Rainforest hike and Baldi Hot Springs
La Fortuna Travel Blog› entry 6 of 16 › view all entries
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.