Snorkeling and spending the morning swimming in the Pacific Ocean created a wonderful ending to my time at Playa Hermosa and it was time to head inland. Costa Rica has incredible bio-diversity, but one must leave the serenity of the beach to explore it. I rolled up all my belongings and filled up the backpack, made sure my water bottle was full and checked out of the hotel. Time to jump back in the car for another drive through Costa Rica:
Here is a map of this days drive:
The landscape changed from rather flat to mountainous over the course of a roughly four hour drive. I passed through small towns and drove through so many shades of green I lost count. Here’s a quick view of part of the drive:
The highlight of the drive was a brand new, perfectly smooth paved road! After all of my trip planning and blog reading about travelling in Costa Rica by car, the one thing that always stuck out was how horrible the road conditions are throughout the country. As with anywhere, some parts are worse than others. I can honestly say that the roads in Michigan are worse than anything I encountered on this excursion.
Just over halfway to my destination, and around “just another curve in the road”, this popped into view:
Here’s another snapshot of the map. The road was windy and hugged the edge of the lake. Talk about spectacular views!
I left the beach just after 12p and arrived in La Fortuna just before 4:30p. It was a truly gorgeous drive through hills and mountains with a lake at the base of the view. I had arrived at my destination: La Fortuna, Gateway to the incredible Arenal Volcano. That’s right I left the beach to go play and explore a volcano. Adventure. Travel.
I checked into the hostel, dropped off a few things and headed out to use up the last hour of daylight. The major attractions were closing up for the day, so I ventured out to find a Butterfly garden. It was clearly noted on the map I had received from the registration desk and it was not clearly noted by any road sign that I ever saw. With sunset and a few rain clouds fast approaching, my choices of activities was dwindling. Adventure travel doesn’t disappoint if you’re curious enough to keep on going. I drove around a bit and ended up here:
Eco Termales Hot Springs (their photos, not mine) http://ecotermalesfortuna.cr
What an incredible find! Natural hot springs!
After a few days at the beach, a long drive and an unplanned, dark evening looming, this was so much more than I expected to find! There is a fully stocked bar available at the pools, so a Pina Colada or Imperial while you swim is a reality rather than a dream. Towels and a state of the art locker room with showers is available, as is a full service restaurant. That’s right. After my relaxing swim in the pools, I wandered over to the restaurant where a full buffet dinner was waiting. Local cuisine, freshly squeezed juices, and a corner table with a view of the gardens. What a surprise find and a fabulous end to this day! Total price for the natural hot springs, Imperial and dinner? $45.00. Not the cheapest day of the trip, and absolutely worth every penny.
Fully relaxed and ready for a quiet nights sleep, I headed back to my hostel. My accommodations for the night were comfortable and clean, but noisy. I had transferred from a hotel to a hostel and there was a dramatic change in atmosphere. My mornings had began at daybreak and ended quickly after sunset while at the beach. In Costa Rica when the sun goes down and dusk ends, it is pitch black dark outside. There is not 9pm dark and then midnight dark. It’s just black as night as of about 8:30pm. At the hostel, the party began at 9 and ended around 1am. Needless to say, it wasn’t the best night of sleep this trip, but the relaxation from the hot springs made it not seem so bad. Time to start another day…..