La Fortuna is located in central Costa Rica where we spent two days/three nights at the Hostel Backpackers. The town is surrounded by Arenal National park, which hosts two volcanoes - Volcan Cerro Chato (dormant) and Volcan Arenal. The town was originally named Borio, but was changed to La Fortuna (The Fortunate) in 1968 when Volcan Arenal erupted sending lava flowing down the western side of the volcano destroying everything in its path. La Fortuna is located on the eastern side of Arenal. Since then, Volcan Arenal's most recent eruption was in 2010, but was minimal and it's activity has decreased significantly since. When you look at Volcan Arenal from the perfect spot, you can see the distinct line of lush green vegetation on the western side, and black lava rock on the eastern side.
La Fortuna is full of activities for backpackers! Hiking, whitewater rafting, hot springs, etc. Ron, Kyle, and I signed up for the two volcanoes hike our first day - a full day hike through the jungle that leads you to the top of Volcan Cerro Chato to view Volcan Arenal, with different activities along the way. During the intense and fun day we experienced all of La Fortuna's nature to the fullest!
The packed tour bus picked us up from our hostel at 8AM and dropped the group off at the base of Cerro Chato. Three guides briefed us, firmly instructing everyone to stay on the path, as its common for snakes and other wild life to be nearby. Ron, Kyle, and I made our own walking sticks (lesson learned at Acatenango) and started up the volcano with our group of about twenty. The hike was through thick, steep, very muddy jungle, and involved carefully grabbing trees and vines to help pull yourself up. We stopped occasionally for breaks/to admire the view and made it to the top in 2.5 hours! It was a rewarding hike because not only could we see Volcan Arenal closely, but at Cerro Chato's summit sits a beautiful and massive crater lake we swam in! Despite it being mid summer in Costa Rica, the water was cold and refreshing! After swimming we ate the lunches the tour company provided us and watched a daytime raccoon try to steal everyone's food (succeeding with some juice boxes and mangos).
For the descent we hiked down the other side of Cerro Chato, through the Arenal Observatory, and across a hanging bridge before we stopped at Danta River and waterfall. We stripped down to our bathing suits again and dove in! We were able to swim underneath and behind the waterfall. It was beautiful! The end of the hike takes you to the Observatory Lodge to watch the sunset! The panoramic view was incredible with hummingbirds and other wildlife everywhere. To finish the day in the best way, we got to relax in the natural hot spring river, warmed by the volcano! The group spent an hour here and enjoyed volcanic mud facials and a complimentary drink provided by the tour guides!
We arrived back at the hostel around 8PM, exhausted but still excited from the day! The next day Kyle's flight back to Victoria left at 8AM and we relaxed and recovered from the intense hike. We walked around La Fortuna exploring the city, had lunch, and set up another rental car for the next day to Cahuita, Costa Rica. We had a great time in La Fortuna. Hefner's out!
La Fortuna and Volcan Arenal.
Starting the hike up Volcan Cerro Chato.
The first stop we made. Volcan Arenal in the distance.
If you look closely you can see the vegetation on the right side and lava rock on the left of Arenal from it's eruption in 1968.
We made it to the top of Cerro Chato! Beautiful crater lake!
We hiked into the crater and swam.
Descending the other side of Cerro Chato through the mud.
Hanging bridge over Danta River.
Danta waterfall we swam in! Stay tuned for videos!
The Volcan Arenal Observatory.
The trunk of a rainbow eucalyptus tree.
We found a Red Eyed Tree Frog!
Post-hike sunset at the Observatory Lodge.