In 2015 I visited Costa Rica, and after our hike in Monteverde, we embarked on the adventure of reaching La Fortuna. Ready to depart at 11 AM. According to the navigation, the journey would take 3.5 hours over 58 kilometers. So long for such a small distance? That couldn’t mean anything good. And indeed, it wasn’t.

Driving from Monteverde to La Fortuna

The roads were filled with rocks and mud, a Dakar rally for 58 kilometers in a rental car without four-wheel drive, a guarantee for an adventure.

Navigating through sinkholes, large rocks, muddy roads, and stray dogs. Could it get any more sophisticated? Yes, indeed. Suddenly, we reached a T-junction, and the navigation indicated to take the right road, a stairway to hell.

Why? It started off nicely as we had to drive over a wooden bridge across a stream with only a small fence on the right side. Just a few planks stacked together, probably capable of handling no more than 5 cars per day. It only got better from there.

Horses spooked and half ran towards our car. Streams with rocks in them that we had to power through with a run-up, nothing but muddy roads for the rest. It might have been a sign when we didn’t encounter anyone except a lost cowboy on horseback with three dogs.

Ultimately, we literally hit a wall. A steep hill on the left filled with stones and on the right with deep mud. Tried it twice, but our little car couldn’t handle it. There you stand! Wisely decided to turn back. So, tearing through the streams, the scared horses, and the rickety bridge. At the famous T-junction, we chose the other road, with success! Another 70 km in the opposite direction, around a lake in front of the El Arenal volcano.

Arriving at El Arenal Volcano

The view was superb, and the roads mostly asphalt. What a relief! The journey still took 3 hours, but we were already relieved with the civilized world roads.

Stopped along the way for a cappuccino, where the restaurant had a beautiful garden. Views over the lake and surrounding nature. Birds and monkeys everywhere again, cool!

Arrived at our hostel, Essence Arenal, around 4 PM. Beautiful surroundings! Views of the volcano, a private herbal tea garden, a jacuzzi, and a shared area with a local farm, providing them with plenty of vegetarian food.

After enjoying the view, the jacuzzi, and the herbal tea, joined the hostel’s dinner.

Hammock view over El Arenal

We were put to work, making our own kind of tacos with corn dough. Flatten the balls ourselves, potato filling in one, and beans with cheese in the other. This was then fried. For the main course, we got a vegetarian soup with cheese. Then the main event, our tacos with vegetables and banana. For dessert, a coconut cake. Powerful Costa Rican food that tasted amazing! This hostel is already our favorite place to sleep in terms of surroundings!

Day 15 La Fortuna / El Arenal

Waking up and seeing the volcano in all its glory without clouds, that’s a good morning! After breakfast at our hostel, which is a must because there’s really nothing else within a 2 km radius, we headed to the hot springs. There’s a place where you don’t have to pay an entrance fee for an expensive spa, which is fine because we’re not interested in all that stuff around it.

In a secluded path, we reached the spring, wonderfully warm water flowing. Like a pool with a natural current, but without chlorine. After an hour, we were ready for something else. After some driving, because yes, all roads except the 80 km road consist of rocks and sinkholes, we returned to the hostel.

Relaxing in the hammock with a view of the lake and volcano, then tried the hiking trails of our hostel and the adjacent farm. Private coffee plants, a fish pond, a natural pool, and a beautiful view. Afterward, we found a trail that led into the forest, super cool! Through rough terrain, past monkeys and birds.

Then dinner, this time we got to make our own naan bread. After dessert, went to sleep because it’s beautiful here, but damn, it’s such a remote place that makes it a bit dull. Tomorrow morning, we move on, heading to the capital San JosĆ© to have a night out and fly to Mexico on Sunday morning.