Arenal Volcano Hike & Tabacon Hot Springs
December 26, 2019
We started early today which was not difficult since Costa Rica is in the Central time zone, giving us an extra hour to sleep in our rainforest retreats. It was nice because it was pouring rain as Arenal was moving through the tail end of a tropical system so the dry season with rainforest mist that we were expecting was very wet. It was off to the lodge for a typical Costa Rican breakfast Gallo Pinto (rice mixed with black beans, served with natilla (sour cream), eggs and fried plantain) and the most amazing coffee. Even the non coffee drinkers in our family were enjoying a cup of Jose (Joe in Spanish) and then we climbed to the top of the property where our driver (Jimmy) picked us up and escorted us to La Fortuna to meet our traveling companions for a 2 Volcano hike.
Jimmy spoke very little English which gave the rest of my family an opportunity to practice their Spanish. It was amazing how patient and excited everyone was with our broken spanglish and attempt to communicate. Jimmy shared more info. into the Costa Rican lifestyle as a border patrol agent who moonlights as a driver on his day off. We arrived into La Fortuna and were transferred to another bus where they miraculously squeezed 24 people into a motor coach that looked like it was built for 12. They loaded up passengers from the nearby hostels and we headed up to start our hike from Lake Arenal to the ridge of Arenal Volcano.
Our 2 mile hike was not difficult and besides being soaked through our ponchos and trekking through the mud, we made it to the ridge where we could see the reminisce of the 1968 eruption. With the rain came clouds which were sitting at the peak hiding our views of the volcano so we did not get to see the volcano once we reached the top. But, we were rewarded after the hike with a homemade lunch of beans and rice with plantains and sugarcane water (another Costa Rican staple) and then rope swinging into Lake Arenal to rinse off the mud.
After lunch we headed on to Cerro Chato on the backside of the volcano for a short hike through the jungle and across hanging bridges to a waterfall and sunset trekking to the frog sanctuary before re-boarding our bus and heading to the Tabacon Hot Springs for some r & r before the end of our day. Tabacon is a large network of mineral springs along the Tabacon river rainforest reserve in Arenal Volcano National park. Many spend a lot to stay at local La Fortuna resorts to enjoy the springs and many of these resorts built pools with water pumped from the Tabacon river. This was the real deal no custom built pools and our guide provided us with Guaro punch and mud facials from volcanic soil he collected earlier that day on our hike. Perfect ending to a long day!
We were transported back to our starting point where Sheriff Jimmy was waiting to escort us back to the lodge. Hungry and exhausted from the long day, we invited Jimmy to join us for dinner in La Fortuna town before the 45 minute drive back.
We really enjoyed the day. The tour company Jungle Tours was great for a group excursion as were the guides and drivers. We will need to go back again to see the volcano because of the clouds, and should we do this again I would opt for a private hike. We saw as we were descending ATV’s climbing to the ridge which looked like a really fun way to see the volcano in less time there are also horse riding options if you are nervous about ATV’s.