Blogs from La Fortuna, Alajuela, Costa Rica, Central America Caribbean


La Fortuna was billed as this big backpackers hang-out at the foot of a massive volcano. There's no doubting the first part of that statement, but what volcano? All we saw was low cloud and drizzle! It was good to sit in a bar drinking craft ale and playing Jenga, but there wasn't the party vibe we had expected. Food, drink and accommodation were generally way overpriced, but we did manage to find some value. We had big plans for our stay. A walk on a trail where we were more or less guaranteed to see sloths was definitely on our itinerary as was a trip to see a series of hanging bridges close to the volcano. Both bit the dust as the rain was relentless leaving us spending more or less a whole day in ... read more
A very proud lizard
Toucan play at that game
Craft ale and Jenga!

My friend gave me the choice for the next stop and due to the excessive rain, I figured, if we are gonna get wet anyway, hiking in rainforests, relaxing in hot springs, seeing sloths and a volcano sounded great to me. Bus experience We took the early bus from Playa Samara to Nicoya. Knowing the location of the multiple bus stations at this point, we made our way directly to the station to catch the bus to Liberia. Here we double and triple checked the buses and waited for the ride to Canas. In Canas, we each got an empanada as a snack. When it was time leave, I got a nice comment from the lady on the bus to Tilaran because when I asked the driver the price, he told me in Spanish and I ... read more
Sloth mama and baby
Sloth mama and baby
Tabacon Thermal Springs

It’s our last day in La Fortuna and there is no rain forecast for a full 6 hours. However, the volcano remains stubbornly hidden behind the clouds. I manage to sleep until gone 6 then get up to watch the hotel staff hoist bananas up a flagpole to attract the birds, and watch as group after group of different species turn up for breakfast – things get particularly fractious between the budgies and woodpeckers. My breakfast this morning is (not surprisingly) from the bakery – bread stuffed with cream cheese and pineapple. This morning’s activity is a trip to La Fortuna waterfall, which is accessed via a flight of 530 steps – a jolly sensible activity for two old codgers with dodgy knees! We drive to the top of the waterfall, pay the £25 foreigners’ entry ... read more
Catarata La Fortuna
The old man and the waterfall
Infinity pool

It rained in the night. A lot. We went to bed in a cabin surrounded by gardens and woke up surrounded by a moat. As I get older I find it harder to deal with the change in time zones so I am awake (and hungry) by 5 am. Luckily, there is some leftover pizza bread in the fridge and I sit and watch the visitors on the tree outside our room as the sun rises – so far today there have been squirrels and dozens of different birds, including woodpeckers, hummingbirds and 4 toucans. We decide to stick with our original plan to go to Volcán Arenal National Park, despite the fact that the volcano is barely visible behind the clouds. The 10 mile drive to the National Park is uneventful, apart from an emergency ... read more
Going off road
Wildlife crossing
Observation Tower

This morning is our first full day in Costa Rica. I am awake at 5 am (which is actually 11 in the UK and my stomach). 2 hours till breakfast and I’m starving. At 6 it gets light and I can brave going outside to sit in the garden without standing in anything. It’s a pretty little garden with a gazebo and plunge pool set among the shrubs. Breakfast is served in a clearing in the garden and is very tasty – fried rice and beans, omelette, sausage and plantain. Although I go off my food a bit when I see quite how often the cook fondles the shitty little dog whilst cooking. Then we take a walk to find a shop to stock up on supplies. We’re staying on the main road to the airport ... read more
Bridge over Rio Peñas Blancas
Bridge over Rio Peñas Blancas
Bridge over Rio Peñas Blancas

This morning we got up and went to Arenal National Park for a hike on the lava flows. We were given the choice between an easy hike about one hour, or a hard hike about 2 1/2 hours. We knew we could do the long hike so that’s what we chose. The trail meandered around a lake where we spotted chestnut mandibled Toucans, Oropendolas (they make the strangest sounds... hard to describe), herons and 30 other species of bird we couldn’t identify. We also saw beetles, leaf cutter ants and a scorpion! It was over 30°, there was significant elevation, and humidity was near 100%, but Scott persevered. The views of the top were worth it, and as promised we did walk on the lava flow. It was around 1230 when we got to lunch, and ... read more

After a dreaded 5 AM wake up, we got Tiffany and Alexa to the airport successfully. Apparently they had no problems, their plane was on time, and they’re now enjoying the relative cool of Canada, including a fresh layer of snow at home.It was about 2 1/2 hours to Fortuna and we had most of the day ahead of us, so we decided to try the local hot springs. They naturally mix with the river so there’s different temperature pools so going to the hot springs in a tropical country isn’t as crazy as it sounds. Options range from free public pools to high-end and swanky. We opted for high-end and swanky. It was expensive but it was very nice and apparently the only place where the water is not treated - just routed through seemingly ... read more

Thurs 6-Fri 7 December - Day 41 to 42 - La Fortuna and return to San Jose for 1 night Our next journey took us through the mountains of the cloud forest using a combination of minivans and boats. The first leg to Lake Arenal took about one hour 30 minutes and the landscape was truly spectacular. Rolling hills eventually give way to the distant views of Arenal Volcano but we didn’t stop for photos as the clouds were very thick and low at the lookouts. Stopping by the side of the road, we walk down a dirt path to our boat on the shores of Lake Arenal. The scenery was truly stunning of the lake and we travel for approximately an hour slowly approaching Arenal Volcano. Once we reach the other side, we boarded another ... read more
We hired a motor scooter for the day in La Fortuna (2)
Arenal Lake near La Fortuna (10)
Arenal Observatory Resort and Spa (21)

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 ... read more

My Monday started out with a drive through the countryside - from Holstein dairy cows to fields of pineapples (seeing pineapples never gets old…sorry for the lack of pictures…it was raining) to bananas. It’s not every day you end up behind a dump truck full of pineapples or see the box of a pickup truck filled with bananas! I arrived in LaFortuna early afternoon and spent a bit of time wandering around, checked out another old church, had some very delicious quesadillas for lunch! Then I made my way further south to LaTigra to a hotel that Jon and I discovered on our last trip here - LaTigra Rainforest Lodge. I had been hoping to include it in my travels, and I booked myself 2 nights so that I’d have ample time to enjoy the rainforest ... read more

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