La Fortuna itself is a strip mall of a town. It is full of tour operators, trashy souvenir stores, good to bad restaurants and garbage. Our hotel is nice because it is about a 30 min walk from town so we are in a rural area. Farms around La Fortuna are being steadily bought up and replaced by hotel/spas which take advantage of the geothermal hot springs in the area. It’s main claim to fame is the Arenal volcano which dominates the landscape and the various “eco-tourism” activities here. Everything from zip-lining to whitewater rafting is available.
We opted to do the white water rafting and canopy suspension bridges during our time here. The Balsa river is generally a class 2-3 river but all the rain lately has elevated it into class 4 status – the highest level of difficulty being a 6. After donning helmets and life jackets and following a short safety demo we climbed into our raft and off we went. The rafts are different from the ones on the Canadian rivers in that you paddle – hard – throughout the trip. We hit some rough spots along the way as the photos will show but we all survived, no one fell out and other than a few bruises and sore core muscles everyone is OK. The photos were taken by the rafting trip photographer.
Today we visited the rain forest canopy suspension bridges, really interesting but somewhat frustrating due to the high volume of people there – most groups almost running through the area, which is a pain when you are trying to take photos – did get some good animal/bird shots though. My favourite suspension bridges remain the ones we visited in the Ecuadorian amazon where we stayed in a private lodge that had 500 hectares of private forest in which they had built canopy bridges for the use of resort guests only.
Sloth baby – moms back is to you in the photo, babies face is around the left side
This afternoon got a bit weird when we tried to find a local art gallery highly recommended on trip advisor. The directions said 10 km south of town so we hired a taxi and headed out. Once there we found a small building by trial and error that had some paintings in it. I really liked one of them but we were unable to find anyone who spoke english – one lady finally said they were closed and the owner was not there. Carol and I convinced her to sell us the painting anyways. We followed her to the main hacienda – which was stunning – to wrap the painting up – and in the day light it became evident that the painting was covered with streaks of mouse droppings and what looked like bird guano as well. So no sale -she told us the main gallery was in La Fortuna -where we just come from – and that there were lots of pictures just like the one that had the deposits on it. So now we need to get back into town. The guy at the bar said he knew of a taxi driver he could call – which he did and who arrived pronto. He was wearing some odd sort of quasi military uniform and had no meter in the taxi – luckily we knew what the fare should be so Carol told him what we would pay. Off we went, him talking on the cell phone asking for directions to our destination in La Fortuna while negotiating tight turns and traffic. this was the only time in Costa Rica that I have immediately used my seat belt when a vehicle has started off. so – we arrive in La Fortuna – go to the Gallery location and nothing like what was explained to us. Another adventure…. we finished our day poolside eating potato chips and taking in some sun. Yes the sun is out now :-)))
If you are interested in the real Costa Rica this isn’t the place to spend time – the south part of the country is much more my cup of tea.