The journey from Cahuita to La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano was 245km and took 5h30, one of our longest transfers. Sam’s powers of conversation were put to the test, and with 2 women from Maine (USA), and two Swedish couples, she managed to hold conversation for the duration of the trip.
We followed the Atlantic coast, and headed inwards past Siquirres on Route 32, before driving up and around Braulio Carillo national park, and higher still, past Juan Castro Blanco national park. The views from Aguas Zarcas, looking down route 250 are astounding. Around here the trees were in full bloom, and we passed a few that were covered in glorious yellow flowers, unlike anything we’d ever seen; they were either golden trumpet trees or corteza ones. Eventually the conical picture-perfect Arenal volcano appeared on the horizon, and we were all astounded by its prominence and beauty, even if its peak was shrouded in cloud.
For three nights we’d be staying at the luxurious Casa Luna, sat in the foothills of Arenal Volcano and close to La Fortuna town. We were lucky enough to have a first floor room with outdoor balcony that was also close to the pool. The views all look out onto the towering volcano, framed by lusciously landscaped tropical trees and flowers.
Like at Atlantida lodge, we were given two very comfortable double beds. But now we also had aircon, a minibar, a fridge, a safe and a TV. We don’t watch TV on holiday, but I made an exception this time – you’ll soon learn why. On the wall, an abstract painting of hummingbirds, outside real hummingbirds, chirping and hovering.
You can sit at the bar whilst in the pool, and the water is cool and refreshing. Just behind there are also 5 small and private jacuzzis – found via a little unmarked path; we didn’t discover them until it was almost time to leave. There’s a spa, and a little trail through the woods that goes down to the river.
Keen to make the most of our time, we perused the selection of tours that the hotel recommended. Many were offered by Eco Terra, and we booked an early morning hanging bridges birdwatching tour with them, before our pre-planned volcano hike and hot springs (perhaps not the best time for Sam to have sunburn).
We made a habit of sitting out on the balcony in the mornings, watching the tropical birds go about their daily business. One of Sam’s favourites was the brilliant black and red Cherrie’s Tanager. There were also Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds, Montezuma Oropendolas, copious yellow and black flycatchers, an inquisitive grey knecked wood rail who liked to poke its beak in everywhere, and a friendly golden-olive woodpecker.
During our first night in La Fortuna I became quite ill, presumably with food poisoning somewhere in Cahuita. We’re not sure exactly what caused it, Sam was fine, and we’d shared most of our meals, and I’m usually the more cautious eater. Anyway, I had food poisoning and it took me out for the entirety of our La Fortuna segment – 3 days in bed; no trips for me, no food for me; thankfully our hotel room was comfortable – and the Casa Luna staff were kind and caring, bringing chamomile (manzanilla in Spanish) tea, trying to make me as comfortable as possible.
So, while I was in bed, either sleeping or watching HBO, or dozing on the balcony, semi-lucid and exhausted, Samantha did all the exciting things. What follows are Samantha’s adventures of La Fortuna. I could describe the walls of the hotel room in detail, but I don’t think you want to read that.