Cerró Chato y Arenal – Jungle Tours

After walking back home and having a typical Costa Rican breakfast I was picked up to go on my tour for the day. I don’t usually do guided tours but this was recommended by Grethel (who I was staying with). She thought it was great not only because I was traveling alone but also because I’d be able to see more of the La Fortuna/Arenal area in such a short period of time.

If you visit Costa Rica alone I will warn that many tours cannot be booked unless it’s 2+ people – everything I found online that was even slightly intriguing I could not book. I was definitely glad when Grethel told me I’d be able to do this one alone. This tour was also only $55 and included much more than I had seen was provided in tours that were $100+.

As I write about this you’ll notice quickly that I highly recommend this tour! There is a half day and all day option, I chose the one that is all day and recommend this to those who enjoy physical activity. They picked me up from where I was staying, provided lunch and dropped me off at the end of the day.

The day started with a climb up to Cerro Chato, a dormant volcano that is now surrounded by a lush rainforest with an immense amount of biodiversity. Halfway through the rainforest hike we reached a viewing point where you can see the Chato Lagoon, which is the crater of this once active volcano, and the Arenal Mountain. We then hiked down to the lagoon and I took a dip inside the rather cold water. The lagoon also had Garra Rufa (those little fish that eat your dead skin) which just meant a free pedicure for me. After a bit of time there we finished hiking down and out of the rain forest, saw a seasonal waterfall and passed some walking bridges. We then made a quick stop at a larger waterfall and smaller (5 people at a time or less) walking bridge that lead us to the Arenal Observatory where there was a view point of the Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal. The tour ended with a quick drive to the natural Tabacon Hot Spring. The hot spring was a great relaxing way to end the tour and we also had the option to try a mud mask (of course I did) and a typical Costa Rican drink.

Unfortunately, as you will soon see in my pictures, it was an extremely foggy day and so we did not see the mountain at all or see the lagoon we dipped into until we got down to where it was. But the fact that I still thought this was an amazing tour says enough, the tour guides were very knowledgeable and happy to answer any and all questions. I learned not only about things relating to the tour but things about Costa Rican customs as well.

Fun fact: To be a tour guide is viewed highly in Costa Rica, it is required to know English and to travel through all parts of Costa Rica before receiving the certification. On average it takes about 2 years to complete with the hardest part for some is to learn to speak English fluently.

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