Day 2 – Catarata Del Toro
The next day we woke up with sunshine shining through the airy open windows and the sound of birds chirping. It was so relaxing and it felt like waking up in the middle of the jungle. I started packing my camera bag and getting ready to head out for the day. But first, we were treated to a lovely handmade breakfast by the owners of Catarata Del Toro. I wont spoil what we were served in case you’re looking to stay at this fine establishment, but it was really good and the perfect meal to start our day.
Did I mention the property grounds included a Hummingbird garden? Literally 10-15 hummingbirds could be spotted at any time just a feet away from the gathering area. We tried to get one to land on our finger but sadly it didn’t happen. The bird feeders attracted the birds and we were just amazed at the beauty and sounds that they made. I will be the first to say I am nowhere near a bird person, but I could appreciate the delicacy of the Hummingbird.
As we finished breakfast and headed down the hiking trail I got a sense that I was lost in the jungle, far away from everything else. The air was so fresh and smelled splendid. Amanda loved the bright colored flowers and was on the lookout for monkeys and sloths. I was enjoying the photographic moments and trying to take in everything all at once. We got out first glimpse of the thunderous catarata and couldn’t wait to get down to the bottom.
We hiked through the jungle for 8-10 minutes or so and came to an open gate and cement stairs. I didn’t count all the stairs but it’s said that there is around 400 or so. Photo after photo, video after video, I was clicking away at the scenery while trying to keep my balance. There are plenty of places to stop and rest on the stairs to the walking path if you need to, so don’t worry.
One of the really nice things we had the pleasure of experiencing at Catarata Adventures is that the park was actually closed to the public on Sundays. Today just happened to be a Sunday! Here is the catch, unless you stay overnight on Saturday, whcih we did, we lucked out and got the place seemingly to ourselves. There was one other couple there, but that was it! So the four of us thoroughly enjoyed the place, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Once we made it near the bottom of the fall, we found a nice bench to sit at to admire the best kept secret in Costa Rica. You cannot swim or jump in the water at the base, it is way too dangerous. There is a fence blocking you from jumping in and that’s probably for your benefit. I cannot imagine the force of that fall and the undercurrent it creates if you were to be in the base. At over 270ft tall, that is not a fight you’re going to win.
We spent some time admiring the beautiful surrounding and reflecting on how we made it this far in just 24 short hours. The presence of this place was special, almost magical. As we drank some water, caught our breathe and took a few last pictures, we started the decent up the path that we had come down. There is only one way in and one way out. My calves were really feeling it half way back up the cliff side. I thought I was in decent shape but boy was I was wrong. It was totally worth it though.
Back through the open gates and around the corner, we did have an option to get back to the estate if we wanted. However we wondered through the garden and did some birdwatching as we overlooked the nearby volcano Paos. Clouds covered the volcano peak and made it seem very eerie, but not in a scary way. In a very-cool, nature is amazing kind of way!
As our time at Catarata Del Toro came to an end, we said goodbye to our new Dutch-Costa Rican friends, closed the gate behind us, and headed north. We were off to the popular town of La Fortuna. La Fortuna is roughly an hour and a half from Catarata Del Toro. The drive was beautiful. Lots and lots of farmland, with the mountains and volcano peaking through in the background. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, high 70’s, a slight breeze and lots of sunshine. We stopped about half way in the providence of
Alajuela for a quick gelato break. Boy was it tasty!
We started to hit some traffic near La Fortuna but that didn’t faze us, we were enjoying the adventure and sunshine. We found a place to park near the city center and began walking around to do a little sightseeing and check out the town. The town had a great vibe to it with a good mix of tourists and locals alike. There was a weeks full of shops, restaurants and bars to go to. We ended up picking a place on the main street called “Lava Lounge”. I heard it was great for drinks and appetizers. I ordered a Maja Dera pale ale and Amanda ordered a pina colada, we split a nacho plate. The beer was good and the nachos were great, highly recommend stopping here for drinks and to people watch.
It was mid-afternoon now and we decided to hit the hot springs. There are a bunch in the La Fortuna area but we had a particular one in mind because of it’s price and atmosphere. It was called Termalitas Del Arenal and it only cost us 9 colones. We felt like we were robbing the place…Let’s start off from the minute you walk in. It’s not a super grand entrance like some of the other hot spring but your immediately drawn in by all the lush greenery, trees and hot spring fed pools around you. Families and park benches under tiki huts lined the paths to different temperature pools. There was a food stand and a bar as well available to patrons. The best part about this place was that you could bring in your own food and alcohol. Mind blow. That would never fly in America, lucky!
So, what was unique about this hot springs? The unique thing is that you could pick a hot spring (like really hot) or a cooler spring and everything in between. I thought this was really cool and I always like my options. Most people were hanging out at the biggest spring (more like pool) where the water-slides were. By far my highlight at this place was the unguarded slides. Literally anything goes and nobody is there to tell you otherwise. People were going down three at a time, standing up, backwards. It was pretty crazy and fun to watch! Amanda and I had a blast going two-up down the slide together. As the sun set in the background and day turned into night, the hot springs came alive with glowing lights of green, purple, red and blue.
We spent a couple hours at the hot springs and it was well worth the price of admission. But, it was time to check in to our hostel at Selina La Fortuna and get washed up for dinner. Selina was a block off main street in La Fortuna. This was my first time ever staying at a hostel so I was a bit skeptical at first and had my doubts. We weren’t up for staying in a shared dorm style room so we opted for something else.
Yes! A Teepee tent! So original and unique, not to mention this was the perfect way to “camp” in Costa Rica. I never knew something like this tepee tent was even a thing. When we saw this listing on AirBnB, it was a no brainer to book it! By the way, if you want to save $25 on your next hotel, use my referral link. The property was well taken care of and offered a very friendly and nomadic vibe. You can find beautiful artwork, plants, flowers and plenty of things to do right on site: swimming pool, foosball, life-size jenga and board games.
The tepee tent was quaint, clean and tidy. It offered a queen bed, mosquito net, fan/heater, power, nightstand and a luggage rack. Read my full review of Selina La Fortuna here! We walked not a block away to grab dinner at a seafood restaurant. Interesting choice, right? I wasn’t aware that Costa Rica had some really good seafood options. I picked out the Mahi Mahi with Shrimp sauce and it didn’t disappoint. Amanda had the Salmon with passion fruit sauce. Both entrees were tasty and while it took a little bit more expected to get our food, it was worth the wait. Pura Vida!
After Snapper House, we settled down for the night and had some much needed relaxtion time before turning in for the night as the next day had a full schedule ahead for us. We ended up passing out in the tepee despite the loud party like atmosphere and the music heard from a bar down the street. I guess we were tired!