Sunday, 17 July 2016

July 17 - LaFortuna Waterfalls

We woke early and had our breakfast and coffee. We wanted to get an early start on our hike to La Fortuna waterfall. This is Costa Rica's most famous waterfall. Over 500 steps down to the falls, over 350 are stair steps. The trail is well marked and maintained - no rickety falling apart areas. There are several resting areas with benches and shade.

It appears we chose a perfect time to go to the falls. We only met a few people on our way down and when we arrived very few people were swimming. The area is maintained by a nonprofit group and a fee of $14us is charged to take the hIke to the falls. At the falls a lifeguard is present, and he advised us where not to go as the current is strong. We stashed our belongings on the rocks and ventured into this cold plunging pool. After a few gasps we realized the temperature was really quite pleasant - a much nicer temperature than any Saskatchewan lake.

The people in the pool and walking the hike included several American students who are studying in Costa Rica. One girl indicated Costa Rica has lots to offer students.

On our hike back up the hill ( which to considerably more time) we took quite a few pictures while waiting for our legs to stop shaking from the climb. Several  groups were making their way down to the falls. Two of the groups were of students; one group of approx. 40.  Our early start paid off. We didn't see any wildlife, no biting bugs, no snakes. We saw a couple of butterflies and one hummingbird. But the forest was alive with sounds of bugs (cicadas and birds). The view was breath taking.

After the falls we decided to locate the hot spring river that we heard about.  Some reviews say it's a must see - other reviews speak of the unsafe trails, graffiti and suggest we avoid it.

With a Google map from our host we set out. We quickly found the area and parked on the side of the road. A local resident pointed out the direction and we found our way. We followed a short trail to the river....steam was rising from the surface.  People are sitting in the river bed enjoying the heat. We entered the river under a bridge and the bridge structure was covered with graffiti. However it appeared to be more advertisements than obscene comments. We walked through the bridge structure and realized people were resting in the river upstream and downstream. To get upstream we crossed to the other side, took a short trail and crawled through a hole in the wire fence to allow us to get to a part of the river that looked easy to navigate and where we could rest and soak. The river is not deep but you could submerge your whole body in some of the pools. The temperature was very comfortably warm, in some places the current was strong enough to feel like jets in a hot tub. We were hoping this would aleviate any soreness from our hike to the waterfall.

Most of the people in the river were locals. Several groups had set up areas on the bank with chairs, coolers and tarps so they could have picnics and spend some time hanging out.

We then took a drive to Arenal Lake and bought some empanadas from a vendor for our lunch. We took a drive just looking at the wonderful scenery. We got back to our apartment just before an afternoon rain. We later walked into the main Arenal area (2blocks) and had a wonderful supper.

The community appears very quiet. We observed the locals walking and hanging out in the central park both nights; young families, seniors and everyone else. It appears to be the meeting and greeting place for the community. Both nights the church across from the central park began ringing it's bells at 6:20 - we suspect it signified mass was starting as the church appeared filled.

It's an early night for us. Tomorrow we are going zip-lining! Temperature was 27° today- mostly cloudy, perfect hiking and walking weather.

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