Sloth at our guest house
Our first stop out of San Jose is one of the top destinations in Costa Rica, La Fortuna, 136km from San Jose and 4 hours by bus over the range of volcanos that stretches across the middle of the country. It’s home to Arenal, an active volcano, though you almost wouldn’t know it’s there, as for the 3 days we are here we only see a glimpse of the volcano on one day, the rest of the time it’s shrouded in cloud and down in the town we are drenched in rain. As well as the volcano and hot springs, the rainforest experience is the main attraction here and if you have the time and money there are a myriad of rainforest experiences to be had, ranging from guided nature walks to zip-lining and rafting.
We stay here at the “Sloth House” guest house, so called because they have sloths in the garden. It’s a basic place and a little walk out of the town, but nevertheless a good pick as wildlife watching is the main reasons we’ve come here. There are two resident 2-toed sloths at the guest house, one of which is a mother with a small baby.
Blue Jeans frog
They are quite territorial and generally, we are told, only move between 3 or 4 trees, though they don’t seem to move that much at all, when we see them they are just hanging from tree branches, though I’m assured they can move quite quickly when they want to.
One of our days here we walk up to the La Fortuna waterfall near the town. I must have misread the guidebook as I thought the walk was less than 2km. It turns out to be 5km and a fairly steep road there. The waterfall is pretty impressive – a 70m drop and has (no surprise!) plenty of water flowing at the moment.
Feeling that we ought to take advantage of the nature viewing opportunities in the area, we take an organised day tour to Cano Negro. This is an important wetland area on the Rio Frio about 100km north of La Fortuna, near the Nicaraguan border. On the way we stop for some Iguana spotting (they rest on the branches of trees) and from the river cruise see howler monkeys, caiman crocodiles, sloths and of course plenty of birds. One of howler monkeys is an unusual bright orange
La Fortuna waterfall
colour, a rare genetic mutation. We are told that due to his colour he has been rejected by the main troop and so has formed his own small troop with 2 other monkeys.
Despite the almost constant rain, I like La Fortuna but it’s just a little too commercial for my liking. It reminds me a little bit of Queenstown or Vic Falls and though there’s fundamentally lots of good stuff to see here it’s been hijacked a little by the adventure tour scene (meaning there’s actually not that much to do here unless you go on a tour, particularly if you don’t have your own transport). Tomorrow we move on just a short distance over the hills to Monteverde where, as it’s higher, it’s “cloud forest”.
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