
Then we got to the kitchen where every step of the manufacturing of the chocolate was prepared.
After being added with sugar you get really good chocolate.
He then heated some milk and added some chocolate. We then drank it like hot cacao with some vanilla.
The tour took about two hours and was a nice way to spend the morning.
La Fortuna waterfall
When I got back from the chocolate plantation I packed my bag with some snacks and headed to La Fortuna waterfall. It is about 5 km walk there but I decided to take a taxi. The entrance to the waterfall is 15 dollars. And I knew there was an entrance, but still it was more of a park than I expected. Inside there was a restaurant, souvenir shop and toilets and showers, even lockers.
To get to the waterfall you have to hike down 500 steps of stairs. It’s a nice walk where you sometimes get a view to the waterfall.
And finally you reach the waterfall which is big and beautiful! When I was there, there was a lot of people swimming in the water and taking photos.
I dipped my feet in the water but it was really cold so I didn’t go for a swim. Instead I sat down on a rock and read a little. But then the skies opened up and it was pouring rain. So I sat there under my poncho reading waiting for it to stop, a bit funny actually.
In the park there also is an orchid garden where so many orchids are displayed. There’s a butterfly garden with beautiful flowers. I didn’t see any butterflies there though, but I did see a hummingbird. Impossible to get on photos though…
After the waterfall I headed back to town. I grabbed a late lunch/early dinner at 3.30 pm. At 4 pm I had scheduled another tour. The tour was with Giovanni Borgani. It had gotten so many good reviews and I wanted to see more animals so I decided to go. I paid 45 dollars through a company. But it’s not far from town and I think it’s better if you just go there. I think the other ones in my group that paid after the tour only paid 35 dollars. Not really worth the money in my opinion.
The tour started at the theater where they put out fruits for the birds to come. I’m normally not into birds that much, but there were some very beautiful ones. Unfortunately I don’t remember what they are called, except for the toucans.
We headed to the frog area and saw a red-eyed tree frog. The guide moved the frog around to different spots so we could get a good picture. I didn’t really feel comfortable with that, but he wasn’t harming him.
There’s a small lake with caimans and we could see eyes sticking up from the water on one. The caimans were planted here and the guide claimed he didn’t know by whom.
After that we headed in to the path and looked for sloths. It took a while until we finally saw one, and after that one we saw three more, both two-toed and three-toed. They were really high up in the trees though and very hard to spot.
After running around in the small forest it got dark and we went to look for frogs again. This time we found the red poisonous frog. It’s so small!
All and all I liked La Fortuna. There are really many activities here and I wish I had time to do a real volcano hike, that would have been cool. The waterfall is really beautiful and I am so happy I got to see all the frogs!