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“Difficult, Rewarding Hike”

Cerro Chato (Chato Volcano)
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$68.00*
and up
Two Volcano Extreme Hike in La Fortuna
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$85.00*
and up
Full-Day Rio Celeste Tour From La Fortuna
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$68.00*
and up
Two Volcanoes Extreme Hike in Arenal
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Reviewed December 29, 2011

I understand there are two routes up Cerro Chato- we took the one closest to the waterfall, that had steps sort of built in with logs. Very challenging hike, very steep- hope you've been on the stairmaster lately! But, it was also gorgeous. We went on an overcast drizzly day and passed only two other couples hiking. The vegetation in the jungle as we hiked up was breathtaking. It was pretty strenuous and as we finally reached the top and a sign that said we had reached the lagoon, we found we had to hike down (over the edge of the crater) a good, challenging way to finally arrive. On this particular day, it was very overcast and we couldn't make out the other side of the crater and the water was freezing. I imagine on a nice day, it would be really beautiful to reach the top and jump in the sunny lagoon and maybe even swim across. Our arrival at the lagoon was a bit of a let down, but still a challenging, fun hike. $10 fee pp

1  Thank Jen K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed December 23, 2011

I went to Cerro Chat in December 2011 on a solo hike. It was a challenging hike that took about 3 hours round trip. I also walked from my hotel (about 2 kms from the La Fortuna Cataratas). The start of the trail is quite wide with fences on either side and then about 30 minutes in you start walking through the forest. The vegetation is quite diverse but be prepared for lots of steps. There are around 500 log steps up to the top of Cerro Chato. Unfortunately I had no views as it was a rainy day with cloud cover but I'd still recommend the hike to anyone interested in nature.

There's no need to do this hike with a guide as you can easily find your way. The trail is extremely well marked. You'll need to pay $10 at the Hotel Green Lagoon Reception where they'll show you the path and have you sign in for security.

On a sunny day I'd imagine you have great views of Arenal.

I'd highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys hiking.

3  Thank ewethey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 25, 2011

Ok the hike is not that bad at all. It took us a little over an hour to get to the lagoon, which was amazing. Wear good hiking shoes and make sure you hike it from near the waterfall because if you go through the park it will cost a lot more. We just asked the taxi driver to take us there and it only cost $7. The view of la fortuna from the trail is breathtaking and the lagoon is a perfect reward. How can anyone pass up swimming in a volcano!? Also, a good way to burn off all those rice and beans ;) Oh, the manager at our hostel told us you couldn't swim in the lagoon anymore...not true.

2  Thank ambyk10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 25, 2011

Ok....so here is the skinny on the Cerro Chato hike....

This hike is no joke! I am 30 years old, in good shape, and have hiking experience. I made it to the top in 1.5hrs and this hike is STEEP! Good news is that you can take your time and take numerous breaks if you wish. I would recommend bringing 2 liters of water and snacks along with you. The views along the way to the forest portion of the hike are breathtaking. Once your are in the forest portion of the hike....the terrain becomes VERY steep with lots of big steps. You literally treck straight through the jungle to the top, AMAZING. Within 30mins, I was COMPLETELY drenched in sweat from head to toe! Once you get to the top, you are not finished. You then have to descend 120 meters to the lagoon in order to visually see the lagoon as the forest obstructs your vision. The 120 meter decent is...yes you guessed it....STEEP! Once you arrive, it is breath-taking and most likely no one else will be there! Feel free to swim out into the teal/emerald lagoon. How many people get the chance to swim in a freaking volcano! And don't worry, there aren't any crocs, alligators, or any other loch-ness type creature in the lagoon, it is completely safe!

You also do not need a guide to do this hike. What you should do is take a taxi to the La Fortuna waterfall and then walk north from the waterfall to a building that sells hike tickets. Simply buy a ticket and you can follow the clearly marked hiking signs all the way to the top. There is only one trail and NO WAY to get confused or lost. We had a guide only because we did not know this before hand and we wished we would have known so that we could have saved considerable money! Good luck and enjoy!!!

11  Thank CarsonRSX
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 28, 2011

My wife and I just returned from Costa Rica. We spent 4 days in the La Fortuna/Arenal area. We hiked to the top of Cerro Chato Volcano and also down into the lake that formed within the crater. (Laguna Cerro Chato). It was a very challenging hike and we were exhausted afterward. (A rough comparison in terms of the difficulty for us was the The Devil's Path Hiking Trail to the summit of Indian Head Mt; Catskill Mountains in New York State). We enjoyed the variety of things to see along the way: A waterfall, hanging bridge, primary rain forest, a ranch/farm, the lake and also the great views of the Arenal Volcano and surrounding hills. It was also very peaceful, we briefly passed three other couples during the hike. For us, this was a nice break from the other more heavily visited tourist activities in the area.

We started the hike from the Observatory Lodge. We hired a taxi to take us there from our hotel. Our hotel was nearer to the town of La Fortuna. If you rented a car it would be an easy drive. There is a gate near the lodge were we paid 2,000 colones/person to enter the observatory lodge property. We asked this person for a map of the trails and he gladly gave us a map. It was a simple paper map, but it was enough for us to navigate the trails. The reception staff at the Observatory Lodge were very helpful and showed us on our map which trails to take to get to the top of Cerro Chato.

The first part of the trail is very well maintained. There is a water fall on the Danta River that you can stop and see - it was beautiful - if you get close enough a mist will cool you down (see photo). There was also a short hanging bridge that takes you across the same river and opens into to the farm/ranch area. Signage along the trail was also good, especially at fork points.

Eventually you get to the base of Cerro Chato. There is a small shelter and a sign that says "Laguna". (If you decided at this point not to hike up the top, you could veer left and take a trail back to the lodge and this would be a reasonably nice hike to do). It will be obvious to you that the terrain of the trail is changing and the ascent is starting. The ascent trail here was tough and long. - we each drank 1 liter of water by the time we got to the top. I think a picture will do more justice than describing this part of the trail. (see photo). As another reviewer mentioned, if it rains this part of the trail would turn to mud.

At the top there is a view of the laguna and a sign pointing towards the trail head to get there. You could also hike over Cerro Chato to the other side and end up at the La Fortuna Water Fall. The sign said 4 hours. The hike down to the Laguna and back up was very difficult. The trail was mostly vertical, slippery, some rocky areas and you had to use all four limbs to move safely. We moved slowly and carefully trying to make sure we had good grips and footing at each movement forward. Getting to The laguna mentally "completed" the hike for us, but otherwise was just ok in terms of a natural site to see. For us it was more rewarding to see the Laguna from the view point a top of Cerro Chato (see photo).

We descending Cerro Chato on the same trail we came up. At this point you can take a farm access road back to the lodge or simply retrace your steps back through the hanging bridge, past the Danta river waterfall to end up back at the lodge. We went back on the access road. There were great views of the surrounding hills, Cerro Chato and Arenal Volcanos. We also saw some beautiful Eucalyptus Trees along the way. Our legs were tired at this point and this was an easy walk. Overall for us it was 4 hours of hiking time.

When we got back to the Observatory Lodge we asked the receptionist to call a taxi cab for us. It took about 30 minutes for them to get there. This offered a great opportunity to sit in the Observatory Lodge Restaurant for a drink. There is an outside deck attached to the restaurant with spectacular views of the Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal.

Overall, it was one of the best activities that we did in the Arenal area. We enjoyed experience a primary forest, a challenging hike, a variety of natural wonders (including a waterfall and lagoon), all in the relative peace of a less visited area.

Shawn
New York

25  Thank ShawnJNY
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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