After my new years day stop over I eventually made it to Santa Elena home to the magnificent cloud forest’s of Costa Rica, that look just like a scene out of jurassic park. The entry fee into the park is $20 and this doesn’t guarantee you a sighting of the endangered sloth or rare birds. Having never visited a cloud forest previously I wasn’t going to let the fee deter me, although I didn’t see a sloth I saw a quetzal and enjoyed the walk particularly crossing the iconic iron bridge.
Santa Elena town is up in the mountains and the views are incredible, just walking through town is picturesque has an ideal spot for watching the sunset. Apart from the cloud forests, whilst in town you can visit a cacao, coffee and sugar plantation, fuel your adrenaline on a zip line / canopy tour or just enjoy plentiful of coffee. Speaking of coffee my favourite cafe that I recommend is El Trapiche Coffee Shop, stop by here for a chocolatey coffee and a chat with the staff who are full of knowledge on their product and will leave you feeling as though you’ve been on a private coffee tour.
As for accommodation there is plenty, but book in advance (Not on the day!) I found availability in Hostel La Suerte and cannot say I would recommend this place, although the host’s are a kind family team and the breakfast is good the dorms infrastructure is terrible. Windows that don’t fully shut and leave you shivering in the night and a tin roof that sounds horrendous in the high winds.
From Santa Elena it is convenient to make your way to neighbouring La Fortuna and if you fancy luxury and super convenience, take the jeep-boat-jeep option (available to book in many hostels…) and sit back and relax from the moment you are picked up from your hostel, to the boat journey giving you a brilliant view of Volcan Arenal to the moment you are dropped at the door of your next accommodation. For $25 it’s not budget friendly but it is a pleasant option!
First arriving in La Fortuna it appeared somewhat of a holiday strip typical of Blackpool or Wales and not quite the town I was hoping for which is home to steamy volcano hot springs and the Arenal Volcano. For the budget traveller the hot springs are only a bus ride away and FREE! I recommend visiting early, before the rush of mid-day tourists (when I arrived I had the place to myself) and explore up and down stream because there is plenty of pools to relax in. A short walk from the hot springs is the entrance into the Volcan Arenal but the volcano is only viewable on clear days so if it’s a cloudy day I wouldn’t suggest making your way there.
After a day outdoor’s in mother natures beauty spots, stop by Soda Mima in the evening for typical Costa Rican dishes, (and at friendly prices.) Being a tourist strip you can also expect the accommodation to be equally as touristic because if a neon orange wristband doesn’t scream holiday maker already, then you will sure feel like a holiday maker in Hostel Arenal Backpackers. Although the facilities are clean (but basic) this place doesn’t have that homely feel like many other hostels I have stayed in.
Even though not an appealing town the volcanic hot springs are worth visiting and after a few night’s stay I was ready to travel towards the coast. My next stop on my adventure is Manuel Antonio!
Tchau for now,