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The region of La Fortuna & Monteverde are two must-sees in Costa Rica and are among my favorites of this trip. It’s, in my opinion, two of the most beautiful destinations where to see the rich jungle of Costa Rica.💛
The day after our arrival, we took the road to our first stop, La Fortuna. From the road, we could have a first glimpse of the country by passing through various small villages and by crossing the Costa Rican nature. The landscapes were so impressive ! 🤩
Below, you’ll find all the things to do in the area of La Fortuna, but also in the area of Monteverde. ⬇️
1 | Arenal & La Fortuna 🌋
This region is famous for the Arenal volcano national park, the Arenal lake and its tropical forest. La Fortuna is the city at the base of the Arenal volcano. For the record, Arenal refers to the area around the volcano.
You should know that in this region there are a lot of activities to do. Below are some of them.
- Admire the Arenal volcano from the viewpoints
- Hike the 1968 Arenal Trail
- See the waterfall of La Fortuna
- Walk on the suspension bridges of the Mistico Park
- Go zip-lining
- Watch sloths
- Take a night walk to discover the nocturnal fauna
- Enjoy one of the many hot springs
As you can see, there is no time to get bored in this region. That’s why I think it’s best to spent at least 2 nights in La Fortuna.
Some activities we did around Fortuna ✔️
1 |Hike on the Arenal 1968 trail
We hiked on the Arenal 1968 trail. This park is named after the eruption of the Arenal volcano in 1968, one of the most important and crucial events in Costa Rican history.
The eruption destroyed three towns and killed several people, but it also changed the topography of the area. The forest on the western side of the volcano disappeared as the lava took over.
If you are just looking for a nice view on the volcano, go to the Mirador. To get there, you have to walk about 1 km. Once there, this spot offers a beautiful view and there is also a bar overlooking the volcano.
For the hike, there are 2 different trails.
1. Lava flow 1968 Trail: This hike is ±2,5 km through a tropical forest that leads to the lava flows.
2. Forest 1968 Trail: This trail is an extension of the first trail of ±2 km. From the first trail, you can continue on this one that goes around the lake, ‘Los Patos‘. See pictures below on the lake.
To summarize, there are 2 trails. The one of ‘Lava flow 1968‘ and the one of ‘Forest 1968‘. Together they represent a distance of 4.7 km. Each hike can be done with a guide, but we chose to do them by ourselves. We also did both trails.
| The entrance fee is $15. The parking is free.
About the hike
It starts out easy enough, by passing through a forest, but once you enter the real rainforest, you’ll start to see the trail get steeper and steeper.
You’ll see large lava rocks along the way, and then you’ll start walking through a large lava field. This part of the hike is pretty steep, so make sure you have water, and take it easy because you’ll be sweating, especially on a hot day!
If you are lucky, the volcano will not be covered by clouds, and you will have an amazing view of the volcano! Unfortunately, when we went there, the sky was covered, and it started to rain. So we could not see much of the volcano. ⬇️
At the end of the trail, whether it’s the first or the second one, you’ll come across the Mirador El Silencio, as already described above. For me, this is one of the best views of the Arenal volcano. You can sit down at the cafeteria after your hike and enjoying the view overlooking the volcano, which we obviously did. 🤗
| Tip, if you have trouble walking or are not in very good shape, you will find walking sticks at the entrance, which are free.
2 | Mistico hanging bridges 🦜
One of my favorite park during this trip. This park offers a trail through hanging bridges surrounded by a huge rainforest. Out of a total of 16 bridges, 6 are hanging bridges.
The main trail of Mistico is a loop, and is about 3.2 km long. Along the trail, there are many information panels. These help you understand a little about the plants, wildlife and life cycles of the forest. They are especially useful if you do not have a guide, what was our case.
This place is exceptional. The feeling of walking on suspension bridges through the rainforest is incredible. I highly recommend visiting this park.
| The entrance fee is $26. There is free parking at the entrance.
3 | Fortuna waterfall 💦
The Fortuna waterfall is a must-see in Costa Rica. With a height of 75 meters in a bright blue pool, this waterfall is a perfect postcard of the Costa Rican jungle.
The hike to La Fortuna waterfall is done by descending 500 steps. Before descending the steps, there is an observation platform offering a breathtaking view of the waterfall. Don’t miss this spot to take beautiful pictures.
| You can’t swim in front of the waterfall, but down to the left there is a water spot where you can swim.
| The entrance fee is $18, which I think is not cheap to see a waterfall. However, I think it is still worth seeing despite its excessive price. There is a free parking in front of the entrance.
4 | Sloth watching 🦥
We also did a guided tour with Sloth Territory, which is a private reserve protected and maintained by a traditional Costa Rican family.
This activity is done with a qualified guide, with a professional telescope to see them. The trail is accessible to all ages, so it is an activity that the whole family can enjoy.
I found this activity interesting, because the guide gave us a lot of explanations about the sloth’s lifestyle. However, you should not expect to see them from close. We saw them through the telescope of the guide, which in my opinion takes away some magic.
| The duration can vary from 1.5 to 2 hours and the price is $28 per person.
The hot springs 💦
An activity that we did not do because of the weather, and that I regret, is not having been able to relax in one of these hot springs. Around the Arenal volcano, there are many natural hot springs. Many of these hot springs are part of expensive resorts where you can spend a relaxing afternoon. Two of the best known are:
| Tabacon – Admission is $70 per person during the day and $45 after 6pm. You also take the option of eating at the buffet. There is a waterfall inside that is very Instagrammable.
| Baldi – This is the largest hot spring facility in the Arenal Volcano area.
There is also a free hot spring where you can bathe in the river, in the middle of nature, the Free Natural Hot Springs River.
City of La Fortuna 📍
I fell in love with this small town. I felt extremely comfortable there as soon as I arrived. The town is full of bars, souvenir stores and tour stands. Even in the evening, I did not feel insecure. I recommend you to stay there when you are in the area!
My food addresses in La Fortuna 🍴
| Pollo Fortunea for lovers of barbecue and chicken, go to one of the two restaurants, located in the heart of La Fortuna. We enjoyed our dinner.
| Chocolate Fusion Chocolateria – A kind of café with many assortments of chocolate, but also hot and cold drinks, like fresh fruit juices. The Papaya one was delicious. Not to be missed.
| Soda La Hormiga – Local food at a good price.
Where to stay in La Fortuna? 😴
We stayed 2 nights at the Hotel Selina la Fortuna, located right in the center of town. This hotel offers several activities such as yoga classes, cooking classes, Spanish classes, salsa classes, … I especially recommend it for solo travelers, because every night the hotel offers meetings moments around a campfire.
2 | Monteverde 🌿
After the Arenal region we went to Monteverde located at about 3h30 drive from La Fortuna. A beautiful winding road through the mountains brings you to Santa Elena, the village near Monteverde.
Things to do in Monteverde ✔️
It is a region of mountains and greenery which is also famous for its thrills! That’s why we went there to do zip-lining.
Many agencies offer excursions. We opted for the one of 100% adventura, recommended by our hotel. This agency offer a trail with stronger sensations compared for example to the agencies of Selvatura or Skyadventure which are rather softer and more for families.
I loved the activity! I did the longest zip line in Costa Rica, which is 1590 m long, and while lying down in Superman mode (see last picture). The strong sensations were well present. 🤙
| Count about €50 for this type of activity.
Other must-do activities in the region are a hike in the Santa Elena or Monteverde reserves. We didn’t do it, so I couldn’t say more, but here you will get more information.
The village near Monteverde where all the hotels and restaurants are located is called Santa Elena. This village is very small, but charming.
My food addresses in Santa Elena 🍴
| Gustico – Excellent service, cheap and authentic local food.
| Raulito’s – This is a local rotisserie, where they serve fresh and tasty roasted chicken every day, with homemade corn tortillas, beans, rice and homemade chimichurri… It was really cheap and delicious!
Where to stay in Monteverde? 😴
We stayed one night at the Monteverde Country Lodge. This hotel is located not far from the center of Santa Elena. The staff was very nice.
| If you plan to visit the reserve of Santa Elena or the one of Monteverde, I advise staying 2 nights.
What was cool, too, is that we could enjoy the spa of one of their partner hotel. It was a nice moment and, on top of that, we had an amazing sunset.
Find also my other articles on Costa Rica. 🤗
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