A trip to La Fortuna is absolutely worth it while already being in Monteverde. Both destinations fit perfectly in terms of what they have to offer as there’s tons of nature and rain forests to discover and to enjoy. However, both forests differ a lot from each other.
While the Cloud Forest in Monteverde ist pretty cold and covers a huge area, in La Fortuna the tress and bushes generally grow around volcanic areas. This was also the reason why we decided for La Fortuna in the end – the volcanoes Cerro Chato and Arenal. I have never been on top of a volcano before and Costa Rica was ideal to finally do that. Plus, the way from Monteverde to La Fortuna is super beautiful. After a quite exhausting drive in an SUV for a couple of hours over streets that were not covered with anything, we were rewarded with a boat ride over Lago Arenal. From this lake you get closer to the two huge volcanoes, surrounded by a mystic atmosphere as if you were heading directly towards the island from the movie „Inception“.
When we reached La Fortuna we checked into the best hostel that I have ever been to. The Backpackers Arenal Hostel decribes itself as a five-star hostel and I could see a hundred percent why: a cool pool for all hsotel guests, clean rooms with reasonable sizes, a huge garden with hammocks and a hip bar where you can have high quality food and a cheap breakfast. This is why I absolutely recommend it. However, when it comes to tours you should inform yourself well and also check prices in the city centre. Some activities can even be done without booking a tour. In this article I show you three activities that are absolutely worth doing in La Fortuna and should be noted on your To Do List!
Horseback riding to the Waterfall
A tour on a horse was pretty up high on our wishlist for La Fortuna. For Dyon because she wanted to overcome her fear of animals that are bigger than her and for me because I really got into trips with horses in nature after riding on the beach in San José in Mexico. But here we also checked if the horses are treated well. And yes, the were actually super realxed and happy during our tour that we didn’t regret our choice. We were offered a better price than in our hostel right away and for about 30US$ we booked the trip to the waterfall. We were lucky twice because we were the only people having booked the trip that morning and practically had a private tour then. Our guide didn’t only tell us interesting things about Costa Rica and La Fortuna but also talked a lot about people and culture in Costa Rica. Sure, speaking Spanish is an advantage here. The waterfall is an amazing place and even if the water is incredibly cold and there were quite a few tourists, it was absolutely worth it. After seeing the waterfall we got to a small village where two people from the Maku tribe presented how their ancestries were living. It is obvious that nowadays not all of them are running around in traditional clothes any more but they still live quite isolated from civilisation and do their best to grow their own food.
Cerro Chato is the inactive brother of 1670m high Arenal volcano. While hiking up Arenal has been only recommended to skilled and experienced hikers and rock climbers and even then was said to be physically extremely exhausting, we decided to go for the less exhausting option and climb up Cerro Chato. We have already heard that for doing this you don’t necessarily have to book a guided tour, so we decided to go on our own. It started off quite well with us followig Google Maps and making our way to the top. But when we bumped against a fence, we started to ask ourselves if we were still on the right track. Nevertheless we climbed through it and wanted to discover what’s behind it. But after just a few steps we saw a bull lying on the ground, in the middle of the way, watching us. In the first moment it appeared to be quite peaceful but when we tried to walk around it, it suddenly got up and stared at us so we decided to go back as quick as possible and look for another route. As we already have stumbled across two huge vultures, we didn’t feel like expermienting any more. In the end we asked some people living on the hill and were highly recommended not to give it another try this day as it gets dark pretty early up there. Said, done, so a couple of days later we headed to the official entrance on the east side of Cerro Chato. We did have to pay a small entrance fee but at least we knew that if we follow the path, some way or another we’re gonna get there. However, don’t imagine the path as a plain, marked one that you can follow easily, nope – the higher up we got the more exhausting it got. What started as a harmless inclination, transformed itself into steps until at some point we had to pull ourselves up on roots and branches of trees and climb through the jungle. After about two and a half hours, several thoughts to give up and the constantly winning decision to keep going, we reached the top of the crater. We were super tired. But the fun was not over here yet. You can climb down the crater until you reach the lake that’s in the middle of it. This was the absolutely hardest and muddiest part and afterwards we were just happy to have done it. After taking a short break, we realised that we also have to go back the whole way. And if this wasn’t enough, on our way back it started to rain hard and everything got even more slippery and muddier than it already was.
Climbing up Cerro Chato was definitely the most exhausting thing I have ever done. But it was also the most adventurous thing and therefore so worth it!
So, you already know that La Fortuna is a volcanic area. That’s why it’s not at all surprising that there are natural hot springs around there, that get warmed up by the nearby volcanoes. You can definitely enjoy a day in one of the artificial hot spring pools of the different hotels and parks around. Or you do it like we did and ask the people around for natural hot springs where you don’t have to pay. This is how we ended up under a bridge where the warm water kept floating through. The current was pretty strong but not as strong as if we couldn’t hold on to anything and pull ourselves back to the edge of the pool through our own strength. The best time to go there is in the evening because people bring candles and everything gets soaked in a romantic, cosy light. It was incredibly relaxing just to feel the warm water around us and to let ourselves float with the current. Like a spa treatment, just completely for free. The only thing you have to keep in mind is that they are natural pools. Little animals come with it. In the vocanic sand there were small red worms that dug themselves up and that I had to remove from my bikini when having a shower afterwards. Not the best moment in my life, so I recommend you not to dig too deep in the mud. You can only reach the place by car or mybe even by bike, but it’s way too far away to go there by foot as it is quite far away from La Fortuna’s city centre.