Arenal and Cerro Chato

Our weekend in Arenal started off very well, as we arrived and were given complimentary drinks at the “Arenal Hostel Resort.”  It was one of the more expensive hostels we’ve stayed in.  We only had to share a bathroom with a few other people, and they had a pool with a pool bar.  They were having a BBQ Friday night, so we spent most of Friday enjoying the pool and resting up for our adventure the next day.

If I thought climbing the volcano in Nicaragua was difficult, this weekend took our physical activity to another level.  When we arrived in La Fortuna, we decided to embark on a ten-hour long hike that Saturday.

The group before our long hike began!
The group before our long hike began!

Arenal is still an active volcano, so you can’t hike there, but you can hike Cerro Chato, a volcano right near it. It sits at an elevation of 3,740 ft.  We had a guide, so throughout the hike, he would point out various plants along the way.

Our guide showing us flowers from the ginger family
Our guide showing us flowers from the ginger family

There were three stopping points until we got to the lagoon.  The lagoon is in a crater inside the volcano.  It was a little disappointing when we arrived there, because it was a very cloudy day, so we didn’t get to experience what would have been quite an impressive view.  I enjoyed it nonetheless.  Inside the lagoon, there are small fish that are good for your feet because they eat the dead skin cells! This felt odd at first and I couldn’t stop myself from laughing, but it was definitely something new to try.

After the lagoon, the terrain we were hiking got a bit rugged.  We all ended up soaking wet and covered in mud.  I had to walk carefully, because we weren’t walking on a very sophisticated path; we were climbing over rocks and roots and fallen trees.  It really felt like we were in the depths of a jungle, but that’s what made it so cool.


One of our last stops was at a waterfall.  It was more beautiful than the picture I have shows, but there was so much mist it was hard to take a good photo!


The last part of the day was a trip to the Tabacon Hot Springs, but before we got there, our driver pulled over to show us a red-eyed tree frog. Costa Rica is known for being home to these frogs, but I hadn’t gotten the chance to see one until then.

Red-Eyed Tree Frog
Red-Eyed Tree Frog

Finally, we got to my favorite part of the day – the hot springs! And we had definitely earned them.  The water was at the perfect temperature.  Our guide had collected mud from Cerro Chato as we were walking, and he used this to make mud masks for all of us.  He explained how these masks were good for the skin because they are rich in so many minerals, like sulfur.

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After spending some time in the hot springs, I was sufficiently relaxed.  We ended the day by getting some pizza at a place called “Just Good Food.”  The following day, we had to catch our bus at 2:45, so in the morning we just went on another walk to find a nearby waterfall, then it was back to San Jose! Crazy that I have less than 3 weeks left here now!

Colin, Emily, & Tyler

"Find life experiences and swallow them whole. Travel. Meet many people. Go down some dead ends and explore dark alleys. Try everything. Exhaust yourself in the glorious pursuit of life." Lawrence K. Fish

One comment

  • Thank you once again for such an interesting and complete account of your adventures! Am sure hot springs felt great after all your hiking–know I enjoyed them when I was in Colorado with Wanda!

    Love and prayers,

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