"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

January 28, 2018

Jan. 27 - Arenal Volcano

“Collect moments, not things.” —Author Unknown
Arenal Volcano makes a beautiful backdrop to the little village La Fortuna. It looms large and ominous over the pastured green hillsides that surround its base. At the moment it’s in a resting phase, but it still remains the country’s most active volcano as it has for the past 43 years.

The volcano formed 7,000 years ago from the adjacent (and now extinct) Chato Volcano, Arenal’s most recent eruptive period began in 1968 with an explosion that buried three small villages and left 87 people dead. It was active with almost daily effusion of smoke and lava until July 2010. The area that surrounds the volcano is home to a number of hot springs, thanks to the geothermal activity beneath Arenal. Arenal is the most famous volcano in Costa Rica, but it’s not the only one. The country hosts six active volcanoes and sixty dormant or extinct volcanoes within its borders.

There are quite a few places to hike around the volcano, The 1968 Trail, the Arenal Volcano National Park and Arenal Observatory Lodge. We decided to spend the day at the lodge since it offers a variety of trails through the tropical rainforest, primary and secondary forests, pasturelands and manicured gardens. In our five mile hike we had a chance to see three waterfalls, tons of flora, lots of tropical birds and even a snake. But we still haven't seen the top of Arenal Volcano or a monkey.

Lake Arenal from the lodge
Danta Waterfall
One of the hanging bridges we crossed on our hike
A view from along the trail
The dormant volcano Cerro Chato
Part of the trail near the second waterfall
A local family showed us where this waterfall was
The third waterfall we found today
Part of our hike was on roads through the resort grounds. This road is lined with Rainbow Eucalyptus trees.
The lodge has a large bird feeder near the deck. It was a lot of fun seeing all the different birds.
This is a White-faced Coati they related to the raccoon and we've seen them everywhere this week.
Costa Rica is very lush...there is something growing everywhere...even the fence post and rocks have something growing on them. Here are just a few of the things we saw today.
Trail map for Arenal Observatory Lodge
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January 27, 2018

Jan. 26 - Relaxing at the Hot Springs

"The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” — Michael Altshuler

We spent our fourth day in Costa Rica relaxing in the pools at Eco Temales Hot Springs Resort. After two days of hiking, walking around town, zip lining and exploring, we thought we could use a down day taking in the therapeutic benefits of soaking in the hot springs. 
The Eco Termales Hot Springs is a therapeutic natural spa set in a jungle oasis. Their ecological natural volcanic hot springs offers five thermal water pools in a very private setting, surrounded by dense rainforest and botanical gardens. The hot pools range in temperature from 99° to 106° and there was a cool freshwater waterfall and pool to cool off in…if needed. We mainly stayed in the hot pools.

The mineral-laden waters of the hot springs in Costa Rica have been used for therapeutic reasons for over 200 years. Formed by volcanic springs heated underground and returned to the surface. Magma or lava has worked its way up through the earth’s crust to relatively shallow depths below the surface. Ground water percolates downward, comes in contact with the hot rock and is heated. As the water returns to the surface, it collects into pools known as hot springs. We really enjoyed our relaxing day.
An aerial shot of part of the resort...we were lost in the jungle all day.
We still haven't seen the top of the Arenal Volcano, but we saw a little more of it today.

January 26, 2018

Jan. 25 - Sky Trek Zipline Adventure

"The ones who go higher are those who live more intensively, influenced by the surrounding beauty." -Guru Sloth

Our Sky Trek adventure started with an aerial tram ride up the mountain. There were amazing view of the volcano and Lake Arenal…unfortunately it began to rain as we left the platform, so the views were a little hindered. We haven’t seen the top of the volcano yet, but we’re in the rain forest, so the rain comes and goes frequently. This zip line adventure started with a practice run at the top…a short line to make sure we knew what we were supposed to do. The second line is the highest in Costa Rica at 656 feet above the ground. We zipped along from one mountain top to the other…in the rain. A little scary, but even in the rain the views were incredible. 

By the time we got to the longest run, that is about 1/2 mile, the sun was shinning and the views were even more spectacular. Friends have asked me if I’d do it again…most definitely! 

Sky Trek Facts:
Sky Tram: 4100 ft. 
Zip Lines: 7
The longest cable is 2493 ft. 
The highest cable is 656 ft. 
Duration: 2.5 Hour Tour 
Wind Speeds: Up to 10 mph  

Here is a map of the zip line park and the cable lengths
While we waited for our tour to start we watch others come into the last and longest run. This hanging bridge goes between two of the bases. I thought walking on this was scarier than the zip line. 
Rain on our way up in the tram 
Stan coming into a platform 
This line had two cables so couples got to go together...a race...Stan won. 
The last run was short, it brought us down to the base of the park facilities...it was the only place to get a close up of the zip line. We had to spread our legs out as we come into the platform...it helped slow us down. 
The shy Arenal Volcano 
We enjoyed a wonderful lunch at the Sky Adventure Park after our zip line. The meal was wonderful and so was the view of the lake.  
I brought a GoPro with me to use on the zip line, but decided I'd just enjoy the experience, but here is a video that shows part of the adventure. If you want to know what it was like...watch this video. 

January 25, 2018

Jan. 24 - La Fortuna Waterfall

"You don't climb the mountain so everyone can see you, but to see the world yourself." - Guru Sloth

Day two in Costa Rica started with breakfast at a little bakery down the street, with croissant type pastries and wonderful Costa Rican coffee. It was fuel for our first adventure of the day...hiking to the Fortuna Waterfall.

Blog followers know we love waterfalls…we can never spend too much time exploring them. The Fortuna Waterfall is one of the most popular spots to visit in Costa Rica, so it was a little more crowded than we like. The waterfall is about 230’ tall. Getting to the bottom of the falls is easier today than it was a few years ago…all you had to do is descend 530 steps. Once at the bottom you can swim in the crystal clear waters of the Fortuna River and have a unique view of the falls. It was a relaxing way to spend a few hours…the real workout came on the way up!

Our first look at the falls
The path to the falls
A closer look at the falls
Too much water coming over the falls to swim in the pool today.
Rio Fortuna below the falls
Here's a video of the falls...I could have taken my own, but sharing this one takes a lot less time and is much easier. Enjoy!

After our hike we picked up a few things at the grocery store and came home for lunch. Our second outing for the day was a little less strenuous...we spent the afternoon at the Los Lagos Resort enjoying their beautiful grounds and pools. The resort sits at the base of Arenal Volcano and most of the pools are feed by natural hot springs. We wanted to hike to their observatory, that's suppose to have a great view of the lake, but the volcano was covered in clouds…no view today. We were forced to just relax in the pools, visit with other guest and watch the toucans play.

The view from the top of one of the slides at Los Lagos
Our first toucan sighting...the tree by the pool was full of them 
I couldn't resist going down the slide 
My view coming down the slide