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ARENAL AND LA FORTUNA

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LOOKING FOR A TRAVEL ADVENTURE IN ARENAL?

Explore hotels, cabins, rent a cars, restaurants, bars and cafés by locality.

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The route from San José in a northeastern direction, passes by Ciudad Quesada (San Carlos), La Fortuna, Arenal and Tilarán; arriving at Cañas which incorporates the Interamerican. There are two options: go to the north until you reach Liberia and Nicaragua, or turn to the south towards San José. Fortuna is a good place to visit the active Arenal volcano, and has good bus services. The road is asphalt. It is possible take a detour to Monteverde – the roads are in good condition – and also to the northern plains of the country.

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ARENAL AND LA FORTUNA AREA MAP

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WHERE TO GO & WHAT TO DO

Choose between these 9 exiting destinations in the Arenal & La Fortuna area

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1. CIUDAD QUESADA - SAN CARLOS

 

The official name of this village is Ciudad Quesada and is known as San Carlos, buses are usually marked with this name. It was created on the 26th of September 1911, it was converted into the tenth county of the province of Alajuela, and since then it has become a fine and prestigious village. With an extension of 3.347,98 Km2. Its climate is classified as tropical and rainy, mainly in the lower northern region, with an average yearly temperature of 25ºC. The highest areas to the south have a climate that is tropical and humid of 20ºC. The Pre-Columbian period that presently corresponds to San Carlos, it was inhabited by the indigenous. The name, according to popular stories, was because of Nicaraguans that came from San Carlos in Nicaragua, at the beginning of the XIX century and came into the area via the Río San Juan that the indigenous named Cutris, but the Nicaraguans named San Carlos, a name that previously referred to the region as a whole.

 

2. LA FORTUNA OF ARENAL

 

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Its official name is La Fortuna de San Carlos, it is the closest to the Arenal volcano, at 1.633 m; it is only separated by 6Km of foothills. It is located at 250 meters altitude and has an excellent view of the volcano; its attractions are a waterfall, hot springs, a lake, canopy circuits, caves, horse rides and excursions to the nearby Caño Negro refuge. In La Fortuna there are banks, gas stations, hotels, discos, internet, supermarkets, rent a car and tourist information offices.

History

Marcial Jarquín was the first inhabitant of La Fortuna who arrived in 1930, from Nicaragua, he lived in what today is known as Hacienda el Río Fortuna. In 1932  other inhabitants arrived among them Rufino and Isolina Quesada, Juan Ledesma, Porfirio Rojas, Elías Koper, Alberto Quesada, Juana Vargas Ricardo Quirós, José; Garro, Julio Murillo. 

​This community was a quiet tranquil village of the Los Ángeles de San Ramón district until 1950 when with La Tigra, they decided to become part of the county of San Carlos. It is known with the name of Burio, and then the name was changed to La Fortuna.

 

In 1952 along with la Tigra, it was declared the seventh district of San Carlos  a La Fortuna. In 1968 Volcano Arenal which until then was a harmless mountain, erupted and buried the community of Pueblo Nuevo and it killed almost a hundred of its inhabitants.

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3. WATERFALLS FORTUNA RIVER

 

 

Located 800 meters to the south of La Fortuna taking a turnoff from here until the car park of the waterfall 4 km to the east. From 08:00 a.m to 05:00 p.m everyday, foreigners 12 US$/ national 8 US$. For the first 200 meters you will walk on a bridge, passing by the toilets, souvenir stores, a shop selling refreshments and a viewpoint to the left hand side where you can see the waterfall, and then 400 meters towards the waterfall, using approximately 480 steps in good condition, it takes about 15 minutes to go down and 25 minutes to go up. With resting areas (going up is not recommended for people with head problems), visitors carry out the walk under their own risk, with guides only with agencies. The waterfall has a fall of 70 meters and a capacity of 40 gallons of water per second, along with the panorama of the water is the amount of species of animals and plants that there is in this beautiful place. There is a pool that is suitable for swimming which is about 25 meters away from the waterfall with clear water crystal and fresh water 20 ºC and 26 ºC, and it is prohibited to swim close to the waterfall, it is very dangerous.  It is a natural beauty, hidden in the virgin mountains; in this river you can also enjoy other waterfalls that look splendid in the middle of the forest. 

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4. CHATO VOLCANO

 

Located to the southeast of Arenal at 1.100 meters. It is a volcanic truncated cone. At the summit it has an exploded crater of 500 meters in diameter, where there is an oval shaped lagoon, 250 meters long and 150 meters wide. The extension of this volcano is 10 Km2. Chato Volcano, sometimes called “Cerro Chato”, is an inactive volcano in north-western Costa Rica north-west of San José, in the province of Alajuela, canton of San Carlos, and district of La Fortuna. It is southeast of the nearby Arenal Volcano. It is believed Cerro Chato first erupted 38,000 years ago during the Pleistocene period and last erupted about 3,500 years ago. One of the lava flows is now the route for La Fortuna Waterfall. The hill has two peaks, named Chatito (little Chato) and Espina (Thorn). A crater about 500 metres (1,600 ft) wide is filled with green water, making the Laguna Cerro Chato. It is possible to hike the Cerro Chato up to and inside the crater, but it is considered a difficult hike and only recommended for hikers of good physical condition. There are two possible routes, one beginning from near the La Fortuna Waterfall and one from The Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa on the west slope. It is possible to ascend on one side and descend on the other, but this makes for a longer hike. When it rains, the path becomes muddy and can make it even more treacherous, especially when descending into the crater itself. Due to certain minerals in the water, swimming is not recommended, but many locals swim in it regardless. The water is fairly cool.The hike to the crater is decently long (taking approximately 4 hours with a guide) and very steep. It begins in lower farmlands with few trees, but quickly ascends to a much steeper climb through the thick rain forest. The ascent from the Observatory Lodge has a good view over the town of La Fortuna.

5. ARENAL VOLCANO ROUTE AREA

 

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Crater A, located at 100 meters provoked an explosion of lava (boiling clouds), that devastated 12 Km2, removing the populations of Pueblo Nuevo and Tabacon and also caused the death of approximately 87 people. In the month of September, of the same year lava began to flow from Crater C, at a height of 1450 meters. This crater is still active, characterized by consistent lava explosions and constant gas emissions.

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6. ARENAL VOLCANO NATIONAL PARK

 

The energetic heart of Costa Rica

Located to the northeast of the Tilarán Cordillera, which includes the northern area of Costa Rica, it owes its name to the colossal majestic peak of 1633 meters above sea level with a cone like formation that is almost perfect which stands out from the rest of the country. Its constant activity, a welcoming spectacle, which is internationally known as a first class attraction. Since the pre-Hispanic period, the Arenal area has been favored by settlers, because of its optimal ecological conditions. Diverse archeological studies carried out in the area, report evidence of the existence of indigenous occupations since 4.000 A.D. until the Spanish arrived. On the 29th of July 1968, after 400 years, the Arenal Volcano began a period of activity opening up three craters on the western flank.  Crater A, located at 100 meters provoked an explosion of lava (boiling clouds), that devastated 12 Km2, removing the populations of Pueblo Nuevo and Tabacon and also caused the death of approximately 87 people. In the month of September, of the same year lava began to flow from Crater C, at a height of 1450 meters. This crater is still active, characterized by consistent lava explosions and constant gas emissions. When it rains, the path becomes muddy and can make it even more treacherous, especially when descending into the crater itself. Due to certain minerals in the water, swimming is not recommended, but many locals swim in it regardless. The water is fairly cool.The hike to the crater is decently long (taking approximately 4 hours with a guide) and very steep. It begins in lower farmlands with few trees, but quickly ascends to a much steeper climb through the thick rain forest. The ascent from the Observatory Lodge has a good view over the town of La Fortuna. to certain minerals in the water, swimming is not recommended, but many locals swim in it regardless. The water is fairly cool.The hike to the crater is decently long (taking approximately 4 hours with a guide) and very steep. It begins in lower farmlands with few trees, but quickly ascends to a much steeper climb through the thick rain forest. The ascent from the Observatory Lodge has a good view over the town of La Fortuna.This community was a quiet tranquil village of the Los Ángeles de San Ramón district until 1950 when with La Tigra, they decided to become part of the county of San Carlos. It is known with the name of Burio, and then the name was changed to La Fortuna. In 1952 along with la Tigra, it was declared the seventh district of San Carlos  a La Fortuna. In 1968 Volcano Arenal which until then was a harmless mountain, erupted and buried the community of Pueblo Nuevo and it killed almost a hundred of its inhabitants. The land of the area lost a lot of their value and many of it inhabitants left. Nevertheless, little by little, the spectacular eruptions of the volcano began to attract tourists. Their arrival was improved with an asphalt road in 1982.

7. LA PRESA SANGREGADO - ARENAL LAKE

 

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It forms part of the hydroelectric project that ICE began in 1970 and concluded in 1978. The lake has an extension of 85 Km2 and underneath its waters are the summered villages of Arenal and Pueblo Nuevo; during the winter its deepest parts reach thirty meters and in the summer on six meters. The hydroelectric dam is located 14 kilometers to the west of La Fortuna, its main activities are fishing, the beautiful scenery, because of the abundance in flora and fauna of the landscape that surrounds Arenal Volcano. Boat services are available for tourists who want to go fishing or just take trips around the lake. You can go fishing, waterskiing, windsurfing and motorboat competitions. It is an excellent place to enjoy lunch in the open air or you can go camping. Fishermen think it is a first category area: sweetwater rainbow Robalos of 4 Kg have been found here, at present 10 species of fish have been registered here.

La Presa Sangregado – A stop not to be missed.

It is so called because of the place that it was built, 1.012 meters long, its structure has creates the Arenal basin and serves as a bridge in route to La Fortuna-Tilarán. Its construction occupies 4.6 million cubic meters of material and reaches an average height of 66 meters. It is one of the few straight routes on the highway that goes around the lake and is an excellent observation point to see the lake as well as the volcano.

8. NUEVO ARENAL

 

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It is called Nuevo Arenal, as it replaces the first Arenal as well as other villages. Flooded by the lake and that forced 3.500 people to relocate. Located 27 meters below water level; Nueva Arenal is 29 km to the east of the dam and is the only village that exists between Fortuna and Tilarán.

 

Gas station 

Gas station Arenal. Located 100 meters west of the Offices of the I.C.E in Tilarán center. Services of fuel the 24 hours, change of oil, repair of tires and sales of reserves. They accept credit cards, dollars and colons.

 

 

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9. TILARAN

It is a quiet village 550 meters in altitude, situated close to the extreme north of the Tilarán Cordillera. Its climate and characteristics if the region separate it from the rest of the province,  it is an area with a lot of rain and a cold climate, the vegetation is always green, the county is a high producer of the dairy cows and also coffee. During the last weekend of April the village celebrated the Los Dias Civicos Festival, with a rodeo that is very popular with the villagers and on the 13th of June there is also another festival. This is also the center of one of the Ecclesiastical Diocese of Costa Rica. Arenal Lake is 5 Km away, this county also offers fishing, windsurfing, or simply admiring the view of Arenal Volcano that runs along and majestically stands out with impressive explosions and lava flows. 

The area is certified by the I.C.T, it has parking, public telephone, and two souvenir stores. It belongs to the Asociación de Desarrollo Integral de La Fortuna (ADIFORT) (The Association of Integral Development), all of the funds that are collected are for the community (non-profit). Spanish and English spoken.

What to bring?

Hiking boots (burros), Light clothes, insect repellent, water, binoculars, water, video cameras and swimsuits.

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