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kibbles01 Oct 19th, 2020 10:57 AM

La Fortuna and Arenal
I am hoping someone can help me understand the attractions in this area and their locations. If I am spending a few days here (4 nights) what are "free activities" versus what tours should I book / what are must do tours? We are in our 50's and not all super fit. Where should I go for best wildlife? Waterfalls? Hot springs? Hanging bridges? Swimming holes? If I don't have to do a tour I prefer not to, but I do want to see as much wildlife as I can and avoid really busy tourist areas. Travelling in a group of 4 middle January to md-February. We will rent a vehicle and like the idea of exploring. Thank you!!!

volcanogirl Oct 19th, 2020 03:53 PM

I'd recommend staying at the Arenal Observatory Lodge. It's not fancy, but it's comfortable. It's set outside of town by the lake. Lots of wildlife on site, and they offer a free guided hike every morning. We've seen monkeys, toucans, coatis, aracaris, and great curassows there. They have an observation deck and a feeding station where they put fruit out in the morning. Lots of pretty birds come - honeycreepers, tanagers, etc. Don't forget to bring binoculars if you have them.

volcanogirl Oct 19th, 2020 04:00 PM

There are very few free activities. You can do the waterfall hike easily without a guide, but you'll have to pay an entrance fee just like you would at the national parks. The Cano Negro tour with Desafio is a great boat tour you can take to see wildlife; we've done it a few times and have seen caimans, bats, water birds, monkeys, and sloths. You take a van for a couple of hours to get to the boat dropoff point. For natural hot springs, we like Tabacon for upscale and Eco Termales for smaller and charming. Both require an entrance fee. There is a free hot springs used by the locals, but it doesn't have any security, lighting, place to put your things, etc. It's close to Tabacon. If you ask, locals can show you if you're interested. The Hanging Bridges are called Mistico; you can hike it on your own. It's a loop trail. Requires an entrance fee. If you want to learn more about the area or try to increase your chances of seeing wildlife, you can hire a guide. Another spot I like is the Bogarin Trail owned by a local family. It has easy, flat trails and is designed for people who don't want to do a lot of hiking. We saw several sloths there and pretty birds, colorful poison dart frogs, and red-eyed tree frogs. You'll want the guided option so you can see the wildlife; otherwise you'll just walk right pass things. There's not much to the town of La Fortuna, just a few restaurants, shops, a park, a church, etc. I wouldn't spend much time exploring the town itself, better to be out in nature.

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