Friday, March 11, 2011

Catarata De La Fortuna Waterfall in Costa Rica


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The picture to the right is the main entrance building for La Fortuna Waterfall. There is a gift shop, information center, and restrooms as well. Admission into the Ecological Reserve is around $10 per person. The money goes to a local non-profit who reinvests it for maintaining the reserve surrounding the La Fortuna Waterfall.

After becoming accustomed to living in Nuevo Arenal, my mom, siblings, and I decided to venture out of town on a trip to La Fortuna. We had high hopes for this trip since we were anticipating getting to see the La Fortuna Waterfall and find peanut butter for my brother Joshua. To reach La Fortuna it required of us taking multiple forms of transportation. First, we rode on the public bus for an hour passing over several narrow bridges, bumps, and even a washed out road. The travel from Nuevo Arenal to La Fortuna cost 2,000 colones ($4) per person, so a round trip for my family was $32. After reaching town, we went to the Arenal Evergreen Information Center who called us a taxi service for driving up to the La Fortuna Waterfall. The taxi charge was $7 and the driver dropped us right at the park’s entrance (A taxi back to town is another $7). I recommend taking a taxi to the falls because the walk is uphill and an 1 1/2 hour walk from town. You will need to preserve your energy for climbing down to the falls!

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Another option for reaching La Fortuna waterfall is to travel horseback! Above is the “horse parking” station.

Learn more here: 


A covered bridge leads to the stairway that goes down to La Fortuna Waterfall. It was the first bridge we crossed after paying admission. From the bridge is a beautiful view of the surrounding rainforest.

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My brother, Joshua stayed on the lookout for wildlife with his binoculars as we made our way down (right photo).

The stairs down to the La Fortuna Waterfall is a strenuous workout, but worth it! They are also steep so we had to stay alert. The climb down took us 20 minutes descending about 400 steep steps . The amount for us was longer since we stopped to enjoy the surrounding rainforest and allow other people to pass us by who were coming back up.  Imagining seeing the waterfall and hearing from those who had continued to motivate us to reach the last steps.

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Wildlife in rainforests hide very well, but we did find a strange stick bug (photo above) and saw a Two-Toed Sloth huddled up in a tree. The sloth looked like a teddy bear!



With the last steps conquered, we reached the falls! There before us was La Fortuna as it dropped an astonishing 230 feet before plunging into the natural springs below. The waterfall’s flow is fed by the Tenois river, then travels through the Arenal mountain range before it cascades over a forested canyon side.

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Further downstream is a relaxing swimming hole that is surrounded by tropical rainforest. The water from the falls rushes and curves over a multitude of rocks to arrive at another natural pool.


The spring water is chilly compared to the water of nearby hot springs. Wading in the spring is relaxing after the rigorous decent of stairs so be sure to bring bathing suits! The water is crystal clear and fish are visible as they pass  by.

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We passed a stand selling coconut water!

After viewing the waterfall, we began our climb back up the stairway. Getting back up took more effort then down since gravity was against us. To get back to the town of La Fortuna, we decided to travel by foot instead of using the taxi service. Our journey took about an hour and thirty minutes across the gravel path.  We were thankful for our hiking boots, snacks, and water bottles! To entertain ourselves, we looked for butterflies, flowers, and birds along the road. Mom even found a giant leaf to shade by brother from the sun.

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Along the roadside were many butterflies! I captured a picture of the Banded Peacock which you can enjoy above. We were also blessed with a beautiful view of Arenal Volcano as we walked back to town!

Elizabeth’s Traveling Tips: When visiting La Fortuna Waterfall remember to wear good hiking shoes, pack water bottles, snacks, camera, and swimming suits. When you exit there are shower and changing rooms.

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