On to La Fortuna – Driving!
We said goodbye to our lovely host, Belle, who was kind enough to take us to meet the rental car company – Payless. She stayed with us and made sure that all of the paperwork was accurate; I knew that we were in good hands.
Within a half hour, we had talked with the Payless representative, read through the agreement, and signed the contract. He gave us a brief explanation of the rules of the road and what to do, who to call if we had any trouble with the car. After a quick look at the car, we were ready to drive in Costa Rica!
Little did we know that getting out of Atenas would be one of our biggest driving challenges! After a one-hour detour of sorts (okay, we were lost in Atenas), we were on our way to La Fortuna, our second stop on the two-week journey. We opted for the scenic route, which took us on a winding and hilly road that meandered along and around the beautiful Lake Arenal. Although we had rain interspersed throughout the 4-hour trip, we arrived in La Fortuna in mid afternoon.
La Fortuna is located in the rainforest area of Costa Rica, which is home to Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna Waterfall, among other destinations. La Fortuna was a wonderful three-day adventure. We stayed at a local airbnb apartment within walking distance to the center of town. During our stay we went to the Arenal Observatory, Dave and Dave’s Nature Center, and La Fortuna Waterfall. We also found delicious food and drink at four special places during our stay:
- Snapper’s – where we devoured sopa de mariscos con leche (seafood soup with milk) and whole red snapper!
- My Coffee – well, coffee, of course, but breakfast too! Croissants with cheese and egg and a “typical” breakfast of beans, rice, scrambled eggs, corn tortilla, sour cream, and cheese
- Casa de la Hormiga – the casado – a traditional or typical meal which includes an entree (fish, chicken, etc.), beans, rice, plantains, salad, and starchy vegetable.
- Panadería El Mundo de los Queques – a wonderful bakery!
A medley of food is captured in the collage below – from dinner the first night to lunch to breakfast and snacks!
You can’t go to La Fortuna without seeing Arenal, an active volcano. But like most of our days in La Fortuna, we had rain, and always just enough cloud cover to keep a shroud around the top most part of the cone-shaped volcano.
You’ll have to use your imagination to see the top crater! We spent the day at the Arenal Observatory and saw and heard toucans and Collared Aracari (pictured below). The toucans were active around a slew of nests (also pictured below) hanging from various trees on the Observatory grounds. Also in abundance were butterflies and hummingbirds, which were attracted to all of the colorful flora. The multi-colored tree below is called a Rainbow Eucalyptus with brilliant stripes of color; several of the giants greeted us at the entrance to the observatory. One could easily spend an entire day here and not see half of the beautiful grounds!
Next stop, La Fortuna Waterfall
If you’ve ever been to Costa Rica or talked to anyone who has visited the Arenal National Park area, then you know that the La Fortuna Waterfall is a “must-see” destination. And, well, it didn’t disappoint! We were greeted by toucans in the trees at the edge of the parking lot; I knew then that we were in for a treat.
The trek down to the waterfall is a mere 550 steps, which means that there are an equal number of steps on the return trip to the top! The well maintained steps and handrails, as well as resting spots along the way, make it a worthwhile and manageable hike.
Dave & Dave’s Nature Park
Dave Sr. greeted us when we arrived for a mid afternoon tour, and before long it was pouring! I had to keep reminding myself that we were in a rainforest, after all. We donned our rain ponchos and headed out to see the nature park. It was obvious that the hummingbirds were not distracted or deterred by the rain; they were everywhere!
An avid conservationists, Dave shared with us his passion for the environment and their efforts to restore and save the Costa Rican rain forest. It was more than a tour, it was an education to learn about the history of Costa Rica and the impact of growth, including tourism, on the environment. Thanks, Dave, for a wonderful experience!
We prepare to say good-bye to La Fortuna and make our way to the beach – Santa Rosa/Tamarindo!