Stepping off the bus in La Fortuna we were hot, sticky and still half asleep after snoozing for a large part of the journey.
Backpacks strapped to our backs once again, we walked up the main street in search of accommodation and a cold beverage. Knowing that it is currently low season here we had decided not to book in advance, a decision that worked out rather well.
We are becoming pretty accustomed to interest from local business (taxis, hotels, tour guides) who seem to pounce on you when you first arrive in a town and try their best to offer you the best price for services that, as a backpacker on a budget, you almost definitely don’t need.
In La Fortuna we were greeted by a young chap who worked for Red Lava Tours, we politely explained that at this point we were just in need of a hotel and true to form he happened to know a great place for an even better price.
Walking up the main street with him it was evident that he was not going to give up on the chance to earn some commission and despite our attempts to lose him by popping into other hotels to check prices, he continued to linger outside. After checking out his offering we decided to have a mooch around ourselves and after quite a lot of mooching we came across some cabins just out of town with great views of the rain forest.
One thing that I would recommend to anyone travelling during low season is to try and arrive at your destination mid-afternoon, throughout our travels in both Europe and the USA we have had great success in bartering for rooms on the day of our arrival.
Hotel owners are keen to fill their rooms and by late afternoon deals can be made that a few hours earlier would have involved at least $10/$20 more. In this case we managed a great deal, a 6 man cabin with kitchen, dining room a balcony overlooking the rain forest complete with hammock for less than the price of a three course meal in the UK.
LA FORTUNA LIFE
From our stay in La Fortuna I would recommend to you two things, the Tree Canopy Zip Lining Tour with Arenal Mundo Adventura and The Lava Lounge restaurant.
Being rather afraid of heights I was less than keen to sample the hanging bridges and zip lining, for which La Fortuna is best Known, and when wake-boarding and horse riding drifted into our conversation I did my best to convince Ben that this was the way forward.
“Zip lining will just be the Costa Rican version of Go Ape.” How wrong I was. I have to say as we handed over our payment to the tour company I felt my stomach start to churn.
Having avoided the CNN Tower in Toronto and the John Hancock Observatory in Chicago I felt I was on a bit of a roll and was convinced Ben wouldn’t put me through the horrendous experience I imagined zip lining to be. But no, my good fortune had turned.
ZIP LINING IN LA FORTUNA
Once at the Eco Park, harness and helmet in hand, we boarded the bus which was pulled by a tractor 3km or so up the side of the volcano base, from here we had a hike to the first zip line.
Graciously Ben volunteered to go first and speed off down the practise line leaving me and David our Costa Rican guide behind. I have to say it took all my nerve to allow David to hook me up to the line but once I was flying down the line myself it was pretty hard to remember to be scared.
The views were some of the most incredible I have ever seen.
With eleven lines in total ranging from 250m to 1km in length and some just over 100m high you really do get a bird’s eye view of the landscape. Built in an ecological reserve the lines fly you over a huge forested valley containing two amazing waterfalls.
Eleven zip lines under my belt and the feeling returned to my legs we headed into La Fortuna for some supper, having been recommended Lava Lounge by a local we had been chatting to we decided to give it a go.
Arriving at about 7:30pm the place was packed with both locals and tourists, hopefully a good sign! We sat at a table in the bar area and ordered a drink. The décor was pretty cool, waves of red and white lights swirled along the raffia walls mimicking the flow of lava from the nearby volcano.
Constructed mostly from wood it had a real Californian beach shack feel to it and the chilled out vibe it created seem to be a hit with all inside.
Just to top off the experience the food was some of the tastiest we had eaten in La Fortuna. I think I could have eaten their Costa Rican Fajitas until I burst they were so yummy! Thankfully I didn’t and I am still in one piece, but the temptation still remains!
Fortunately we caught two jeeps and a boat over to Monteverde yesterday so unless they have a presence over here I will remain in one piece!
Have we inspired you to plan your own Costa Rican adventure? Share your comments with us in the comments below.