Rain Forest and Volcanos

Published: August 4th 2012
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Real Rain Forest

Up bright and early – tremendous storm in the night – must have been inches of rain. But when we got up blue sky and clear.

Breakfast was part of the “cash” deal so down we went. It was really really nice – including fresh fruit and fried breakfast which included Pino Gallo (rice and beans) and Fried Cheese – which was very nice – but should we have put it on bread? Spent quite a while in the restaurant as the WiFi was really strong so uploaded a blog and a considerable number of pictures. This one may have to wait until we next get internet access.

We had a choice of “reserves” to visit – the Monteverde reserve is world famous but very busy. The St Elena reserve is a little of the beaten track but should be quieter and perhaps we'll have more chance of seeing something a bit bigger than a frog?

The reserve was only about 3.5km away according to the GPS but still took quite a while to get too as it was up and down more unpaved roads. You would have no chance of getting to this reserve without a good 4x4.

We arrived at the reserve and the temperature had dropped to about 17C as it was at about 5000 feet. Some members of the party Ponchoed up – while others just carried theres. Nice pictures though!

We paid the $14 entrance fee and went in. We decided to take the medium trail – called the “Youth Challenge” - which seemed about the right sort of length that we might see some reasonably sized animals.

This is a real rain forest – and you are in the clouds – so every now and again ethereal clouds pass by. We wandered along the path – looking out for animals – it was very wet (well we were in the rain forest). We saw some birds and lots of small insects and millipedes – once of which seemed to have drowned in the rain last night so we thought about bringing it home with us!

Some great pictures of the rain forest. Only saw one bird – though the park was supposed to be home to the Resplendent Quesptal – we saw some sort of ugly Turkey type bird...

I must admit I offered Matthew a fiver if he found one of the Resplendent Quesptal but even that incentive had no affect.

We spent about 2 hours in the Rain Forest – got glimpses of the Arenal volcano – but the cloud was quite low. We should get better pictures tomorrow as that's the direction we are going.

Drove back to Monteverde – there are bits of the route that look like the Peak District or the Lake District (if you sort of blank out the Ephilytes hanging from the trees).

We stopped at the supermarket and picked up some snacks for lunch and looked for the Post Office for some stamps – but it was closed – the 2nd August is some sort of National holiday.

Then back to the hotel for snacks for lunch before a swim in the pool. The pool was actually warmer than the air temperature so we spent a while in the pool. Then back to the room for a quick change before heading up to the top of the Hotel – to the Basketball court – with the football. Football was played, basketball was attempted and some of us went through the Orchid Garden... a racoon (or Agouti...) wandered past and we met a delightfully kitty which was all by itself. I will be checking Eleanor's luggage later...

Back to the room – bigger children went away to Internet – we sat on the balcony and sucked in the scenery. The sun was setting and I got some great pictures. Hopefully they will come out ok.

A beer was in order so the Pilsen from the supermarket was cracked open – the sun set – and a stunning red sky developed.

The boys came back and we decided to walk into Monteverde to find somewhere to eat. Loads of restaurants near the hotel – the first couple didn't quite meet what we were looking for. At which point a lady stopped and pointed us down a road to a restaurant which she recommended – as Christopher said she probably worked there – and sure enough she turned up later.

However, the restaurant was stunning and the food was great. Chicken al Funghi – proper veg – no chips. 5 meals – 5 drinks – very very reasonable. We were the only ones in the Restaurant. Then back up the hill – 126 steps to the hotel room and watching Americas Got Talent – which is like the British equivalent with more mad people... Oh some people are already asleep – serious snoring....

Tomorrow, breakfast and then swim before we leave.

August 3rd – Volcano time!

So up and away we've done the Pacific Coast and the Mountain Rain Forest – now it's Volcano time! Well – time for breakfast and a swim and we need to check out! Got away at about 10.30 – lovely temperature – blue sky. Didn't really want to move on but there are other great sights and adventures ahead.

We went through Monteverde and stopped at the Correos (Post Office) and picked up some stamps for postacards – coming soon to those at home. We then headed through St Elena and towards Tilaran – this was about 16km of unpaved road. Even I had had enough off-roading by the time we got back onto a road... well at least it had tarmac on it. I think it took us the best part of an hour to cover the 16km. We went past coffee plantations and lush green countryside. Reminded me of the Lake District to some extent.

After Tilaran the road was significantly better and we made good time. We headed round Lake Arenal – which is a man made lake mainly used to generate hydro-electric power (at one time nearly 80% of Costa Ricas electricity came this way). We headed Northward and then round the top to Neovo Arenal and then headed down towards Fortuna and Volcano.. yep Volcano.

Stopped for a Frappacino and a bun at a cafe near the top of Lake Arenal. Very nice. Wind farms as well as hydro-electric very Eco Friendly.

We passed a number of nice looking hotels but had been recommended the Arenal Paraiso Hotel Resort and Spa by the guy on the desk at the El Elsalbo in Monteverde so we tried there. Lovely place... under the Volcano – the pictures are taken from the porch of our cabin.

We have 4 beds – a kitchen, 2 bathrooms – one with a whirlpool, walk in dressing room, fridge – more than we need but it is lovely.

It also has it's own hot springs. So there are 10 to 12 hot pools with the warmest at the top and the coolest at the bottom, plus swimming pools oh and a swim up bar where you can order not only drinks but food as well... Matthew thought he'd died and gone to heaven!

We tried the pools slowly working our way up to the top. From the second too top you can sit on the ledge and watch the Volcano slowly puffing – it has been very dormant for about 18 months but for the 30 years prior to that was a big draw with tourists as you could just about guarantee lava flows.. We like the little puffs no need to see bigger fireworks.

While I was taking the photos of the volcano I heard a noise behind me and it was a group of monkeys in the canopy behind the cabin. You see you pay to go in the National Parks and don't see any and then a whole troup turn up on your doorstep. Very exciting!

The WiFi is in the lodge so we used that before we went out to eat. Eating at the local Steakhouse – not cheap – in fact the most expensive meal we've had here – but one of the best steaks I've ever had – they came on skillets which was good as Eleanors was still warm 30 minutes after she started. Great coffee as well.

Back to the room – watched a bit of telly and then got the blog ready for uploading. I hear snoring from next door so it must be almost bedtime!

Tomorrow – waterfall or Volcano? Or both?

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