Our next adventure to La Fortuna/ Arenal area began with our transit from our Lodge to the Drake Bay airstrip. Our lodge organized the transfer, and the staff made sure that we were in the right place at the right time. Transfer consisted of a short boat trip from the lodge's inlet to Drake Bay for a wet landing. Then we put our shoes back on and were met by a mini bus with other tourists. We then drove through narrow, winding, bumping, pot-holed track to a river almost completely submerged by water. We disembarked from our mini bus and were met by a 4wd vehicle that forded the river, and took us to the landing strip.
Again we used Nature Air for the domestic flight from Drake Bay to La Fortuna airstrip.
Here we wait at the "terminal." Fortunately prior to this trip we had discovered the "One Bag" philosophy of travel. So luckily, none of these behemoths belonged to us!
Here our baggage is being loaded into our plane.
While the airstrip and facilities were kind of crude by USA standards, I was terribly impressed with Nature Air's service. I didn't feel at all unsafe, or insecure. Given how slow, winding, and bumpy Costa Rica roads are, I do highly recommend this alternative approach. I think I felt safer in the air than being a passenger on the roads! And of course instead of taking 8 hours to get to one's destination, you can reach it in next to no time!
Our flight to La Fortuna (Arenal) included a transfer at San Jose. Here we were again truly impressed with Nature Air's service - we were met by an employee as we disembarked our plane, and were escorted to the check in counter, through security, and to our gate.
This is a photo of Kevin taking pictures through the window of the plane.
Views from the air...
View of Arenal Volcano (partially obscured by cloud) from our approach to the La Fortuna airstrip.
We were extraordinarily fortunate to actually have views of the two peaks.
We spent a total of 3 nights at this hotel. We found our rooms comfortable, the gardens (and bird life) beautiful, and the breakfasts tasty and filling. The hotel is some distance from La Fortuna (a small little town with a square, park, church and a number of tourist places, soda's and restaurants.) We were told by the front desk that a taxi one way into town would cost $11. So any trip into town and back would be $22 plus whatever you spent in town on food and what not. It actually turned out to be cheaper to simply eat a meal (usually after our siesta) at around 3/ 4pm than go into town.
We had pre-booked two half day excursions while at Arenal - the first was a hike to the Arenal Volcano. Our guide met us at hotel reception at the agreed to time after a filling buffet breakfast. Our guide was bilingual, punctual and polite. We had no other guests so for the first excursion we had basically a private tour with Oscar, our guide. Our mini bus took us into the park (park fees and water were included.) We stopped off at the entrance to take advantage of the facilities as there are no restrooms on the hike to see the Arenal Volcano. The path was flat, and easy to navigate. We followed the path through mostly secondary forest, and areas where prior lava flows had occurred (but bamboo forests had started to claim it back.) We saw an amazing amount of critters, and beautiful plants, and flowers. We learned about prior volcanic eruptions, and were shown evidence of how lava flows, and boulders had impacted and altered the landscape.
I just had to have this photo of us "entering the zone of high volcanic risk". Very cool.
The only part that was not flat, was the last part which was the path we followed over dark volcano lava rocks to get to the viewing site.
This is the view from the site.
But there is more to this than simply a view of a volcano, provided you are prepared to take your time. One thing that I don't understand is how grumpy other tourists seemed to be, and how rushed they appeared. We took the time to admire the light on this spider web.
And when we got back to our room this is what waited for us...
a Costa Rican Elephant!
The second excursion booked was a half day trip to the Hanging Bridges. Again we were met on time at reception. We had the same guide as the day before, and this time a full mini bus load full of other tourists. The excursion included the entrance fee into the park, and drinking water.
I am not really fond of heights which is why we didn't go zip lining. I think the hanging bridges experience is really not for anyone who is afraid of heights. Oddly enough I was not nervous.
This is a photo on our way to the park. Lake Arenal is a man made lake but it is beautiful.
This is a photo of Kevin and I, and in the background is the volcano covered by clouds.
A better photo of the little frog taken by Kevin... (below.)
View from canopy...
Our hotel's gardens were very beautiful and we enjoyed taking in the colors, and watching the birds.
The next day our transfer (Interbus) picked us up on time as scheduled at reception and we made our way by shuttle to Tamarindo for our final couple of days in Costa Rica.