After hiking Glacier National Park last summer, we felt pretty confident the 500Jerk kids could handle a challenging hike. So one of the things we did in La Fortuna was hike Cerro Chato, the dormant volcano next to Arenal. You can see the base of Cerro Chato in the foreground of the picture below.
Like Cerro Chato, Arenal was also once considered "dormant." Then it--SURPRISE!--blew up in the 60s and swallowed an entire Costa Rican village. So hiking Cerro Chato made me slightly nervous. Not to mention Costa Rica's snake and poison dart frog situation.
The hike took 4.5 hours and was essentially straight up and down. There was practically no one else on the trail, and given the challenging ascent and descent, I now know why. The 500Jerk kids were troopers.
But it seriously wore them out. Look at that exhausted Boy Wonder.
I'm not saying I did any better. By the end of the hike, my kneees ached miserably, and I had been reduced to tonelessly chanting, "Cerro Chato, Cerro CHATO, CERRO CHATO."
That night, we soaked in the volcanic springs at Tabacon. I have no pictures of Tabacon because it gets dark in Costa Rica at about 6PM. Also, after Cerro Chato, I had lost the will to live, much less take pictures. So we shuffled around Tabacon, creakily trying out the different pools of volcanically heated water and sitting under the pounding waterfalls . Some pools were too hot. Some were too cold. Finally, we found one that was just right, and I practically fell asleep.
The next morning we walked the hanging bridges near La Fortuna.
The bridges cross steep gorges and allow you to see the treetop canopy of the jungle. You can actually see through the bottom of the swaying bridges, which is GREAT if you like heights. We saw some strange birds, tarantula holes, toucans, and coati, a diurnal racoon-like creature.