Arenal Hanging Bridges Park Feb 2019

From Monteverde, we drive about 3.5 hours northeast to La Fortuna and the Arenal Volcano National Park.  La Fortuna (The Fortune) was named for the fertile lands in the area and is the jumping off point to visit the surrounding sites such as Lake Arenal, La Fortuna waterfall, the rainforest, and Arenal Volcano.  There are numerous hotels, restaurants, and shops here in this small town with views of the Arenal Volcano only 10 km away.   Arenal Volcano was one of the world’s ten most active volcanoes and has been dormant since 2010.  It used to erupt on average 41 times a day.  Because of the proximity to the volcano, there are many natural hot springs in the area such as Tabacon River, Ecotermales Hot Springs, and numerous others on hotel properties.  There are loads of activities to choose from at this adventure town from night walks in the rainforest to hanging bridge walks to zip-lining to rafting to volcano hikes to hot springs and so on.  We stayed at the Nayara Spa & Gardens which is a member of the Small Leading Hotels of the World and located inside the rainforest with views of the Arenal Volcano.  The casitas are spacious and comfortable and the food at the hotel is not bad.  There is an adults only section called The Springs but since we are out and about most of the time, we chose just to stay in the main area.

DSCF4058Coffee House at Nayara

DSCF3987Pit stop at Cafe y Macademia with views of Lake Arenal enroute to La Fortuna

DSCF3986Lake Arenal

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One of the must-dos here in the area is the Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges located in the Arenal Volcano National Park.  The reserve is about 600 acres in size and has a large variety of birds and animals.  The trail itself is 3.1 km in length with 16 bridges of which  6 are suspension bridges.  The advantage here is you will get to experience the rainforest from the ground all the way up to the tops of the tallest trees and as a result get to observe closely more species.  Because of its location close to the Arenal Volcano, the forest has been affected by acid rain and ash fall for thousands of years.  There are plants that have adapted and species that grow on rocky soils and acidic soils.  There are about 250 different species of birds such as the white hawk, great curassow, rufous motmot, rufous-tailed jacamar, black-throated trogon, etc.  The rainforest is also teeming with thousands of insects and butterflies as well as reptiles such as the poisonous dart frog and mammals such as the howler monkeys, spider monkeys, and the three-toed sloths.

DSCF4055Map of Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park

DSCF4054Arenal Volcano

DSCF4006Do go to the park early before the large groups arrive

DSCF4001The strange looking furry helicocnia

DSCF4644Colorful slaty tailed trogon, a cousin of my favorite resplendent quetzal.

 

DSCF4022My guide with his scope leading the way.  Do hire a guide because most of the things I wouldn’t have seen without the guide pointing them out.

DSCF4014Broccoli Tree

DSCF4012Anteaters are close cousins to the sloth and are supposedly not easy to see

 

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DSCF4649Cute little motmot bird

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DSCF4662Eyelash viper is the second most poisonous snake in Costa Rica

DSCF4663White line bats sleeping on the side of a tree

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DSCF4669Hummingbird nest under the leaves

DSCF4677Eyelash viper

DSCF4680Leaf-cutter ants carrying leaves home.  They actually don’t eat the leaves but instead use them to cultivate a fungal garden.

 

La Fortuna is filled with natural hot springs formed from the volcanic eruptions.  Tabacon is one of the more popular higher end hot springs in the area.  It is an entirely natural hot spring where there is no use of pumps to reheat or circulate the water.  The pools are landscaped to blend in with the surrounding jungle and the Tabacon River.  Another popular hot spring is the Ecotermales hot springs with several different pools and waterfalls.  Wherever you end up going, do put aside some time to soak in the hot springs after all the walking and do book in advance especially during the peak travel season.

Other than the day hikes to see the flora, fauna, and wildlife in the area, there are also several night walks to see the nocturnal creatures such as frogs, spiders, bats, and sloths.  Next post will be on my frog watching night walk at the Oasis Arenal Ecolodge.  Stay tuned!

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