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Arenal Expeditions

La Fortuna, Costa Rica
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Ashley G wrote a review Dec 2019
Tonawanda, New York26 contributions13 helpful votes
My husband and I were staying at a resort in Papagayo. It is about 3 hours each way to Arenal but well worth it. We opted for the private tour, so it was just us, our guide Sandino, and our driver Jose. I would highly recommend a private tour as you can take your time and not be at anyone else’s beck-and-call. We were picked up at the hotel promptly at 7am, with the promise of a full day ahead (plan for 12 hours). We got on the road and Sandino started talking about everything from animals we may see to history of the country, landscape, volcanoes...you name it, we touched on it. About halfway through we stopped at a little cafe to stretch, use very clean bathrooms, and get some breakfast for the road. My husband opted for a breakfast sandwich that was big enough for two, and we shared an iced cappuccino that was pretty good. Now, when I say rainforest, take that to heart. Bring ponchos and an umbrella if you have one, a water camera and change of shoes is also preferable. We arrived in a downpour that continued for the first hour and a half we were there. While one store was out of ponchos, we grabbed the last two at the gift shop on site. And we were glad to have them. We started our journey and didn’t know what to expect. While the hike is only about 2 miles, there was a lot of up and down. My husband has a bad leg and some of it was hard for him, but he made it. (My Fitbit pegged me at 125 floors on the hike alone, if that is any indication.) The hanging bridges are sprinkled throughout, 9 in all. And while a little intimidating at times, they were so cool!! They can hold 15 people at once, but usually the 3 of us (me, my husband, and our guide) were the only ones on, and it was great for taking pictures and video of the view. Let’s talk insects and wildlife. Some of the things we were lucky enough to see: bats, butterflies, birds, praying mantis, spiders, monkeys. We looked for sloths, poison dart frogs, snakes. But keep in mind, it was pouring rain for quite some time, so we were happy to see what we did. The waterfall. Breathtaking. My husband didn’t try to make it down, it was a steep walk. But it was beautiful. We spent about 5 minutes there, just taking in the rushing water, the splendor. If you are feeling up to it, worth the walk. Give yourself about 2-3 hours to really enjoy the nature. The sounds of silence. Birds chirping. Water rushing. Being surrounded by beauty. We then went to lunch after. We parted ways with our guide and enjoyed a nice buffet on our own. They had a decent selection: a chef grilling beef to order, soups, potatoes, pastas, salads, breads, desserts. Water, coffee and tea were included, soft drinks and alcohol were available but extra. After a leisurely lunch we got to explore the hot springs. Incredible. There were easily a dozen different pools to take a plunge in, all different temperatures. The hottest was still below 100 Fahrenheit, all marked so you knew what you were getting into, literally. Some featured waterfalls, others still pools. But each was stunning in its own way. We spent a half hour just walking them taking pictures, trying to take them all in. If you have water shoes, bring them along. Some of the pools were very rocky and almost painful to explore beyond the entrance. With plenty of pools to explore, we never felt crowded or cramped. It was almost an unspoken rule that if someone else entered the pool you moved along (but not necessary). There are shower facilities, lockers and towels available on site, all clean and nice. We used the spinner to dry our suits so we could put them in our beach bags and not have to use plastic (our guide seemed adamant on not using plastic, especially in the rainforest. Understandable after seeing the majesty around us). We thought this was the end, but we were so glad to be wrong. I wanted so badly to see a sloth. We searched diligently and had no luck in the rainforest, and Sandino and Jose couldn’t let us leave without getting what we wanted. While we spent 2 hours having lunch and enjoying the hot springs, they were out finding us exactly what we wanted. The last 20 minutes before we went home were filled with more excitement and adrenaline than the rest of the tour combined. We pulled off to the side of the road where a troop of monkeys were playing in the trees. And we got up close and personal. I stood feet below taking pictures as they swung in the branches above us. Other passersby realized our fortune and stopped to take pictures as well (on the way back through moments later, there was nowhere to park!). After tons of great shots, we continued up the road to a turnaround where a sleepy sloth perched high atop a tree. He even glanced our way for a few pictures before returning to his slumber. As I was trying to figure out the perfect angle and lighting, the shouts of “RUN!!! QUICK!!” came from the roadway. I took off full-speed and came upon a massive traffic jam as a sloth was crossing the road!! He was booking it, likely trying to get to the sleepy sloth in the tree we were just photographing, to mate. We lost him in some bushes but were close enough to touch him. So incredibly cool. After that we journeyed back to the resort. With the exception of Jose, I think we all dozed off for a bit, after the excitement and beauty of the day. We saw so much. We did so much. It was incredibly beautiful, humbling, relaxing, exciting, and exhilarating. And easily our most recommended tour to new friends around the pool at the resort. **While the beauty of the rainforest and relaxation of the hot springs are imminent, the extras would not have been possible without Sandino and Jose. We booked through Olympus tours and, if possible, request this duo so you can experience the same wonders that we did!!**
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Date of experience: December 2019
2 Helpful votes
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erinorielly23 wrote a review Oct 2019
1 contribution
6 of my friends and I went on this tour when we were in La Fortuna and it was an amazing experience!!! We would all highly recommend doing the full day tour. If you are in La Fortuna, definitely check this out!!
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Date of experience: May 2019
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Response from Angelo_Costa_Rica, Propietario at Arenal Expeditions
Responded Nov 7, 2019
Thank you so much for reviewing us!. We are very happy to read your feedback. As a Local Guide i always care about your travel experience always must be Safe-fun and full of wildlife. Thanks once again for trusting us and for supported the local!. Pura vida!.
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eeseasdaszds wrote a review Jul 2019
Roanoke, Virginia270 contributions38 helpful votes
Stare at the waterfall for about 5 min. then shift your eyes to the wall of the canyon. It moves our wnderful tour guide showed us this and so much more of this natural beauty. The steps up were hard but worth everyone the place where the two rivers meet is surreal. Great hike lots to see much variety. I would do it again.
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Date of experience: June 2019
2 Helpful votes
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Response from Angelo_Costa_Rica, Propietario at Arenal Expeditions
Responded Nov 7, 2019
Thank you!! we appreciate your feedback and want to thank you for support the local business. it was a pleasure having you here in Costa Rica,Rio Celeste.
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Evalu8 wrote a review Jun 2019
Greater London, United Kingdom866 contributions394 helpful votes
Fitness permitting, from the time you enter the park entrance to the first waterfall it takes about 20-25 minutes. There are a few strenuous ups and downs, especially the stairs down to the waterfall. You also have a further couple of scenic points along the rest of the trail, including a small lagoon type bend in the river where you can see the fantastic colour of the water from a flat viewing area. You then hike along an uneven track to an elevated viewing platform on stilts which holds a maximum of 8 people, with lovely views of the jungle. You then have a further decline down over a couple of ‘Indiana Jones’ type bridges to the end of the trail- which is at the source of the ‘blue river’ - a mineral spring beneath the clear water allowing you to see how the silicate spring gives you the optical illusion of the azure waters. Just remember that wherever you go you have to come all the way back to where you came, so if you’re feeling tired or exhausted before you reach the end you might wish to reconsider completing it. It rained on and off all the way through our trip, varying from torrential rain to beautiful blue skies. So expect to get wet and sweaty! It can also be quite treacherous and slippy, so be careful, however you may find that they close the park if it gets too wet. It’s a beautiful hike, but not for the faint hearted. Give yourself at least 2-2.5hrs to enjoy it, but take plenty of water. Pros Stunning waterfall and views Partially paved in parts Cons Some parts are quite physical Can get very muddy and slippy
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Date of experience: June 2019
4 Helpful votes
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Michael S wrote a review May 2019
Amsterdam, The Netherlands46 contributions55 helpful votes
We enjoyed visiting the national park. The walk is great, and suitable for young kids. The jungle is great and there is plenty of wildlife. The colour of the water is amazing! Like all of the national parks in CR, the entry price is very high at $15 for an adult.
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Date of experience: May 2019
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