The sun rose around 5:45 a.m. and so did I. Enjoying the spectacular view from our terrace at Arenal Observatory Lodge, we snapped some pictures before getting ready for breakfast at 7.
From the breakfast room we saw a whole group of professional bird watchers outside taking pictures with their huge lenses.
Arenal Volcanic Park
The view was spectacular with the towering volcano on the horizon, Lake Arenal adding some blue hues to the picture of the tropical plants and birds in the garden. Hummingbirds ate nectar while we at maple syrup with our pancakes. The standard breakfast buffet was small but provided us with a hardy meal.
After breakfast, we decided on a hike to the Cerro Chato volcano. We got the trail map and information from the hotel reception.
After twenty minutes of straight walking, we went uphill. The hike to the top was pretty tiring but we were rewarded with a view of the lake in the dormant volcano crater.
The way down to the lake was more of a downward climb and at some parts it was completely vertical. Once we made it to the base of the lake, we shed our sweat soaked shirts and jumped in for a swim. The water was cold but very refreshing. We swam out to the center and just marveled at the fact that we were swimming in a volcano crater…
Going back was ten times easier since it was mostly downhill. We finished the whole thing in 4 hours including the swim in the lake.
We had a quick swim in the hotel pool before checking out and heading to the next destination.
We drove directly to Monte Verde on an awful rocky dirt road that tested the limits of our tiny car. We made it and the drive with a stop for lunch took close to 5 hours!
We found a gas station in Santa Elena and refilled our empty tank before going to the park.
At the park, we spoke with a Park Ranger and signed up for the Spanish speaking night tour (~US$17.00 pp) as it only had two other people on it. The English speaking tour had over 10.
The tour was quite interesting though a bit repetitive. We walked some trails during the night each armed with a flashlight though we didn’t need to use it much since the tour guide kept pointing out interesting sightings.
We saw a number of animals and insects like glowing beetles, sleeping birds, a tarantula, glass frogs, lizards, insects and bats. When he spotted an animal he would shine the light on it and we could have a chance to take pictures.
After we sat at a hummingbird viewing area. He would shine the lights on the feeders revealing bats eating from the feeders!
Then we thanked our guide and started a harrowing journey to Manuel San Antonio. Driving as fast as we could on the awful rocky roads, I was sure we would have a flat or our suspension would break at anytime. Luckily I was wrong and we eventually made it to the highway. Then it was smooth sailing all the way to the town of Quepos.
We found the Best Western in the small town and parked right in front of it. It was already 12:30 a.m. They had a hotel guard who unlocked the door to let us into the hotel and also watched our car. The hotel didn’t have our reservation due to “computer issues”. But eventually checked us in and gave us a room.
After dropping our stuff off, we left the hotel in search of food. The hotel “casino” seemed to be more of a Karaoke bar for drunken patrons. They had a few electronic games and not much else of interest.
The area was pretty shady but we found a grill with a friendly lady who made us each a hamburgese, which we gobbled down with a local soda.
On the walk back to the hotel, we witnessed a Fast-and-the-Furious style street race right in front of us. As ghetto as it was, we were so tired that it didn’t even faze us.
Back in our room on the second floor we slept to the lullaby of loud butchered English with heavy dance beats.