We attempted to extend our
stay at Arenal Paraiso but they were full. Turns out that was the best outcome. I
was not that impressed with the food or the modest amount of hot
water available, so we loaded our micro-4x4 and headed back into La
Fortuna for fuel and some supplies and then headed
west to Arenal Hanging Bridges.
The photos below are what we saw.
Some of the tropical plans
at our hotel were off the chart. I have no idea what this is, but
the red colors were awesome.
This flower was right
outside of our room.
This specimen was right
next to our door.
To the east of our casita
were these interesting palm trees. The leaves
are arranged in
a plane like a fan.
Three days in a row the Arenal
cloud covered preventing a view of the smoking crater on top.
We checked out of the
hotel and headed to La Fortuna for fuel and supplies and then went west to Arenal Hanging Bridges. I
spotted this flower right next to where we parked.
The Hanging Bridges is a
multi-kilometer walking tour through the jungle over
suspension bridges. At the start we came upon this
The first bridge was right
next to the parking area and crossed a deep canyon.
The bridge was a
but it swayed like
crazy when you walked on it. With multiple people
walking at the same time, it was almost impossible to keep your
The bridge provide a great view of the
dense foliage in
On the floor of the jungle, you
could only see a few feet because
of the dense vegetation.
Some of the root systems
of the taller trees were surreal.
The root system of this tree was intricate
and covered with parasites.
I think this tree is a type of ficus
but it had huge fin-shaped roots.
This root system was
convoluted. What is interesting is that the base
of the trunk did
not come to the ground. Or, the ground has been
eroded from the base. Either way, you can see
light under the tree.
There were a number of
really high bridges which were quite scary to cross.
The main cables for the bridge
were a bit bigger
than 1" in diameter.
There was a side trail that took us to the
bottom of the canyon and a small waterfall.
A small reminder that the
jungle is a living place. Some substantial branches
fell and bent the 1.5" steel handrail on this bridge.
To get from the bottom of
the canyon to the bridge that crossed back to the start was a
From the top of the upper
bridge, nearly 120' above
the canyon floor, we spotted this epiphyte living happily on one of the
tall branches. Our guide at the zip line the
previous day told us that the mass of various parasites and epiphytes living
on the big trees can more than double the base
mass of the tree itself and frequently cause
branches to break off.
In the jungle, everything
strives for the sun and the palm
tree to the left of the bridge is over 120' tall.
Note the vertical
growth spear on
From the upper bridge we
could see one of
the lower bridges. Look carefully left of center about
1/3 from the
In the distance we could
see another one of the lower bridges.
This tree had a minimal
amount of the trunk actually connecting with the ground.
The roots seem unstable, but for a tree to be as tall as this one, they must be very, very strong.
This leaf was huge: 6' x 1.5'
This leaf was huge as well
perhaps 5' x 4'.
We got back to the parking area and went
to the restaurant there and had an awesome lunch of
"typical" food: a fish fillet, rice, beans, salad, local white cheese and
Much better than the stuff we got at our hotel the previous day.
the clouds mostly broke over the mountain. The
top was not visible, but almost.
We left Hanging Bridges and
headed west on the north shore of Lake Arenal. The lake is man-made
and the largest in Costa Rica. On the road we
encountered a troop of these creatures. I had seen
them before in the U.S. but it was in a zoo and they were
Here they are called pesotes. They look
like a cross between a cat and a
rat. The tail position supposedly
indicates social status and mood. We
encountered the troop next to the road
working the tourists for handouts.
These critters have long claws
and sharp teeth and are something to be reckoned
with. They are smart, agile and are creative about breaking into things (like you house
or your trash can).
Close to the pesotes we
spotted this turtle attempting to cross the road. If the
pesotes spotted him, he would be their dinner.
We got to the town of Arenal and started
seriously looking for a place to stay for the night.
We stopped by the
side of the road to get a
photo of the
We saw a sign for La Rana
Hotel and decided to
give it a try. Six total rooms plus a dining room and
a bar. This was the view from our door.
The wind blows quite
strong at Lake Arenal. Barely visible on the far skyline are a set of huge
wind turbines that feed the local grid.
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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2014, all rights
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.