Monday, May 20, 2013

La Fortuna

My last Costa Rican trip was to La Fortuna which is known for the Arenal Volcano standing over the town.This volcano is active and used to erupt frequently but has tailed off since 2010 and unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately!) I didn't see any activity while I was there.
My first attempt at a panoramic photo!

I arrived in the afternoon and after finding a hostel some Canadians and I wandered down to a swimming hole a local told us about. This was partly to explore and partly to cool off! As far as I can tell, all of Costa Rica is very hot and humid except for San Jose which is temperate.
There was a rope swing which I had a go on. Some of the locals were doing back flips from it but I wasn't quite at that level.

There were also waterfalls to jump from.

Arenal can sometimes hide behind cloud. When it doesn't you can see the story-book volcano shape.
The next day I headed out on a tour of the main attractions of the area.
We began at the Volcano Lodge which is one of the best viewing platforms for Arenal volcano and also overlooks the unexpectedly named Lake Arenal.

Then we headed off on a short bushwalk. Our guide, Cipriano, was incredibly knowledgeable about the area and kept us entertained with anecdotes and information about local fauna. 

This, he told us, is a wild turkey. They are illegally hunted so you usually won't see many. This is a reserve though so there were more here.
He also showed us a plant that grows in the forest and is a little like anise. The indigenous people made tea with it, while apparently Cubans used it for Mojitos when they didn't have domesticated mint. Mojitios with domesticated mint make you go 'wow', while Mojitos with this wild 'mint' make you go 'Reowwww' like a jaguar - he did the noise and everything.

He told us how the forest is like a hospital. There is medicine everywhere - coagulants, antibiotics, mosquito repellent and more.

We then headed down to the Catarata waterfall for a dip.

The water was actually cold! The pool was pretty shallow and rocky but you could get behind the thundering curtain of water which made up for it.
We also saw some Rainbow Bill Toucans, which Cipriano informed us are the most beautiful kind. They have a black and yellow head with a green and pink bill. This photo is terrible but I saw them on binoculars and it was a cool sight.
Then it was back to the Volcano Lodge to watch the sunset.

My second attempt at a panoramic shot - my camera did not like the change in lighting!

I'd made friends with some Danes by this point and Lise and I posed à la Titanic.

After the sun had set we headed to the 'hot river' - a thermal river heated by the volcanic activity. Here we met up with other tour groups and were served Cacique and grapefruit cocktails. I've been in hot springs before but never a thermal river and it was a very cool experience.

The next day I grabbed a delicious and cheap lunch of fish casado then headed back to San Jose. La Fortuna was a very cool place though I am idiotically sad that I missed out on seeing any volcanic activity.

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