Published: September 3rd 2008August 25th 2008
We parked in the parking lot then descended past the gates of the fancy hotel. When we arrived at the river, we cornered a couple lizards onto a rock near the waters edge and as we advanced closer, they lept, sprinting across the water's steaming surface. An amazing feat of speed and agility, each step taken before the last could sink. We lower into the warm water and position ourselves behind the waterfall. Surrounded by the sound of water pounding against its self and the soothing sensation of floating in liquid warmth, the falling water creates a translucent moving wall in front, allowing only diffused light to penetrate into the watery cave. The current creates an eddy, but I still have to dig my feet into the sandy bottom to keep my position. I move into the stream of water, letting it pound against my shoulders and flow over my head. This is nice.
After a little while, Andy and I decide to explore upstream. We come to a small side creek of cold water that joins the larger warm river. Upstream of the junction the water is hotter, almost too hot in the warming, tropical, morning air. A hot,
steaming river, flowing from thermal vents of Arenal, a massive active volcano in Costa Rica. Surrounded by jungle, this is awesome.
I carefully made my way to the center of the steaming river, braced my feet against some rocks and laid down. The forceful, hot current provided a gentle, lapping, pressure massage on my shoulders and upper back. While enjoying my massage, I watch the lively, green, jungle leaves, illuminated by the sun, sway in the breeze. Fluffy clouds glide overhead and the sound of a cicada pierces through the gentle rumble of the river.
When I get too hot, I stumble back to the cool creek. Sitting on a rock, I let my feet soak in the cool water, close my eyes and try to calm my mind...
By the time I open them again, my body is filled with a small sense of euphoria and I sit a little longer, taking in the serenity. Butterflies flutter through the leaves. A couple of small warblers hop from branch to branch, picking at small insects. A vulture circles overhead, having caught the smell of something decomposing. For him, that rotten stench means food, sustenance, life. Just as
we start to salivate as we catch a whiff of BBQ on the wind, his body is similarly preparing to feast on rotting flesh.
Most tourists pay about $20 to experience the natural hot springs at one of the fancy hotels that dabble the mountainsides of Arenal, not knowing a free, beautiful alternative lies just around the corner. Lucky for us, Andy had heard about this spot last time he came to Costa Rica and remembered its whereabouts. This hot, steaming river, situated in the lush jungle is my favorite hot springs I have yet visited in my life. After a couple hours, I feel refreshed and rejuvenated, ready to hit the road again.
There are more photos below