La Fortuna´s guardian: majestic Arenal Volcano
More than a Volcano: A live Land
You can make a pleasant ecological adventure out of your trip to Costa Rica, majestic, rich in activities and scenarios….all without having to spend hours traveling in a vehicle. And it is only two hours from the Juan Santamaria International Airport. La Fortuna de San Carlos offers practically all of the possible activities in an ambit of ecotourism in which one may combine physical and mental relaxation with adventure to the level and likes of each individual.
There are various options to access this beautiful region, among them a shuttle bus service to and from the main points of interest in the country to La Fortuna. The area also has a domestic or national travel service to El Tanque airport, located 10 minutes away from town. Visitors also have the option of driving their own vehicle. Finally, as if there were few options, all of those coming to Monteverde or set out from this National Park shorten the way by making the crossing by means of car and/or bus that combines crossing Lake Arenal by launch.
Sharing with Ticos
What better way to spend some vacations than to be in constant contact with nature and staying in small or medium-sized hotels, usually administrated by their owners? And that is one of the norms in the development of the infrastructure and tourist services in the area. According to the opinion of hundreds of tourists, the local people are friendly, obliging, and show great interest in achieving an effective communication with the tourist.
La Fortuna, traditionally and agriculture and farm area, initiated its path to tourism activity as a main engine of its economy when the road got paved. Then a lot of tourist, nationals and internationals, started to visit the zone in order to see the impressive eruptions of the Arenal Volcano. Currently this area offers the visitor an important portfolio of hotels, restaurants and tours for all tastes and budgets.
Caño Negro, for example, is a wildlife reserve located close to Los Chiles only three kilometers from the Nicaraguan border. This spot is considered to be one of the most beautiful places on our continent for bird watching, including the Needle Duck (Anhinga anhinga), the Pink Spoonbill (Ajaia ajaja), the Stork (Mycteria americana), the Jaribu (Jaribu mycteria)-the largest bird in Central America and the Neapolitan Cormorant (Phalacrocorax olivaceus). Besides the great variety of birds, this tour includes a boat ride along this exceptional wildlife refuge. This activity that allows the tourist to observe Congo monkeys, spider monkeys, white-faced monkeys, three-toed sloths and reptiles like caimans, basilisks, and turtles. This tour leaves from different hotels in the area at around 7:00 a.m.. It includes transportation, lunch and professional guides who are experts in the flora and fauna of the area. The cost is US$65 per person and it takes about 6 hours.
The adventure would not be complete without a horseback ride to the amazing Río Fortuna Waterfall. While horseback riding you will get an interesting view of the south west side of the Arenal Volcano. This ride takes about an hour. This tour carries us to the entrance of the beautiful Catarata del Río Fortuna (Fortune River Waterfall), at which you arrive after a hike of four hundred meters across the mountain. On this walk you will be witness to a beautiful 70 meter waterfall, where it forms an attractive natural pool in which it is possible to refresh yourself, swim and, also, arrive at the back wall of the fall to observe it from an angle truly deserving to be recorded as a unique event in a person’s life. This tour generally costs US$60 per person and includes the horse, local guide, entrance to the La Catarata and possibly observing diverse varieties of birds, monkeys along the way.
Also, did you know that the Peñas Blancas, Balsa and the Toro rivers are used by the different companies in the area to offer the activity of white water rafting . The options for these activities couple themselves to presumed physical condition and age of the individual. There are class I; II; III and IV, either half day or full day, the prices vary between US$60 and US$90 per person depending on the river, the category of the rapids and the length of the tour.
Lake Arenal, for its part, offers the opportunity to do some aquatic sports such as rainbow bass fishing. Other activities that are offered at this beautiful scene are “crossings” or launch rides that, especially at sunset, offer a true natural spectacle with an amazing view of the volcano.
Of course, a visit to this geographical zone must include, above all, a visit to the hot springs. According to the web site “geosalud.com”: “A thermal bath increases blood circulation and oxygenation. The increase in temperature helps dissolve and eliminate toxins from the body. By increasing the oxygenation, bathing in hot springs leads to generally improve nutrition of the tissues of the body. This increases metabolism while stimulating digestive secretions and liver, thus helping digestion”.
If you wish to visit the Hot Springs in a tour –there is also the option of just getting to the Spa and paying for the entrance-, we recommend the Tour Hiking to the Volcano + Hot Springs and dinner. You can choose the Spa you want to visit.
The hike along the skirts of the volcano that allows the tourist to observe the rocky material once expelled by the volcano. The hike at El Silencio reserve offers trekking through the forest and the possibility of spotting three different species of monkeys, sloths and a large variety of birds, including toucans. The guide will share his knowledge of natural life –flora and fauna- and also history about the volcano and its activity. Prices of these tours depend on the choice of the Span to visit.
A town by and for tourism
Before June of 1968 this sector of the province of Alajuela was a remote area and practically unknown to the rest of the country. It wasla-fortuna-volcano precisely in this year that “Arenal Hill” became known as a volcano. For this then, the few families populating the area that were dedicated to agriculture and livestock didn´t know that said “hill” was a volcano, a fact that was suspected only by a few that had climbed to its highest peak. These people, according to researcher Jorge Barquero, said “that inside the crater there were great trees that, to pass the night, take refuge in places where they would feel some warmth due to small releases of steam”.
It was precisely on the 29th of June, 1968, the day that “Arenal Hill” displayed its condition as a colossus of nature. The eruption was predicted by a seismic activity the night before, a fact that culminated in the expulsion of a huge quantity gasses, ash and materials.
For about fifteen years, La Fortuna de San Carlos was a little country house built near the Catholic Church, seven kilometers east of the Arenal Volcano, a hill that reaches its maximum altitude of 1,633 meters above sea level. Today, the development of tourism as a commercial activity in our country has resulted in the creation of one of the world´s more interesting regions with a major offering for activities related to tourism.
La Fortuna de San Carlos, located 253 meters above sea level, establishes itself as a stopping point for thousands of tourists attracted by a constantly active volcano. None the less, it is in reference to this point where, according to Mr. Gerardo Villegas, founder member of the Chamber of Tourism of the northern zone, “we still have much to offer about this zone, the volcano is only of the more attractive items, in fact it is what gave the momentum to the growth of the area. Notwithstanding, in La Fortuna de San Carlos we have worked during the last twenty years to offer the tourist diverse activities for a varied stay, full of adventure in a natural environment….with its own affection and warmth of a people fully dedicated to the hospitality industry”
If you are tired of the hustle and bustle of the city, or well, you are a nature and adventure lover, you must take our recommendation very seriously, and let La Fortuna de San Carlos and its natural enchantments afford you some vacations that, without any doubt, will be etched in your memory.
La Fortuna Town