La Fortuna & Rincón de la Vieja National Park

La Fortuna

19th – 20th of October 2013

I went to La Fortuna with Christian, a fellow German I had met in the Parque Nacional Tortuguero. Our trip from San José to La Fortuna already started out with a little bit of chaos when our bus broke down in the middle of nowhere and nobody had a clue what was going on. Eventually a backup bus appeared and took us the rest of the way. La Fortuna is a nice little town in the North of Costa Rica overlooked by the impressive volcano Arenal. But apart from the scenery being really beautiful, there is also a ton of things to do while in town. Since Christian’s time was more limited than mine, we decided to go for an action packed day with Zip-lining (20.000 CRC / 30,30 €) in the morning, visiting the La Fortuna Waterfall (admission: 5.100 CRC / 7,73 €) afterwards and finally relaxing in one of the hot springs in the evening. During our little bus breakdown we had met Alina, Annika as well as Jonathan and the fact that the five of us hit it off right away pretty much guaranteed us an awesome time.

The Zip-lining was good fun and some of the lines were definitely longer and higher than expected. A few of the platforms also offered awesome views over the area and volcano Arenal. There is definitely worse ways to start your day.

Straight afterwards we headed to the70m high La Fortuna Waterfall. Like I’ve said before, I’m a big fan of waterfalls – particularly if there is a nice swimming hole at the bottom. The fun was unfortunately a bit spoilt by the fact that the admission cost 5.100 CRC / 7,73 €. In my opinion definitely too much, especially if you compare it to the 14 € I had paid for Iguazu. But I guess that is just the way it is in Costa Rica. If they can, the absolutely will charge you.

A lot cheaper (for free, yay) and at least as much fun was our trip to the hot springs in the evening. There are several hot springs in La Fortuna, some of them offer packages with a buffet dinner and charge prices up to US$ 70 (these “hot springs” are more like spa resorts rather than real hot springs you would find hidden somewhere in a forest). If you ask around a bit you will hear about a free option a couple of kilometers out of town. Luckily the hostel we stayed at (Arenal Backpacker Resort, definitely big thumbs up for that place) offered a free transfer on Sunday nights. It would’ve been quite expensive if we would have had to take a taxi. So everyone grabbed a couple of beers and off we were. At the beginning the place was almost deserted and the water was only lukewarm. We already feared that the evening might turn out to be a bit of a disappointment but sure enough more and more people rocked up transforming it into an amazing get-together with people from all over the world.

I quite liked La Fortuna and could definitely see myself staying there for more than just two days. But life is short and there is a lot more places to see and discover which is why we headed on to the Parque Nacional Rincón de la Vieja the day after.

Parque Nacional Rincón de la Vieja

22nd of October 2013

The Parque Nacional Rincón de la Vieja was one of the national parks I really wanted to see whilst in Costa Rica. Compared to the other parks (Parque Nacional Corcovado, Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio and Parque Nacional Tortuguero) I had visited in CR until then, the wildlife is nowhere near as abundant. What attracted me was the chance to see bubbling mud pits, tepid springs and fumaroles – the park has a lot of geothermal activity. The fact that it is also home to the Catarata La Cangreja, a waterfall similar to the one in La Fortuna with the small but important difference that the water is very blue (due to volcanic minerals), was an added bonus. The hike to the summit of Volcán Rincón de la Vieja was unfortunately closed due to increased volcanic activity – but the 16km round trip to the top in addition to the 13km we had to hike to get to the other attractions would have probably put us off anyways.

Getting to the national park isn’t as easy as in other places since it is 25km outside of Liberia without there being any public transport. Hotels in town offer a roundtrip shuttle service for 10.000 CRC / 15,15 € pp but since Christian and I had met two other guys to share a private taxi with, we ended up paying only 6.250 CRC / 9,47 € each (of course only after haggling with the cabbie for ages, he tried to charge us double of what we ended up paying. Once again, welcome to Costa Rica!)

After paying the admission (5.100 CRC / 7,73 €) the ranger gave us a short briefing and told us, that we weren’t allowed to start the hike to the waterfall any later than 10 am. This pretty much forced us to do the 10km return trip at the beginning which didn’t make much of a difference anyway. Once we reached the lagoon with the waterfall, we were amazed by how blue the water really was and being able to swim in it made the experience even better. If only I had known that I was going to visit this place before I went to the La Fortuna Waterfall! 🙂

After hiking back to the ranger station (the ranger had made it VERY clear that we were going to have to tell him once we were back) we took off to see the bubbling mud pits, tepid springs and the fumaroles. The circular trail on which these sights are located is about 3 km long and the all of them are reached one after another. I had seen very similar things in Rotorua, New Zealand and very much enjoyed them. Like with waterfalls, I am also a very big fan of volcanic parks.

Although visiting the Parque Nacional Rincón de la Vieja is a little bit more effort than visiting other national parks, it is absolutely worth it. Definitely one of my favorite national parks Costa Rica.

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3 Comments

  1. Lea

     /  12. January 2015

    Huhu, ich hab deinen Blog irgendwie durch Zufall gefunden und find ihn super – anscheinend haben wir ziemlich ähnliche Reiseinteressen (v.a. Wasserfäle, ich bin allerdings noch großer Höhlenfan) und dein Blog ist eine reine Inspiration für mich 🙂

    Reply
    • Hallo,
      vielen Dank für das Lob. Leider ist mir unterwegs der Laptop kaputt gegangen, sodass die Reise durch Asien komplett fehlt. Jetzt habe ich zwar wieder einen Laptop aber leider keine Zeit mehr, das Blog noch upzudaten.
      Höhlen finde ich auch klasse, hier kann ich dir Vietnam ans Herz legen. Im Phong Nha Nationalpark gibt es ein paar richtig coole Höhlen.

      Beste Grüße

      Reply
  2. Lea

     /  12. January 2015

    Hehe, danke. Ich hoffe, du warst auch in Laos, das hat meine Wasserfall/Höhlen-Liebe auch sehr erfreut. Ich freu mich auf jeden Fall, dass du alles, was ich mir rausgesucht habe schon probiert hast (Somoto, El Imposible, etc), das ist wie eine live-Rezension zu meinen Reiseideen 🙂 Phong Nha ist notiert!

    Reply

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