Our first introduction to Costa Rica was a 90 mile drive from San Jose to La Fortuna, Costa Rica. Google estimated it would take about 3.5 hours, but there was a bridge out so the locals said it would take closer to 5. Little did they know we’d be hit with a crazy rain storm (go figure, a heavy downpour in the rain forest, right?) while traveling on the ever winding, guardrail-less back roads of rural Costa Rica. Eight hours later, we arrived, ate dinner and crashed for the night.
The next day, we woke up early because we were really excited about hiking Arenal Volcano National Park and we wanted to get there before the afternoon storms hit. National parks in Costa Rica are not as well marked as they are here in the United States but our GPS found a small parking lot on the side of a semi maintained road, we paid our parking fee and we headed out to hike.
We had tried to research the hiking trails at Arenal before arriving but didn’t have much luck, so we weren’t sure what to expect. It turns out there are two trail options in Arenal Volcano National Park, Sendero Bosque and Sendero Colada. Sendera Bosque is roughly 2.9 miles round trip, while Sendera Colada is slightly shorter at 2.5 miles.
We opted to do the longer hike, and what turns out to be the trail less traveled. These two trails follow each other for the majority of the hike, however Sendero Bosque cuts away for that additional 1/2 mile. When we were on Sendera Colada we saw a ton of tourists, however we didn’t see anyone else on Sendera Bosque. It was very peaceful.
The trails itself was very well maintained with easy to moderate hiking. It started off with a beautiful view of the volcano and then headed down through the deepest layers of the rain forest. The trees were so thick that we couldn’t even tell it was raining. The trail gently climbed back up through the different layers of the rain forest, popping us out above the tree canopy into a rainstorm. As expected, our views were blocked by thick layers of fog but it was still worth it. Hiking on top of the rain forest in warm rain and an even warmer breeze was an awesome experience in itself, and Christian and I absolutely loved it.
On our hike, we didn’t see much wild life other than a few pretty butterflies, a wasp the size of my thumb and a couple lizards. To be honest, I think we went just a little bit too late. If I were to do it again, I’d get there around sunrise.
Note: These hikes do not take you up close to the volcano. The volcano is still considered active and the hikes that take you to the rim have been closed for a while now. Also, make sure to wear mosquito repellent. I wore my permethrin pants, jacket and hat and didn’t get any bites at all, but they were still swarming around me.
One more thing! After your hike, make sure to head into La Fortuna to get some awesome Costa Rican Coffee from Red Frog.
To see other places to check out in Costa Rica, click here!