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Fortuna (Costa Rica)

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Plains of the North : Fortuna
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Fortuna (La Fortuna de San Carlos) is a small town in the north of Costa Rica. It is mostly famous for its nearby Arenal Volcano (1,633 m) that has been constantly erupting since 1968. The Arenal Volcano is a destination for scientists and tourists alike as it erupts on an average of 41 times a day.

Arenal volcano
Arenal volcano by night

Get in

Direct buses from San Jose or transfer in Ciudad Quesada (San Carlos). Local bus from Tilaran.

By car it is a 3-1/2 hour drive from San Jose, but the junctions are not very well marked, so bring a good map.

by private Shutle: the cost of a private transportation with a Costa Rican driver is not much if you compare it with the benefit of a direct safe drive to the destination. From San Jose to Arenal and other destinations you may visit www.costaricaguides.com

Get around

Most tourist activities will include transportation. For other purposes you can use taxi.

See

  • Arenal Volcano The photos at right are views from the village of El Castillo, on the southwest side of the Volcano, about 25 km west of La Fortuna and about 4km up the road from the Arenal National Park entrance. Additionally, there are great views of Lake Arenal and the Monteverde Cloud Forest from road up above El Castillo. In the evening hopefully you will see lava eruptions that can be quite spectacular set against the black night sky, but often it may be too cloudy to see the magnificent lava flows. Tours to the National Park usually start out in the early afternoon and include walking for about an hour through lava rocks before reaching El Mirador, the best place to view the eruption of the volcano. There are also possibilities of skipping the lava rock walking and go straight to El Mirador. Most tours state that they will stay for a hour/hour and half at this place, but if there is nothing to be seen probably a lot less. Also be aware that it might be chilly, so bring a jacket. The tours come in a variety of options: with buffet dinner and entrance to the Tabacon hot spa $64, with entrance to Baldi hot spa $30, just the tour $25. There is also a possibility of a no frills tour by mini-bus to El Mirador and back to Fortuna for $10.
  • Fortuna waterfall by horse $25. Stone steps lead to the bottom. Take a swimsuit for the pool in the lovely stream below. The entrance is accessible by road, so a cab works fine too. The entrance to the waterfall is about $10 and the ticket booth closes at 5pm. However, once you pay to go in, you are free to stay as long as you'd like. It's about a 10 minute hike down to the waterfall and 20 minutes back up.
  • Lake Arenal, is just west of the Arenal Volcano and can be seen as you drive over the dam on the main highway to Tilaran. Much better views of the lake and volcano can be seen from the hills above the village of El Castillo, which is located 9 km from the main highway on the Arenal National Park road. Activies on lake include boat tours, fishing, kayaking, and wind surfing.

Do

  • Arenal Butterfly Conservatory, El Castillo Village - Arenal Volcano (20 km west of La Fortuna, turn left at the Arenal Volcano National Park Road and follow the signs. The Butterfly Conservatory is 9 km from main highway.), (506) 2479-1149, [1]. 8:30AM-4:30PM. A visit to the Butterfly Conservatory offers a practical educational experience about nature with diversified exhibits of how butterflies, frogs, insects, and plants are reproduced in this natural environment. There are six large atrium habitats that provide representation of the plants, trees, butterflies, and frogs that live within the four micro-climates surrounding Lake Arenal; the lowland habitat, highland habitat, edge of forest habitat, and inside of forest habitat. You will also see laboratories, reproduction greenhouses, the exotic frog habit, host plant gardens and orchid atrium. If you want more adventure, then take the Rainforest River Walk along Quebrada Mariposa, the creek running through the primary forest on the property, where it’s often possible to spot animals such as sloth’s, tayra’s and monkeys; or toucans and parrots. Or, just take time to reflect at the Volcano View Gazebo, overlooking the botanical gardens, with views to the Arenal lake and volcano beyond. $12. (W84.75183,N10.42391)
  • Canopy Tour, [2]. 7:30AM, 10:30AM, 1:30PM. Mundo Aventura Canopy Tour Enjoy gliding through 10 cables above the rainforest canopy, listening to the sounds of the Rainforest and enjoying a panoramic view of waterfalls and Arenal Volcano. The tour includes: 1- Horse back riding approximately 45 minutes. 2- The cables, 10 in total, span lengths of 200 meters up to the longest of 800 meters. 3- Visit to indigenous group called Malekus. *Combination Tour, [3]. Combination Tour Departs daily at 8AM 1- Butterfly Farm and tropical gardens 2- La Fortuna Waterfall 3- Lunch Restaurante 4- Walking to the Arenal Volcano lava rocks 5- Tabacon Resort’s Hot Springs & Spav 6.) Buffet Dinner at Tabacon Resort It’s a lot of tour. Start out by learning about the natural history of Costa Rican butterflies such as the Blue Morpho, Monarch, Owl Butterfly, Swallow-Tail, and many more. Get a close look at a wide variety of tropical plants and traditional organic crops. You will see close of plants including medicinal plants, spices, orchids, and more. This is a special spot for bird watchers birds. Your tour can end here, or you can continue with a refreshing two hour thermal hot springs visit. Tabacon Resort is the number one attraction in Costa Rica, and considered by many as the most beautiful hot spring s in the world. Choose from 4 options: 1. The hike 2. The hike PLUS Tabacon’s Natural River Hot Springs 3. The hike PLUS Tabacon Resort Spa 4. The hike PLUS Tabacon Resort Spa & Buffet Dinner All tour options include the Silencio Trail, entrance fee, beverages, on expert bilingual naturalist guide and round-trip transportation. Bring hiking shoes (during the rainy season, sandals to cross the river and keep your hiking shoes dry) a camera with plenty of film, binoculars, a poncho and insect repellent. Now head back past town to the La Fortuna Waterfall. Look around as you head up the road, and take in the beautiful panoramic views of the San Carlos lowlands. A short hike down a steep trail (with steps and a handrail) leaves you only a few feet in front of this powerful waterfall. Time to relax. Sit on the huge rocks around the falls, admire the beauty of the surrounding flora, take a refreshing swim in several pools, or get a massage the natural way under several smaller waterfalls. By now you are looking forward to a great lunch at restaurant. A fantastic typical Costa Rican lunch will get your energy back for the next part of your tour. The final stop of Tabacon Resort is just a few minutes away. Start with a guided walk along the trails of past lava flows. Hear eruptions and lava tumbling down the face of this mighty volcano. Occasionally you will also see lava rocks on this side of the mountain. Now it’s time to relax in what most will agree is the best thermal hot springs in the world. Enjoy thermal rivers with large waterfalls to sit under for a wonderful massage, or stand behind as a natural sauna. There are also 7 different temperature pools, a cold water pool, Jacuzzis, swim-up bar, a first class Spa, perfectly manicured grounds with many grass areas to relax, an unbelievable variety of flowers and trees, paths along the edge of the rainforest, and more. All of this with the volcano right in front of you. It’s not hard to see why this is the number one attraction in Costa Rica. Top it all off with a buffet dinner at the resort. *Wear long pants and hiking shoes. Bring bathing suit, towel, repellent, poncho, camera, binoculars, and plenty of film.
  • Jeep Boat Jeep, [4]. The fastest way to Monteverde. This trip starts at La fortuna at 8:30AM. where they will provide transportation to the Arenal Dam. At 9AM board the boat for around 35 minutes observing the Arenal Volcano. On the other side of the lake, four wheel drive trucks will be waiting and will take you to Santa Elena, it takes 30 minutes from Fortuna to Arenal Lake, 30 across the lake and 1 hour from the arenal lake to Monteverde. So in 2 hours you can go from La Fortuna to Monteverde or the other way Morning transportation pick-up time: 8AM from Monteverde. 8:30AM from La Fortuna - Arenal. Afternoon transportation pick-up time: 2PM from Monteverde; 2:30PM. from La Fortuna - Arenal. (The cost of pick-up from your hotel depends up on the location)
  • Cano Negro Wild Life Refuge, [5]. Caño Negro Wild Life Refuge Rio Frío are biological humid areas considered to be one of the richest in biological diversity in Costa Rica. Here you can find a great variety of resident and migratory birds plus three different species of monkeys, also iguanas, sloths, turtles and caymans. The tour starts at 7:30AM picking up all "Nature Lovers" from the hotel in a very comfortable bus for the 1-½ hour Transfer to Los Chiles, a culturally mixed village only 4 km from the Nicaraguan border. Here your boat waits for your river adventure, beginning the 4-hour floating safari through Tropical Rain Forest and pastures until you arrive at the marsh. An experienced English - Spanish speaking guide leads the tour. Along the river you can see many birds, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, white-faced monkeys, also the three-toed sloth and some reptiles like caimans, Jesus Christ lizard and turtles.
  • Arenal Volcano Night Hike, [6]. At 3PM you will arrive a comfortable microbus with destination to a predetermined point to start hikig for around two hours, appreciating the secondary rainforest which contains lots of habitat of monkeys, spiders, congos, some cariblancos and not leaving behind the tucans, turkeys, and the big quantity of different flora thats in the skirts of the volcano. After making this hiking you will enjoy a refreshment and wide information about our colossal friend. To continue with the discovery our guide will show you where hotsprigs come to life and where you will perceive the sulfur odor and an emerald green color lake due to the deposit of copper on it. Later, if nature allows, you will see a spectacular volcano for 1 hour.
  • Cerro Chato Hike (La Fortuna Costa Rica), [7]. Cerro Chato expedition. Leave La Fortuna early in the morning for the hotel "Observatory Lodge", where you begin our walk through very dense primary forest toward the Cerro Chato through very dense primary forest. There you will visit the Crater Lake, where you can swim, take pictures and explore the surroundings. After that, you continue the descent through the rainforest where birds, insects, animals, immense trees and a wide variety of tropical plants can be appreciated. You will also enjoy San Carlos Valley as well as the Arenal Volcano view. The walk will end at La Fortuna Waterfalls, where you hike for about 15 minutes before you can feel the breeze of the powerful waterfall and take a refreshing swim in the river. Afterwards you return to La Fortuna. Departure: 7AM; Arrival: Around 4PM. Includes: guide, transportation, beverages, sandwiches, entrance fee.
  • Rain Goddess fishing boat - for entertainment the boat navigates around the Arenal lake, so that you can appreciate the unparalleled views. They have kayaks and other water activities you can do at the lake. Of course the main attraction is the fishing. The lake has many species of fish but the "Guapote" Bass is most prevalent; this fish is a close relative of the peacock bass and is just as strong. Other fish like the Mojara are also prevalent, think 'kin to the piranha but fruit eaters'. Using the fish you catch, Clifford, the amiable chef will cook them for you. Enjoy the fruits of your day's fun along with his many special recipes!
  • Tabacon Hot Springs Entrance fee $65. The fee includes modern changing rooms with locks, towels, and access to the multi-level hot spring with a slide, artificial waterfalls, view of the volcano, and bars for drinks without leaving the water. For a higher price, there is a magnificent buffet. Many hotels will arrange packages including a guided hike to the volcano followed by a trip to the hot springs for a much lower price.
  • Tabaconcito Hot Springs Free Entrance - Across the road from Tabacon Springs used to be Tabaconcito Hot Springs. It was administered by the Tabacon Hotel, but after losing a lawsuit they had to leave the complex and is now free to enter. There are no facilities except for some ranches and tables. This is a great place to enjoy a natural river, with even some waterfalls and places to relax within it. Since no one controls the site, you can take inside any food or drinks. Beware that after sunset there is no electricity in that place, so if you are planning on staying late at night bring with you a good flash light.
  • Baldi hot springs 16 hot springs of various temperatures. Like Tabacon Hot Springs, this too is often included in volcano viewing packages.
  • White water rafting on the Mighty Río Toro Class 3-4 or the Beautiful Río Balsa Class 2-3.
  • Canyoneering (Waterfall-Rappelling) In the Lost Canyon with Desafio Adventure Company $85. www.desafiocostarica.com
  • Community, Culture & Conservation Think globally, act locally! Visit AMURECI woman’s co-op, Proyecto Asis Animal Rescue Center & Luna Nueva organic farm. (You can also visit only Luna Nueva or Proyecto Asis separately.)$75. Exclusively with Desafio Adventure Company.
  • Caño Negro wildlife tour $49
  • Venado Caves $35
  • Canopy tour by horse $45. You'll go on horse back for about 40 minutes to the place of the canopy. Don't worry if you never have ridden a horse before, they'll set you up with friendly one. Recommended.
  • Ecothermales Hot Springs (eco-thermales@arenal.net), On main road between La Fortuna & Arenal Lake (across from Baldi hot springs), [8]. More relaxing and a bit more discrete than either Baldi & Tabacon. Reservations definitely recommended as they limit to 100 guests. Good dinner and drinks. Friendly service and feels like you're a guest of the family rather than a customer.
  • Safari boat on the Peña Blancas river $45
  • Rainforest Mysteries: Food Medicine Habitat link [9] $69 At an organic/biodynamic herbal estate called Luna Nueva, this is a great opportunity to learn about all aspects of the rainforest and how it relates to us as humans. A wonderful, relaxing, informative day tour with organic lunch and bilingual guides.
  • Horseback ride to Monteverde travel the old fashioned way by horse $75. This is a gorgeous 2-1/2 hour horseback ride along the beautiful Lake Arenal on wonderful, healthy horses. Best way to get to Monteverde! Highly recommended by Lonely Planet, Fodor's, Frommers, tripadvisor and more.
  • Rafting Rio Toro The trip entails over 45 exciting and continuous rapids that move through 16 kilometers of deep-canyon gorges passing waterfalls in a tropical canyon. Tour includes transport, fruit, guide, and a great Costa Rican typical lunch at the Desafio River Ranch. Prior rafting experience is not necessary.


Buy

Standard souvenirs, photos of the erupting volcano, machetes at the hardware store, Costa Rican coffee.

Eat

  • Que Rico Arenal Tel 2479-1020 is located next 6.4 kilometers toward the lake from the Catholic Church of La Fortuna. Italian and International menu. Great location for viewing the volcano with an excellent meal!
  • La Choza de Laurel is located next to Burger King. Fantastic menu selection. Tasty food. Low prices!
  • Kioro is located at El Mirador and is the restaurant closest to the Arenal volcano. You can sit in the restaurant and watch the erupting volcano or the red lava glow from the top. Specializes in meat. A steak will set you back 4500-5000 Colones. Tel 461-1700.
  • Los Nenes, not a very attractive setting one block from the main street and two blocks from the park (when entering from east), but reasonably priced food (but not as good or big portions as Rocas de Lava). 2000-3200 for a dinner. The nachos with everything (1200 C) is really good.
  • Rocas de Lava (Lava Rocks Café) on the main street, just after the park. Tel 479-8039, lavarocks@racsa.co.cr. Good food, generous portions. Try the Casado de pollo (2950 Colones).
  • Lava Lounge is on main street just getting into town before the park. Good food, a break from typical Tico food.

Sleep

  • Arenal Volcano Inn, 2479-1122, [10]. 6.5 kilometers from the catholic church of La Fortuna, taking the road to the Arenal Volcano Lake with a great view of the Arenal Volcano. The hotel has 25 comfortable rooms.The deluxe rooms feature two queen size beds,mini fridge, a/c,private bathroom with hot water,coffee maker and safety deposit box. Every room has its own private terrace with direct view to the volcano. The hotel has swiming pool,a small spa for body treatments and the best italian/international restaurant of the area
  • Hotel La Fortuna, (506) 2479-9197, [11]. A brand-new state-of-the-art five-story hotel in downtown. Features spectacular views of the surrounding country including the magnificent Arenal Volcano. Several rooms and most of the hotel are wheelchair accessible. On site restaurant, sports bar and offers "No Limits Tours" for senior and physically challenged and disabled tourists.
  • Volcano Lodge, [12]. On the side of the road that connects La Fortuna de San Carlos with the Arenal Lake, with direct view of the Arenal Volcano. The lodge has 65 spacious and comfortable rooms with two double beds, a/c and private bathroom with hot water. Volcano Lodge, accommodations with one of the best views of the lava flow of the Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica. Near the Tabacon Hot Springs. Volcano Lodge offers guests the opportunity to enjoy crystalline water swimming pools, which are meticulously treated. The pools have a peculiar form which is a continuation of the image projected by the Lodge, which brings out a more beautiful way of looking at the Volcano. Features an open air Jacuzzi with a magnificent view of the Volcano.
  • Hotel Magic Mountain, (727) 214-1616 (, fax: (506) 2460-6796), [13]. Hotel Magic Mountain is located in Costa Rica, right on the base of the Arenal Volcano and near to the local hot springs.
  • Hotel Arenal nayara, [14]. Offers 26 deluxe bungalows surrounded by lush tropical rainforest providing a retreat in which guests can relax amidst the breathtaking view of the volcano. The Hotels' deluxe tropical architecture mirrors the beauty of Costa Rica’s natural wonders and gives the opportunity to enjoy the best of the authentic Costa Rica hospitality. Has a full service restaurant. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and boasts a direct view of the active volcano.
  • Hotel Mountain Paradise, (727) 214-1616, [15]. Hotel Mountain Paradise has a privileged location in the Arenal Area. Only 6 kilometers from downtown La Fortuna and 800 meters from the main road, with a direct, uninterrupted panoramic view of the Arenal Volcano from any where in the property. The Mountain Paradise hotel is a brand new option in the Arenal Volcano area and offers guests some of the finest accommodations available. Perched upon a hilltop overlooking the rolling valley below, as well as a direct view of the Arenal Volcano, it is situated in an ideal location for observing the world's second most active volcano. Being just a few minutes from the town of La Fortuna it is a very convenient location to visit many of the area's attractions
  • Finca Luna Nueva Lodge Link [16] Tel: +506 468-0352 Email: info@fincalunanuevalodge.com 30 min South of Fortuna in San Isidro de Peñas Blancas. Finca Luna Nueva Lodge is an organic/biodynamic certified ginger and turmeric farm with luxurious yet rustic lodgings on the edge of the rainforest. Steven, the farm manager is a walking encyclopedia of medicinal plants, sustainable farming and rainforest ecology. They have a variety of lodging options from individual cabins to airconditioned master suites. All have overwhelmingly comfortable beds and nice views. Check the web page for pricings. The food is all organically grown on the site (including the meat) and is alone worth the trip. They have a natural pool and solar jacuzzi, wireless internet, rainforest hikes, options for day-tours both on and nearby the farm.
  • Jardines de Arenal, 2 km east of town. Tel/fax 479-9728, cellphone 353-3633. jarenal@racsa.co.cr http://www.jardinesarenal.com. The friendly owner Hernán Blanco will usually give you a lift into or back from town or you could take a taxi for around 650 Colones. 15 rooms, all with AC and fan, 1 double and 2 single beds. $27.50 per person with volcano-view and slightly bigger bathroom, $23 pp for the others. A typical breakfast with gallo pinto, egg, ham, cereals, fruit, bread, coffee and juice is included. The owner can help you order tours to the surrounding attractions, and if you're lucky, he might give you a free ride to the volcano (and back). He can also get you shuttle service to or from San José for $15 (one way) leaving Fortuna at 6AM and returning at noon. Friendly and helpful staff. Recommended.
  • Arenal Paraiso, Phone: +506 460-5333, Email:mailto:info@arenalparaiso.org, [17]. Located about 6km from the town, each hotel room has a small patio and offers a view of the volcano. There are also 14 hot springs pools on the hotel property where one can enjoy a drink and take advantage of the varied temperatures in each hot spring pool (pools higher up are warmer while the base pool is relatively cool). The hotel also has the famous canopy tour on the property which costs $45 and lasts about 3 hours. Rooms range from standard to superior to suite style with costs ranging from $60 to $300 (not including tax). The standard room offers excellent amenities (double bed, tv, fridge, coffe pot, hot water) and is worthwhile for the frugal traveler.
  • Arenal Country inn link. Located in the foothills of the Arenal volcano, it has 20 rooms with view of the volcano. The rooms have air conditioning, safety deposit boxes, hot water, flat screen cable TV, phone and private terraces. The hotel has swimming pool, beautiful gardens, restaurant service and conference room. Tropical breakfast included in the room rate. The price of a simple room hill 100,10 dollars, a double room hill 100,10 dollars and one triple room hill 114,06 dollars.
  • Tabacon Grand Spa Member of the Leading Hotels and the Leading Spas of the World (www.tabacon.com) is the region's most luxurious and best known destination. Entrance to the renowned hot springs and spa is included in room rate. Room rates start at $235 + tax per night in garden or forest rooms, with buffet breakfast included. The property features the Grand Spa, one of the top spas in Costa Rica.
  • Arenal Springs Resort [18] Modern hotel with volcano views from $87
  • The Springs Resort & Spa One of the newest resorts in Costa Rica and one that boasts incredible views of Arenal Volcano. The hotel premises includes hot springs, three restaurants, a wildlife preserve, a fitness center and a casino. Easily one of Costa Rica's most extravagant hotels.
  • Arenal Kioro Arenal Kioro spans across 27 acres of land that includes the La Palma and Rio streams. With over 50 rooms, the accommodations brag stunning views of Arenal Volcano and the surrounding area.
  • La Mansion Arenal La Mansion Arenal overlooks the vast Lake Arenal and is located just minutes from the volcano and hot springs. The hotel includes an infinity pool, wireless internet and free canoes for your enjoyment. Rates start at $180 a night.
  • Arenal Manoa Located just out of La Fortuna, every room at Arenal Manoa has been built in a position that gives guests incredible views of Arenal Volcano. The hotel includes, a swimming pool, Jacuzzi and a delicious restaurant as well as an on site farm where families can enjoy an educational tour of how Manoa farm operates. Rates start from $135 a night.


  • Lost Iguana Resort Sitting on a 100 acres premises and with stunning views of the Volcano, this stylish resort boasts exciting trails as well as an impressive restaurant and cuisine. Rates start from $185 a night.
  • Arenal Backpackers, (506) 2479-7000 (), [19]. Best backpackers hostel in La Fortuna. Airconditioned rooms, hot water, restaurant and a really nice pool.

Contact

There are two internet cafes in the main street, by the park. At Destinytours (tel 479-9850) 50 meters north of Banco National you can download pictures from your digital camera and burn to cd.

Get out

From Fortuna you can go to Monteverde with a combination of jeep and boat or horse. Or you could take the bus to Tilarán, and from there to Santa Elena, Monteverde, or down to the Interamericana that takes you north to Guanacaste or south in the direction of Puntarenas. You can get to Los Chiles, Puerto Viejo and San Jose via Ciudad Quesada. And of course there's the direct bus back to San José, at an approximate cost of $6.50.




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