To take the bus to La Fortuna, go to 7-10 Station, which is at Av 7 & Calle 10 (hence the name). The bus to La Fortuna runs at 6:30, 8:30, and 11:30am. Check for schedule changes here: http://thebusschedule.com/cr/index.php
Want to actually find the ticket booth? It’s not on the first floor, near the buses, nor on the second floor, where there are signs for tickets. It’s on the third floor, because that makes sense. I only figured this out after 1) waiting in the wrong line for 20+ minutes, 2) seeing other white people looking confused down near the buses, and 3) asking if they were also going to La Fortuna. In typical fashion, a Canadian left his place in line and walked us up to the third floor ticket window to help us get tickets. We were all going to La Fortuna. This guy+his wife and the 2 girls I had asked for help (also Canadian, but they didn’t know each other).
The bus costs 2800 Colones ($5.25 US) and takes 4 hours. I sat near the 2 girls and made some solid friends by the end of the bus ride.
When we arrived in La Fortuna, it turned out that the 2 girls were going to one hostel, and I was going to the same hostel as the couple. If you’re staying at the Eco Hostel, 1-don’t, 2-it’s pretty tricky to find. Their “300 meters” west from the park is more like 450, and their signage is almost exclusively visible coming from the other direction. The hostel is weird, because it’s in a shopping mall. There’s also ZERO security late at night, no locks on any doors, and anyone can come and go as they please, because the desk is almost never staffed. Stay somewhere else. I forget the name, but the hostel where the other half of our new group stayed had a pool, was closer to the center of everything, and included free breakfast. It bills itself as being 75 meters east of the bus station, so find that one and stay there.
We all split up to get things sorted out, and I was famished, so I found OrganicoFortuna (1 block east of the park) and had a huge salad + a smoothie, because it was too hot for any hot food. I also walked around, getting oriented to the town, and bought some fruit at the supermarket. On the way back, I ran into the Canadian girls and talked to them on the sidewalk for over an hour, including trying to convince them to sign up for the zipline tour I was doing the next morning (no such luck). Rad people, though. We made plans to meet up after I got back the next day.
The zipline tour with Sky Adventures was awesome. You can pay an extra $14 to have pick-up/drop-off service from your hotel/hostel, which is completely necessary, if you don’t have a rental car. The meetup location is 45 minutes out of town.
After getting back from losing my mind in the jungle, I hung out at the other hostel with the Canadians and went out for lunch/swam in the pool there while being serenaded by Spanish versions of American pop songs. At dinner time, the whole group met up, ate together, and then figured out the logistics of going to where the locals visit the hot springs, which is free, requires bringing some candles, and requires either a taxi or your own car to get there. Hire a taxi and then establish a pick-up with the driver for your return ride. Ask around. I’m not going to tell you how to get to the spot, because it needs to stay free of too many lazy foreigners with kids, no real sense of adventure—the types you stay at hostels to avoid. It was awesome, though.
The next morning, I went on a jungle adventure course with Sky Adventures, which included more ziplines, rapelling, hiking, climbing, rope swings, and a ton of great views. I’d skip the ziplines and just do this thing. Same departure point in the jungle and same need for the pick-up option.
After I returned, the Canadians had all gamed out this awesome local spot with a rope swing/tall rocks to jump off of into the river. It’s called “Salto.” To get there, go south across the bridge on Calle 472. Follow this road out of town to a big curve in the road after the roads toward the waterfall/end of the town area. You’ll come to a small bridge over the river, and there’s a path down on the left. Don’t bring anything valuable that you have to leave out on the rocks while swimming/playing. When you jump in from the rope swing, instead of going up on the log ladder, you can swim out the other direction, toward the rocky area, and climb up the rocks on the same side as the rope swing. It’s pretty obvious, if you turn that way, even though you wouldn’t think there’s a way out there. The log ladder/wading through the rapids to come out is much harder than this back route.
We walked back into town, changed clothes, and ventured over to The Flying Tomato for dinner. We had seen signs for their restaurant spray-painted around town, and we thought any vegetarian restaurant with this kind of marketing campaign deserves a visit. The food wasn’t anything substantial, but the family who owns it was super nice to us, and we even played a game of Uno with their daughter (who’s maybe age 7). Great times. We were the only ones there, and we were treated like family. It’s 1 block north and 2 blocks east of the park. Cash only, obviously.
At dinner, we talked about what everyone was doing in the coming days. I wanted to go on to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, pretty soon. The couple wanted to head there, but maybe not directly, and the girls had no real plans. New plan: everyone go there together tomorrow. We figured out some bus info, looked up some hostels, and agreed to all meet at the bus station the following morning.
Food tip: look for these Veganico muffins inside the restaurant advertising $3 breakfast near the main park/on the main street.
Next up: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua – how to get there easier, faster, and cheaper than most info on routes from La Fortuna.
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