La Fortuna is the town to visit Arenal Volcano and her surroundings. When I was there, I did the hike to see the lava rocks and hopefully get a glimpse of the volcano but unfortunately, it was too rainy and cloudy. It was still an enjoyable hike as I got to see a lot of the wildlife in the jungle including the very cute colorful frogs in the evening.
The highlight for me in La Fortuna was the Baldi hotsprings. It’s the world’s largest hot spring and it has 25 mineral pools and has slides for adults and kids. I bought the an evening pass, spent 3 hours there and it included dinner with it too for US60 per person. They also have massages and spa treatments.
one of the 25 mineral pools. I love the water slides
If you like to go for free to the hot springs in a natural environment, head to the area beside Tabacon resort and springs. It’s safer to go in the day so you don’t trip and I hear from my guide that thieves go there at night to steal things so you have been warned. If you would like a more expensive experience, pay to enter Tabacon springs as it’s more posh and pretty but also costs US90.
I had very nice pollo asado(grilled chicken) at Pollo Fortuneno and it was delicious. More so than the ones I’ve tried in Costa Rica so far. Food at Baldi is not bad too and it’s buffet style.
I only spent 1 night there and left the next day for Tortuguero.
To get to Tortuguero, I took a shared van and then a boat. I booked the trip with Jungle Tom and they arranged for the pick up and drop off. The stay at Evergreen lodge was amazing. It was full board for 3 days and 2 nights and comes 2 boat tours and 2 walking tours. You can also book the lodge on booking.com directly and it’s full board as well and they pick you up from San Jose airport. Get a discount by clicking here!
The wildlife here is beautiful. As it is a tropical rainforest, I had a lot of pain with the mosquito bites so do bring repellent and spray generously. As you sleep in the lodge in the jungle, you will be awoken by sounds of the howler monkeys and other animals in the morning and sometimes in the middle of the night. It’s really quite an experience and I enjoyed it very much. There are kayaks you can rent to paddle out in the rivers behind the resort. The boat tours are wonderful as it’s unique to Tortuguero and you get to see birds, caymans and lots of monkeys
The city of Tortuguero only has 1500 inhabitants and it ya as beautiful black sand beach on the Carribean sea. They also celebrate biodiversity and they recycle everything. There are cute trash bins everywhere so you have no excuse to litter and the large recycling centre ensures trash is sorted and recycling is done. How cool!
the cute trash bins
I headed back to San Jose town after Tortuguero.
San Jose is the capital city and it’s busy and full of life. A huge contrast to the forests and beaches of Costa Rica. But this also means you have all the amenities and a very large market which I love. There is so much food in that market that I couldn’t eat everything that I wanted. One must try is the helado at Lolo Mora soberteria that’s been made the traditional way with herbs since 1901. It’s made of cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and other herbs. I’m sure it’s good for you because the tables are full when I was there and kids to old people were all eating it.
The ceviches, pancakes and other local food stalls packed full with people I’m sure will be tasty too so do try it when you have the chance. The market closes at 6pm so you have to go early for breakfast, lunch or early dinner.
From San Jose, I made my way down to Quepos to visit Manuel Antonio park.
Manuel Antonio park is the smallest national park in Costa Rica but also the most beautiful and visited. So beautiful it won one of the most beautiful national parks in the world award in 2011. The entry fee is US$16 and it helps maintain the park and also maintain the other national parks in the country. The park has 2 beaches, many trails that you can walk, a waterfall and also a lot of wildlife to see.
If you go with a guide like I did, you would be able to spot so many other things that you would otherwise have missed and they have a giant telescope! Believe me, I did the first 2 hours with a guide and walked the remaining trails without a guide and I saw more with the guide than without. 😂😂 there are grasshoppers, deers, monkeys, raccoons, sloths, lots of insects, snakes, birds and flowers to see and the guide gives good explanations of everything so it’s rather worth it for US$36 and he picks and drops you off at the hostel. I went with iguana tours and the guide I had is a trained naturalistic guide so he’s really quite good. I chose to stay in the park to walk the remaining trails and spent time on the beach and it was worth it because it’s beautiful. The park closes at 4pm as it’s closed on Mondays.
You can stay on Manuel Antonio town or Quepos. Quepos is the more local town and it has a bus that goes to manual Antonio park every 15 minutes for just 310 colones. There is also the beach and the marina in Quepos. Manuel Antonio town has more nice restaurants and cafes because it’s a little more touristy and thus more pricey.
I did the zipline with El santuario and it’s fun but I feel that the one in monteverde had more zipline variations like Tarzan and Superman. This one however had not suspension bridge walks so its pretty cool too. It’s truly a canopy adventure as some of the suspension planks can look pretty scary so it’s not for those who are scared of heights. The views are as amazing because you get to see the ocean as you stand high above the canopy. I recommend you do the zipline upside down when you can. It’s real fun!
I did a night walk here as well and the night walks in Manuel Antonio are pimped up versions as you get a huge telescope to spot wildlife with. I went with Efrain night tours. Efrain himself did the guide with me and he was so knowledgeable and can spot even the tiniest of things. He will pick you and drop you off at your hotel too so it’s really a nice way to spend an evening. You start at 6 and finish around 8pm.
this is a tiny scorpion under UV lightmummy and baby sloth
I spent the other days hanging around Quepos and by the beaches. I must say Playa Hermosa is still my favourite beach in Costa Rica.
the beach at Queposthe marina of Quepos
My 4 days in Quepos concluded my Costa Rica trip and I head to Cuba next so watch out for my next blog! For more videos and photos of Costa Rica, do follow me on Facebook or Instagram @4toegraphs
Never stop wandering!