We planned to spend our time in Costa Rica in November 2011 exploring its various microclimates, and the city of La Fortuna seemed like an obvious starting point. It promised rain forest with adventure activities, unique wildlife, waterfalls, and a volcano!

We splurged on our hotel here and spent three nights taking advantage of its spa, wildlife preserve, natural hot springs, and spectacular view of Volcán Arenal. We also signed up for two excursions to check out the rain forest closer.

Accommodation: The Springs Resort and Spa

Adventures: Volcán Arenal, horseback riding to La Fortuna Waterfall (La Catarata de la Fortuna), The Springs Jungle Cat Tour, The Springs Spa, mineral hot springs, Arenal Hanging Bridges

Wildlife Sightings: toad, coati, sloths, wild pigs, monkeys, stick insects, cockroach, tarantula, toucans, leaf-cutter ants, ocelot, puma, butterfly, hummingbirds

Takeaways: 1) There is wifi in the rain forest. 2) The hanging bridges will test your fear of heights. 3) The safety rules seem to be a little more loose here than in the States. 4) The volcano is covered by clouds the majority of the time. 5) The amount of wildlife encountered in the rain forest depends on luck. 6) It is colder than expected in the mountains.

Memorable Moments: 1) Spotting a toucan! 2) Watching the hummingbirds on our hotel patio flutter around the feeder for hours. 3) Swimming/nearly drowning at the base of La Fortuna Waterfall. 4) Watching the parade of leaf-cutter ants navigate through the forest. 5) Finding the courage to cross the hanging bridges above the trees. 6) Relaxing in the hot springs. 7) Flashing a light in the darkness and revealing the largest cockroach and stick insect we've ever seen.


  • Gallo pinto (rice and black beans) is the staple food. A typical Costa Rican breakfast consists of gallo pinto, scrambled or fried eggs, cooked plantains, tortillas and/or toast and orange juice and coffee.
  • The casado is a typical meal that usually includes gallo pinto, fried plantain, meat, and salad.
  • We loved the salty plantain chips.
  • Imperial is the national beer. 
  • Tipping Etiquette: Tipping is not necessary in restaurants since a 10% service charge is always added to the bill along with a 13% tax.
1) Pack casual, quick-drying clothes, including a rain jacket/poncho, hiking/water shoes, sandals, multiple swimsuits, sunglasses, and hiking pants. Bring something warm to wear in the mountains. 
2) Consider packing binoculars, a small flashlight, a backpacking towel, insect repellent, and sunscreen.
3) Pack plastic bags to protect electronics and other items.
4) Pay for the local guides in the national parks.


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