Hiking the rainforest

Hiking, or at least walking, in the rainforest was a daily activity during our stay at the Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica.
Some guided, some self paced, our walks took us through areas teeming with wildlife.  We went out every morning, so we could avoid the heaviest rain in the afternoon.

Though we found animals throughout the day, the best viewing was early morning and at dusk.  We spotted howler monkeys, spider monkeys, toucans, coati, lots of butterflies and birds, dozens of eyelash pit vipers and even a boa constrictor that was over 4 ft long.

View from the top of the 1968 Lava Trail

We tried a variety of terrain.  One evening we took a 2 hour night hike on the lava trail.  The 1968 lava fields were one of the more challenging hikes, gaining a great deal of altitude in a short period of time, the views from the summit however were impressive, and the trail took you right over one of the towns that was buried in the eruption.  There was a path marked “evacuation route, but as the guide noted, if lava began spilling, we would only have 3 minutes or so to escape, and it took us much longer to hike the trail.  At the end of our lava hike, the sun was setting, so we paused to observe the pond, home to a variety of tree frogs, we spotted 3 different species in the time we were there.
A Tree frog

Next morning, we tried the Sky Walk, a guided hike across hanging bridges through the tree canopy and then down to a series of waterfalls. Again, wildlife was numerous.

A Hanging Bridge

The 3 hour hike was less strenuous than the lava trail, following a cleared path, with bridges.  The effort was moderate as we gained and lost altitude a number of times although the trail was rocky and slippery in places, especially near the waterfalls.  

After our hike we took the Sky Tram to the top of the hill, watching braver tourists return on zip lines, as we took the easy way down on the tram car.

Entrance to a hanging bridge

A waterfall

The Sky Tram

Our hotel, the Arenal Observatory lodge, had more than 7 miles of trails on the hotel property.  Most ranged from two to five km.  Several were paved and accessible to all visitors, but there were other more challenging trails with rock climbing and altitude changes.  We enjoyed a guided waterfall hike, where we saw more monkeys and snakes, but Boy’s favorite walk was the one to the hotel frog pond.

One of many snakes

A waterfall

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