We had breakfast and then left in a bit of a hurry to meet up with our tour guide for an excursion today. We arrived at Seven Tours to find that I had misunderstood the directions, and we were supposed to have been picked up in Monterrey, about 2 kilometres from our house. The staff were accommodating and said we could do the tour tomorrow.
We decided to take the opportunity to do a hike, Arenal 1968, on our own, as we had planned to do it tomorrow anyway. We set our course in Waze (my new navigation best frenemy) and off we went. We passed through some beautiful areas and saw many hotels and hot springs. At one point, we came upon a traffic jam with cars and people all along the side of the road. My friend realized they had stopped to take photos of a sloth, and one man had the nerve to touch it. We both agreed that we didn’t want to add stress to that sloth’s life and hoped to see one comfortably in nature.
We found the park with ease. An attendant directed us where to park. It was $17 USD per person (with an option for lunch at their restaurant for $29 all-in). We knew we wanted to do lunch in La Fortuna, so we got trail-only tickets and made use of their well-maintained restroom facilities before starting the hike.
I really enjoyed the variety of flora. The start of the hike was more open with fields and scattered trees. We even saw more cows and some plots that looked like gardens.
Then we entered the jungly forest. At times vines draped across the path. We kept our eyes peeled for any signs of life and saw some birds, ducks, lizards, and lots of busy leaf-cutter ants!
As we made our way to the summit, the cover of the jungle receded, and we felt the sun. We saw more and more lava rock. On some parts of the trail, the rock was worn and ground down on other parts it looked like a dried-up, rocky riverbed. Further along, there were heaps of black rock with greenery between on either side.
There was a flag and marker at the summit. And although it didn’t feel as though we’d gone that high (or far), there was a great view across to the lake and where we began the hike. And, of course, there was the view of the volcano (still obscured by clouds).
From the summit, we dipped back down into the jungle and completed the loop back to the start/parking area.
According to ViewRanger, we hiked 5.39 km with a total ascent of 128 m (the maximum elevation was 662 m) in just under 2.5 hours, and we weren’t pushing ourselves. That being said, several people from a German tour group were apparently not taking the heat well and made use of an emergency exit trail shortly after the summit. You can see our exact route on ViewRanger (I forgot to start it right away, so there’s a little gap, but we did start and stop in the same place).
Except for the heat in the exposed areas just before and after the summit, we found it to be a relatively easy hike. I seemed to acquire some new bug bites during the trek. This isn’t unusual for me, and thankfully I’d had the foresight to bring bug spray.
After completing the hike, we hopped back in the car and returned to La Fortuna.
I’d seen a write-up for Organico Fortuna in Lonely Planet. Everything was fresh and, obviously, a lot of thought had been put into the ingredient combinations as the resulting flavours were fantastic. I had a vitamin C bomb smoothie, the green volcano sandwich (which was so full it erupted onto my hands as I ate it, but it was worth the mess) and hummus with chips.
Before leaving La Fortuna, we stopped at a market to pick up some fresh fruits. Then we made our way home.
I think the heat zapped both our energies, so we had a rest when we got home. I especially enjoyed lounging in the hammock in the shade with a breeze.
After the sun went down, we made another stab at finding the restaurant we tried to walk to on the first night, Restaurante Y Hotel Las Tablitas. We had a lovely meal there, including steamed vegetables, salad, a baked plantain slice, cheese, rice, and the yummiest black beans I’ve ever tasted. Monterrey is a small village, and the server didn’t speak English (and our Spanish is limited), but she was very sweet with us and even brought us each a three-layered jello for dessert.
Then it was back home to organize and prepare for our excursion tomorrow.