Costa Rica Highlights: La Fortuna Waterfall

Look at this waterfall, would you?  It’s not something you would ever see in nature in Florida.  You might see something similar at a theme park or hotel but that’s just not the same.

The La Fortuna waterfall was not too far from our hotel.  We located it on a map and decided to drive over.  Of course, most roads in Costa Rica are not named.  Locals rely on landmarks to get around.  Take the paved road to the mango tree and take a left on the gravel path.

The hotel’s map showed a road leading to the waterfall so we thought it would be pretty straight forward getting there.  And it was but we weren’t prepared for how far we would have to travel on semi-paved and unpaved surfaces.  After 15 minutes of bumping along (thank goodness for our 4×4 SUV) without a sign of life or a sign indicating that we were indeed on the right road to the waterfall, I began to get a little nervous that we were lost.  J, who had been to Costa Rica before, was completely confident that we were going the right way.

He was right.  Eventually the unpaved path dead ended into the waterfall’s visitor center.  It’s amazing how you can go from a remote gravel trail through the middle of no where and to a lovely visitor center with a big paved parking lot.  I’d never been so happy to see a ticket taker in my life.

We paid our entry fee and hit the steepest trail I have ever experienced.  I’m not a seasoned hiker by any means but I think you’d have a hard time finding a steeper trail that does not require rock climbing.  It was not such a big deal getting down to the canyon floor since gravity was working with us.  But with every step down I kept thinking that it was going to be a real bitch getting back up.  Some of the steps were 18″ or more.

We could see the waterfall in the distance as we descended into the canyon.

When we finally made it to the bottom we were amazed by how many people were down there.  And we kicked ourselves for not bringing our bathing suits!  The water was pretty chilly but that didn’t stop tons of people from swimming.

J decided to go in in his shorts.

A lot of people tried to see how close they could get to the waterfall.  The force of the water falling into the pool was such that one could not make it very far before they got pushed back.  J did pretty well.  He got to the turbulent section on the outer edge of the spray.

We sat for a long while on the rocks people watching and letting J drip dry.  Neither of us was real gung-ho about the hike back up to the top.  Eventually we decided to try it.  Let me just say thank goodness I do Zumba because I didn’t find it as challenging as I thought it would be.  Yeah for cardiovascular fitness and let muscles!  LOL!


Costa Rica Highlights: Hot Springs

I’m happy to report that we’re feeling much better today.  Wildman actually went to school today for a few hours…  The school nurse called me to report that Wildman had a stomach ache after lunch.  Wildman sounded so pathetic on the phone that I immediately went to pick him up.  Of course, he was perfectly fine after about 10 minutes on the couch.  I’m sending him back to school tomorrow and will tell the nurse to let him wait it out if I get a call tomorrow.

But that is not what this post is about!  Let’s talk about the hot springs!

We stayed four nights at the Tabacon Grand Spa and Thermal Resort.  It is a magical place.  The property is divided into the hotel and the hot springs and spa half a block away.  We could either walk to the hot springs or take the hotel’s shuttle.  The foot path was so well lit and well-landscaped (with plenty of leaf cutter ants) that we were happy to walk over each night.

We mainly visited the hot springs at night because it was too darn hot during the day to immerse ourselves in such warm water (but we did stop by one day to take pictures).  The water temperature is 122 degrees!  That doesn’t feel so great when it’s 87 degrees outside.  But at night, the hot water feels heavenly!  You can read more about the water supply to the resort here.

I loved how natural the hot springs were.  It was as if we just stumbled across these little hot pools and waterfalls in the middle of the rain forest.  Of course, it’s a great illusion since many of the pools have underwater lighting  and concrete steps leading down into the springs.  But I have to give high praise to the designer because this place looks so unforced.

Even the bottom of the pools and rivers are sand and pebbles.

Here’s a photo of me in a waterfall to prove that I was actually there 🙂  Don’t laugh.

J loved this big waterfall.  The pressure of the falling water gave a really great massage but I didn’t care for it too much because I don’t like getting water in my eyes/contacts.  I was happy to either sit behind the waterfall or take pictures of J in it.

The plant life was amazing too.  There were so many different and unique things to see.  A lot of them I’d never seen before but would love to have in our backyard landscape.   I’m not sure that they would survive here but they would look lovely!

On our last night at the hot springs I got out of the water and stretched out on a deck chair near the waterfall to drip dry.  The evening air was just the right temperature where one could lay there without a towel and feel completely comfortable.  I remember lying there looking up at the clear night sky thinking that I wanted to remember that moment forever.  I could make out several stars winking through the huge plumes of mist coming off of the hot springs.   A gentle breeze would sway the large palm trees overhead every now and then.  The only sound I could hear was the roaring waterfall.   I felt so peaceful and so relaxed.

It was one of those moments that I will try to recall in stressful situations to calm myself down.  My happy place, if you will.