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Action Packed La Fortuna, Costa Rica

When asked what word first comes to mind when people think of Costa Rica, often it is “Adventure.” And they’ve pretty much nailed it! Let’s take a closer look at the adventure capital of Costa Rica; La Fortuna.

The district of La Fortuna is the hotbed for most everything that can be called “adventure. We’ll only touch on a few of the activities here, but it will be enough to whet your appetite for an adrenaline rush!

We start with the Catarata Fortuna (La Fortuna Waterfall). Around 7 km from the town of La Fortuna, we recommend walking there and back if you have the time and energy. It’s not difficult but it’s a good solid walk, up all the way. Once out of town, you take the main road past fields of cows, lush green grass and with a stunning backdrop of volcanic proportions.

On arrival at the falls you need to pay an entrance of around $10US, then make your way down the 400+ stairs that take you to the cataract. The waterfall drops about 70−75 meters into a beautiful blue pool at the base of the dormant Chato Volcano. Take your swimming costume with you because a swim in the cool pool is a welcome respite after the hot hike. If you aren’t into a hike, though, other options include horseback riding or mountain biking, though those forms of transport won’t exempt you from the stairs at the end.

Next we up the adventure element a notch with the most extreme activity in Costa Rica. “Gravity Falls” is provided by only one company: Desafio Adventure Company (which, by the way, means ‘challenge’ in Spanish.) Aptly named, “Gravity Falls” is recommended only for the very adventurous among us, and requires a decent level of fitness and the ability to swim.

The unforgettable start is a rappel (also known as “abseil”) down an impressive 140 ft (43 m.) tropical waterfall, with a final drop into a deep crystalline pool before swimming your way to shore to continue through the canyon. After that baptism by fire, it’s a continuous series of 10-30ft waterfalls and cliffs into deep canyon pools (including the “washing machine,”) all with the assistance with expert local guides. Are you game?

Without turning down the adventure notch, let’s move on to some awesome white water rafting! There are quite a few options for rafting in Costa Rica. Rivers Sarapiqui, Pacuare, Toro and Reventazon are amongst the most popular. Today we choose the grade 3-4 rapids on the Sarapiqui River. Always with safety in mind, your local guides will give you a comprehensive briefing and gear on the banks before taking the plunge into the water. Then they’ll guide you through over 40 exciting rapids that weave through lush rainforest; rapids aptly named “The Terminator” and “Two Crazies” mean you are in for an unforgettable adventure! The epic day finishes up with a classic Costa Rican lunch.

Or embark on a journey out to the middle of Lake Arenal on a paddle board; you’ll be blown away by all of the natural beauty of Volcano Arenal. At first, the Arenal Volcano seems like it is hidden, but as you move forward in the lake, by boat, you can see the detailed textures of its rock formation and it’s massive expanse will make you feel insignificant in size. When you reach the middle of the lake, your guide will give you plenty of safety instructions and help you drop your board into the water. The peaceful waters of Arenal make this a perfect sport for people of all ages and all skill levels and a perfect place for lessons if you have never paddle boarded before.

But if you aren’t into these adrenaline-pumping activities, don’t think that that there will be nothing for you to do. There are so many options in the area. Check out some of these activities that are also on La Fortuna’s adventure menu:
– Kayaking on Lake Arenal – Lower grade white water rafting
– ATV tours – Mountain biking on various courses (easy, medium, difficult)
– Hiking in Arenal National Park
– Cooking classes
– Local swimming holes
– Hot springs
– Caño Negro wildlife spotting
– Safari float wildlife spotting
We will expand on some of these other activities in future articles.

The La Fortuna / Arenal area is one of the highlights on our Pura Vida – Costa Rica Essentials trip. Check here for 2018 departures.

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