Date of Entry: January 26th 2017
Date of Writing: February 13th 2018
I wake up early and have a nice breakfast then step outside the hostel, sunscreen up and wait for the van to pick me up for my two part tour today, the adventure to Blue Falls Canyon (Paraiso Escondido) and then the luxurious relaxation of Baldi hot springs, a place I visited 12 years ago and still lives in my mind like a dream. As I wait I snap some photos Of Arenal shining under a sapphire early morning sky.
Soon enough I’m picked up by a small van and joined by a pair of Argentinean friends for our small group tour. I watch the scenery zoom by as we leave the city behind and head further up into the mountains. Before long we make a stop at a seemingly non descript place, a small dirty stream running along side the road. I can’t figure out why until our guide points out some tiny heads in the stream, a group of very young baby caiman are there with their mother keeping a protective eye over them. It’s fascinating to watch them experimenting with swimming, so fascinating in fact that it takes me several minutes to realize I’m standing on an ant nest and my leg is now covered with ants, and they have started to bite me. It takes a lot of frantic slapping and shaking to get my leg clean. The ant bites hurt but are nothing serious and I’ve got images of waterfalls in my mind so don’t even think about not continuing.
Maybe 90 minutes after leaving La Fortuna we get to our final destination, climbing out of the van, meeting some friendly cows, getting changed into our mandatory equipment and grabbing what we’ll need for the canyoning too. The views in these lush green mountains are gorgeous and keep us going as we hike a gentle uphill for the first half hour or so.
Eventually we cut into the forest and get our first glimpse of the intensely blue river. We’re still quite a bit downstream from the main falls though and as we go the trail bends away from and back to the river over and over, offering tantalizing glimpses of the icy cold waters. Even in the mountains it’s very warm and I’m eager to refresh myself, but we’ve still got a short ways to go.
After maybe another half an hour of scrambling along a barely existent path the four of us come to the main attraction and my goodness is it incredible, photos cannot hope to do it justice, as my breath is taken away as I stumble over the rocks to the few costa rican families who are here, just eager to get into the water, though I’ve been warned it is very cold, and the dry shirt is mandatory for insurance purposes (though it sees silly considering I’ve swum in Antarctica.).
We all get into the water, and I lead the way towards the heart of the falls, tracing the pool’s edge along the rocks and fighting the intense chilling cold but loving it all the more as tiny little icy daggers start to fall on my face. My goodness I love waterfalls, and last time I was in La Fortuna I didn’t even visit one, though we did still have an amazing time. The surreal blue colour of the water makes me feel like I’m in another world in the moment and as I edge myself under the main flow of the falls I’m almost driven under the surface but hold onto the rock and revel in the joy of this incredible place.
Once I leave I get my Argentinean friends to snap some photos of me including a paint me jack which seems to amuse the costa rican families nearby.
Now I just want to stay at the falls, canyoning can be fun but I want to remain in this otherworldly place as long as I can, and I’ve been told that I could when I booked the tour,but the guides don’t come back here and won’t let me try the trail back alone, so I have no choice, but it’s kind of like choosing between two new countries to visit, you’re going to love it either way. And as we scramble over rapids, walk over fallen tree longs and jump into ice cold strangely luminescent blue water I start to feel almost glad I had to come with them.
After an exhausting hour plus of making our way downstream we scramble up a muddy slope and rejoin the trail back to the car where we meet our old friend the cow, get changed, and head a short distance up the road to a tiny local restaurant that serves up simple but utterly delicious food. I eat my fill, but still want more.
As we head back down towards La Fortuna we pass so many signs for different waterfalls and I find myself hoping that one day I’ll come back here with a rented car and a few days to properly explore. In case any of you should have the chance here’s some pictures to give you names and phone numbers to help plan your trip.
As we come back into the city we’re treated to a stunning sunset beside the ever impressive Arenal volcano. It’s a beautiful picture to return to and as my body is starting to ache I feel happy I’ve decided to drop the 50 USD or so to go to Baldi Hot springs. After three weeks of hard fast travel my body is sore and it will be wonderful to get some volcanic relaxation.
I’m left at the Red Lava offices while they arrange for someone to drive me to the resort outside of town. I get there, show my ticket (which includes dinner buffet), get changed in the locker room and head out to explore this stunning spa and resort nestled at the foot of Arenal Volcano. Much like the city of La Fortuna, the resort has grown too. There’s more pools, waterslides and areas to explore. The naturally warmed volcanic springs are beyond relaxing and the setting is incredible. I don’t normally go for resort type amenities and have never been in a pure spa, I could get used to a place like this.
At the appointed time I head up to the second story restaurant at the back of the property with amazing starlit night views of Arenal. I find myself wishing it was still active and showing lava, but even without that it’s still beautiful, and the buffet is plentiful and delicious just like you’d expect from a 5 star resort like this. It’s a great night and a great way to unwind after a hard day and exhausting yet amazing past few weeks.
After dinner I hang out as late as I can and find this gem on my way out. If this isn’t art I don’t know what is right? A shared taxi back to the hostel wraps up my adventures in Costa rica. The next day it’s just a series of buses to the San Jose airport, and a flight to Guatamala, which I have to say is one of the most fascinating countries I’ve ever visited. Definitely a favourite of mine. Stay tuned for those adventures.