So the flight from Quepos to La Fortuna was interesting. The plane was bigger than our first internal flight but we were told the day before we flew that La Fortuna was closed from 2005-2009 because two planes crashed- the pilots flew too close to the volcano. Great. Still, it's safer after a crash right? Isn't that what people say? Well the flight was fine bar some pretty heavy turbulence in the middle and we didn't fly anyway near the volcano.
La Fortuna is a strange town, it's there because of tourism and so everything it geared towards that. I guess that makes it feel a little soulless, and it reminded me of those American Wild West towns that you see in the movies but set in a rainforest rather than a desert. The volcano itself (arenal volcano) is pretty awesome and it's a shame it's not still active- seeing lava and smoke would have been great! The hike we went on took us to the site of the big 1968 eruption where two small local towns were wiped out and about 80 people died. The forest is in 3 stages of growth- full growth that the lava didn't reach, 2nd growth where the lava didn't go but the hot gases did and 1st growth which was wiped out completely. The same area was affected by a big eruption in 2002 (I think). Everything you stand on is volcanic, it's a bit like walking on soot. At the end of the trail you are only 1.5km from the base of the volcano which is as close as they allow you. The views are amazing. It's a shame I can't upload photos to this site from my iPhone so you can see, ill add them when I get back.
The volcano hike was followed by the hot springs- a series of thermal pools heated by the volcano. There were about 20 in total all varying in temperature from 30 to 60 degrees. I think the hottest we could handle was 47 degrees!
Next stop was Monteverde- by way of boat jeep and horse. Ha ha. We got picked up at 7am and whisked across town to meet a boat to take us across Lake Arenal. Again just great views. From there we were deposited in the middle of the forest to wait for our horses. Horses out here are smaller than at home. Our cowboy for the ride was Danny whose favourite word was 'Arriba!!'. Run horsey run. He directed us to hold the reins in one hand and move your hand forward for faster, back for slower and left and right for left and right. Yep, seriously, those were our instructions for the day. Now I can ride a horse so I was thinking this is nuts. And I was right, the horses don't respond at all to ANY instructions either with the reins or spoken. At first I thought they couldn't understand English so I tried a few Spanish phrases on them but nope, nada. The only thing they responded to was Danny shouting Arriba! which just made them gallop. H has never been on a horse before and I think he was just bewildered by the whole experience! 2.5 hours later and with sore butts we arrived in a small town to wait for the jeep to take us to our lodge in Monteverde.
We stayed in Rainbow Valley Lodge (thanks Nina for the recommendation!) which has great views over the top of the cloudforest and great views of the rainbows when it rains. We hiked in the cloud forest and saw yet more birds monkeys and a tarantula. Santa Elena is the twin which was about 15 minute walk from the hotel which was also fun to explore. Monteverde is great especially if you are a fan of hiking. This was our third hike so we were a bit over it by the end of our stay here!
Next stop Panama, a new day and a new country...