Hot and Cold in La Fortuna

After our three day yoga retreat in Santa Teresa, we took a six hour journey back to mainstream tourism. We like to mix and match our travels with equal amounts of off the beaten path and touristy stuff. Hey, it’s our first time in the country after all so why not enjoy its popular sights and attractions too.

Anyone who has been to Costa Rica has been to La Fortuna and its surrounding areas. From San Jose (the capital city), it is a quick three hour ride amongst beautiful mountain views. You will never run out of things to do in La Fortuna since it is the town where most everything is based. For the thrill seeker, this place is nirvana. I also found La Fortuna surprisingly clean and not very busy considering the amount of tourists that come every day.

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Arenal Volcano is one of Costa Rica’s more popular volcanos with its near perfect cone. Situated in the Arenal Volcano National Park, it is only about 4 miles from La Fortuna. You can see its majestic presence looming over town like a watchful sentinel.

Hot Springs

Upon arriving at our hotel, we immediately went straight to a hot springs resort. The area, considering its proximity to the volcano has so many hot spring resorts, be it big or small, fancy or simple, expensive or cheap. Whatever your mood is for the day, there is a hot spring waiting for you. There is even a free public one beside a huge spa resort where the locals and the more adventurous tourists go. Why pay when you can go for free? But then again you don’t get the extra amenities that the resort offers. It really is all up to you.

The Eco Termales Hot Springs Resort was the perfect one for us that day because we wanted a smallish romantic hot spring experience without the large crazy water park crowds. It boasts of an almost all natural setting where the pool and its surroundings make you feel like you are in the middle of a rainforest. They also control the number of guests by assigning time slots on your reservations. So if you want peace and quiet and ultimate relaxation, then this is the place.

They only have five pools, each with varying degrees of hotness. I can only take the first one, pictured below. The rest was just too uncomfortable for my body, not even my toes could handle it.

This was the hottest of them all at 103 deg F.

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They also have a cold refreshing pool just behind the others to give your body a chilling shock after being in the hot waters for awhile. No more than 30 mins in the hot springs was the rule. But once your body has acclimated to the heat, jumping into those cold waters can be freezing!

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Cold Waters and Canyoneering

The next day we booked a canyoneering tour from Desafio adventure company. If you haven’t been on one before, you should try it at least once in your lifetime! If you love the outdoors, if you seek that adrenaline rush, if you want to challenge yourself, canyoneering (or canyoning) is the perfect activity.

We started out early in the morning, got picked up from our hotel and then proceeded to “base camp”. We got lucky there were only six people, including us, for that day. I heaved a huge sigh of relief. That means no long waits for everyone to be done.

The drive to the drop off point was super bumpy riding in one of their “jungle limos”. You have to grab a hold of something otherwise you would probably fall off your seat while your body sways back and forth as your ride navigates seemingly endless waves of rocky roads.

Once there, you get fitted with a harness and a helmet and the team briefs you for the safety orientation. After that, it is all systems go!

What exactly is canyoneering/canyoning?

It is trekking through a river, over rocks, boulders and fallen trees…

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Climbing up and going down wet slippery rocks…

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Rapelling down a 150 ft or a 200 ft waterfall… or more!

Jumping into a refreshingly cool pool of water…

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And just enjoying the awesomeness of nature and each other!

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It only took us about 4 hours and at the end, back at their drop off point, was lunch waiting for us.

Which activity do you think you would enjoy the most? The hot springs or the canyoneering? Ultimate relaxation or pure adventure?

Quickie Quad Quests: Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

ATVs or all terrain vehicles… those powerful 4 wheelers, also known as quads, come in many different sizes and shapes. It is usually used for recreation driving off road in the dirt or mud, mostly, the dirtier and wetter the better the experience.

Though in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, an idyllic coastal community paradise where roads are so bumpy and full of pot holes, quads are a convenient means of transportation. So aside from the ATV rentals or ATV tours available, locals can be seen doing their daily business on their quads with a basket or crate at the backseat for storage.

One rainy afternoon after an amazing lunch of local food, we decided to explore the area beyond our hostel. Of course, the rain would make it harder but the sun eventually showed up and we were ecstatic! After three days, there was only so much yoga my hubby can take. He was kicking to do some adrenaline action.

It was our first time to be on an ATV. My hubby was driving and I was just perfectly content to be on the backseat. He had a quick driving lesson up and down the little road and in ten minutes we were on our way!

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The goals of this trip: to check out Montezuma, a hippie beachside town, and that huge banyan tree somewhere along the way. No other specific itineraries, just go and enjoy the drive.

As we drove south past the busy town center, houses and buildings became more sparse and the scenery turned more rural and green. Potholes and muddy roads notwithstanding, the bumpy ride amused us to no end. We thought we got lost several times because there was no one else on the road and road signs were hard to come by, but still, we carried on our way amidst tall trees and rolling hills.

 

 

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We made a left from Mal Pais, the town 5 kms. after Santa Teresa to get to Cabuya on the other side of the Nicoya peninsula. Watch out for the road signs here! From Cabuya, turn left and proceed to Montezuma, about 10 kms. A few minutes down the road will bring you to the famed El Higueron de Cabuya or the biggest banyan tree I have ever seen. I was super excited over this than getting to Montezuma, honestly. But before that, we had a false alarm earlier mistaking another tree for THE big one, it was pretty much a tall tree but not as big as I pictured it would be. As you can see, we were excitedly taking photos.

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Duh. Wrong tree!

 

 

So can you imagine my surprise when this ginormous tree came into view? I poked and poked my hubby telling him to stop, stop, stop, oh my God, oh my God… Wow!!! (umm, yes, really, I sounded that way)

No one knows how old this tree is. Right before we left, I whispered to the tree to stay alive as long as it can…

We went on and drove past hidden beaches, scenic coastlines and not a whole lot of tourists until we got to the town of Montezuma. Nah, it didn’t impress me that much so we just continued on driving. From Montezuma, make another left to get to the town of Cobano, 8 kms away. This was a bigger town, lots of people, vehicles and buildings. We reached this main intersection and we were not sure where to go, we might have missed the sign or something so this was where my limited Spanish came into play. I told my hubby to approach this kind looking elderly lady and I asked her “donde esta Santa Teresa?” She gave me a big smile and pointed to us the correct direction. “Muchas gracias!” Making a left at the intersection would take you back to Santa Teresa.

We reached town just before sunset, all in all it took us about 4 hours to drive around the tip of the peninsula. We did three river crossings (they were more like streams), and that was some splashy fun! My butt was sore and my legs were almost numb from sitting at the backseat even if we did stop at intervals to stretch. We ended our day eating pizza at a popular restaurant by the beach where there were lots of surfers and beachgoers frolicking about. A busy scene yet a relaxing one when people watching and sunsets are involved.

Do you like going on spontaneous adventures? Let’s go!