Rainforest hike and Baldi Hot Springs

La Fortuna Travel Blog

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Downtown La Fortuna

Breakfast buffet this morning, then we catch the free bus ride into La Fortuna.  We will have three hours in town before the next bus will take us back. 

                The town of La Fortuna is much calmer than Quepos.  There are a lot fewer bars and a much safer feel.  Not that Quepos felt unsafe, it could be we are just getting more comfortable with the country.  We arrive in town around 10:45 and began our tour of souvenir shops.  Some nice crafts and wood carvings including some nice ceramic plates and bowls.  We will wait till we get out of town before finding out that this was the best price on those plates that we would have loved to take home, but we are too cheap to buy them someplace else for 5 bucks more.

Church in center of La Fortuna
 

                Lunch at the Lava Lounge with three stray dogs.  It’s funny, no matter what country I go to, people don’t worry about stray dogs and dogs wandering through the restaurant.  These dogs also have learned if they want any food not to bark either, so they just have a presence but are not annoying or anything.

                1:30 we return to the hotel and began packing our backpack.  We are scheduled to leave at 3:45 and of course we will actually be leaving at 4.  During this $75 package tour that is supposed to last six hours, we will be sitting for about one hour just waiting for our bus.

nice doggy
 

When we finally do leave we meet our guide.  His name is Noah, who looks older than 60 (but don’t let age fool you, he is a great guide) and it appears we are the only people signed up for the tour.  So we will be going out just the three of us.  For the next 1.5 hours we will have a private tour into the rainforest.  On our drive out we will stop to see some Howler Monkeys in the trees along the roadside. 

                We begin the hike on top of a hill.  We actually cross a cow pasture to see a moss covered lake and Noah points out a flower/plant called a “touch me not.”  This is one of the coolest plants I have seen.

Guided hike near Arenal Volcano
  It is very small low to the ground and when you touch it the leaves fold up to protect itself and they wont open again until sunlight the next day. 

                We then backtrack to get to the trailhead, all along the way Noah is sharing information with us and it is all fascinating.  Apparently he learned English and his nature skills from some US teachers who came to Costa Rica to train locals in ecotourism.  Now he is one of the tourists’ favorites because of his knowledge and friendly personality.  I would recommend him to anyone in a heartbeat.  As we continued walking we got a strong smell of some guava fruit that had fallen from a tree.

Heading into the Rainforest
  Unfortunately we were not able to eat any of it because it is so acidic as a result of all the sulfur getting into the atmosphere from the volcano creating acid rain.

                Soon we found a group of Howler Monkeys playing in the trees.  From a distance they sound like a bunch of angry, raspy dogs which can be very intimidating.  Noah continued to make monkey sounds as we walked though so we would not startle them.  He told us he was taking a group through in January and they startled some Howler Monkeys who then started urinating and throwing poop on everyone in the group.  Luckily we had no similar incidents.  Throughout the hike we would be startled by sudden loud noises coming from Arenal Volcano and sometimes as we looked up we could see large boulders tumbling quickly down the mountain.

Leafcutter Ants
  This is why people are not allowed to climb the mountain, it is much too dangerous. 

                Shortly after the Howler Monkeys we actually entered the rain forest.  I received a few more bug bites in here but it continued to be a great hike.  Noah showed us a large plant, about five feet tall, broke off a leaf and had us smell it.  It was citronella, like all the candles back home that keep mosquitos away.  Then he broke another leaf that looked identical, this one smelled like mint.  This was poison ivy, he claimed if he held his breath when touching it he would not be affected.  Good Luck with that!

                Along the rest of the hike we would see leaf cutter ants, termites, fish tail plants, elephant ear plants (aka poor man’s umbrella) and an eyelash viper.

Eyelash Viper
  The viper was coiled up, maybe 10 inches long.  Apparently they are quite poisonous and it was just chilling out on the edge of the trail.  If you are not careful you could have easily bumped into it.

                After finishing the hike we waited a good 20 min if not more for our ride to come pick us up.  Then we went over to Baldi hot springs and spa and arrived around 6:50.  We would only have about 2 hours and 40 minutes, but that will turn out to be fine for one night.  Our dinner of an all you can eat buffet was included and we were able to spend the rest of the two hours in the hot pools.  All the water is heated naturally from the Volcano and then cooled.

Moon above Arenal
  The pools further up the hill into the resort the hotter they got. 

                Pool #1 was sooooo hot.  Steam was rising out of it and we could not stay in for more than 10 seconds.  It was painful (and we were still recovering from sunburn).  So we went down one pool, which was cooler but still hot.  It felt like a nice hot tub with concrete & tile chairs to lounge in and was very far from the main entrance we could hardly hear any music coming from the resort.  This was very relaxing and our favorite spot.

                Baldi did have three water slides, and being from Wisconsin, home of Noah’s Ark (Nations largest waterpark) we had to try these slides out.

Sunset at end of the hike
  The life guards warned us the top slide on the left was fast so you were not allowed to lay down.  You must sit up.  Ok, we have done many waterslides so not to worry.  Brenda goes down that slide and I went down the “slow” slide on the right.  The slide on the right was definitely NOT slow.  I could see nothing, and as I got to the bottom a sharp turn flipped me over on my stomach smashing my glasses against the side of the slide.  I thought for sure they would break.   Brenda came out her slide to the left and we decided it would probably be illegal in the states.  Even though you are told to sit up, there is a quick drop off so steep it is impossible to stay in the sitting position.  Brenda came out almost losing her top and as we watched other people come out they don’t go into the water like most water slides, in stead they would come out like a bullet and hydroplane across the surface of the water.
Top pools at Baldi
  This is the only waterslide I have ever watched full grown men come out, stand up and drop an “f-bomb”   Everybody was yelling in this slide, no matter how tough they were.  It was Awesome!

                The rest of the pools were quite calm.  Some with cold water pools to cool your body temperature and some with loud music and swim up bars.  It was definitely a fun time but $150 for two of us with lots of waiting time we thought was a little much.  In town we think you can buy tickets for just Baldi, or set up your own hike with Noah with a taxi and you would end up saving lots of money.

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Downtown La Fortuna
Downtown La Fortuna
Church in center of La Fortuna
Church in center of La Fortuna
nice doggy
nice doggy
Guided hike near Arenal Volcano
Guided hike near Arenal Volcano
Heading into the Rainforest
Heading into the Rainforest
Leafcutter Ants
Leafcutter Ants
Eyelash Viper
Eyelash Viper
Moon above Arenal
Moon above Arenal
Sunset at end of the hike
Sunset at end of the hike
Top pools at Baldi
Top pools at Baldi
Outside Baldi Hot Springs and Spa
Outside Baldi Hot Springs and Spa
ssshhhhh, its sleeping
ssshhhhh, its sleeping
La Fortuna
photo by: jeannajumps