Part 3: Arenal Volcano to Lake Arenal


Navigation Links
 Trip Home Page     


The Trip

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

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 volcano was 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 flower-in-a-flower.

The first bridge was right next to the parking area and crossed a deep canyon.

The bridge was a substantial structure, 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 balance while walking.

The bridge provide a great view of the dense foliage in the canopy.

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 un-symmetrical and 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 substantial elevation change.

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 the top.

From the upper bridge we could see one of the lower bridges.  Look carefully left of center about 1/3 from the bottom.

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 fried plantains.  Much better than the stuff we got at our hotel the previous day.  While we were eating 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 ArenalThe 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 called coatimundis.  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 lake.

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.

La Rana (The Frog) Hotel turned out to be a great choice.  At first I thought that we were the only guests, but others arrived later.  It turns out that the owner is a German ex-pat and there are many Germans that come through Costa Rica.  Many stop here so my linguistic skills were highly challenged given that I don't speak German.  I spent about half an hour attempting to communicate with this woman who was from East Berlin and spoke Russian as her second language and learned a bit of Spanish during he multi-month stay in CR.  In the words of the cook, who was a Tica (female Costa Rican), it was "complicado".  But, several of the other guests spoke either English or Spanish so there was never a dull moment.  The wife of the owner was the cook and she did a great job on my weinerschnitzel and Kathleen's goulash.

Tomorrow, we go over to Tularan to see what is there.  Maybe we'll stay there, maybe not.  Depends on what we find.

Navigation Links
Previous Adventure
Top of this Page
  Next Adventure
Trip Home Page  
Bill Caid's Home Page

Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2014, all rights reserved.
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.