Arenal +

The trip from Islita to La Fortuna was very nice, especially the very scenic drive alongside the Laguna de Arenal.  The only weird thing during the drive was to spot ‘little Switzerland’. A Swiss guy has built his version of Switzerland at the shore of the lake: several chalets, a church and even a small railway system – it does look very Swiss indeed.

Upon the arrival at the hotel here in La Fortuna, I got a nice surprise. The hotel upgraded me from my basic room into a much nicer one – a honeymoon suite!! I am probably the only single traveler at the hotel, but see where I ended up staying. Anyway, I enjoy the amenities and the wonderful view of the volcano El Arenal.

This volcano is actually the main reason for visiting the region. It is very active, you can see the steam at the crater on the top, although there are no lava flows to spot right now. Actually one of the local guides said that he is a little bit worried, as the volcano has been very calm during the last 6 months. He prefers the volcano to release some lava and ash on a regular basis. I guess the guy is fearing a much bigger eruption, as had happened in 1968 when some people had been killed and many houses in the area had been destroyed.

The other big attraction here are the hot springs. The hot water comes directly from the volcano, has lots of minerals and they say it has healing effects. Do not know about that, but in fact I am feeling very well right now…. I did visit the hot springs at Tabacon three times. The water of the hot springs flows through natural pools, with lots of plants and also animals around. It feels like taking a dip in the middle of the rainforest. The water temperature is up to 45 degrees. It is a very, very nice experience.

One afternoon I did a short trip to a very scenic waterfall in the area. The climb down was very steep, but it was worth the effort. Surrounded by lush rainforest, the 70 meters high waterfall has built a pool where you can swim and cool down before the climb back up the hill. We also did a guided hiking trip to the volcano. Our guide was very knowledgeable and a good spotter of animals and plants.

The highlight of the trip was the ‘do not touch me’ or the ‘sleeping plant’. This is a small plant, which looks a bit like a fern. Once you touch this plant, within a second it closes all the leaves and kind of collapses completely! It now looks like a rotten grass, which has not received any water and is completely dead. Undisturbed the plant gets back to it’s full size and beauty within 15 minutes!! What a fantastic mechanism to prevent being eaten by animals. Absolutely amazing!! Nature is still the most fascinating thing on our planet.

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