A trip to La Fortuna is one of the highlights of a Costa Rica trip, and a chance to rejuvenate mind, body and spirit with organic farm produce, hot springs and a whopping great pina colada
Finca Luna Nueva Lodge is a working organic-biodynamic herbal estate with luxury rainforest lodging. We arrived tired and weary and left well fed, refreshed and completely relaxed. Accommodation is in stunning rustic wood cabins dotted throughout the rainforest gardens, and three delicious organic meals are served daily consisting of fresh meat and vegetable produce grown on the farm. I’d completely over-indulged at Christmas and New Year and was convinced that one meal here consisted of more vegetables than I’d had in nearly a week!
This hidden gem is situated just half an hour's drive south of La Fortuna and is home to numerous birds including finches, woodpeckers, toucans and, of course, hummingbirds. We encountered three resident three-toed sloths and heard howler monkeys in the distance. Hundreds of species of medicinal plants, trees and shrubs line the walkways of the gardens, and orchids and birds of paradise were in full bloom.
Staying at the lodge is not only a pleasure, but an education. We took several trails leading from the farm into the heart of the rainforest and encountered many species of insects, frogs, leaf-cutters and millipedes. We were tripping over nature literally metres from our bed. You can even meet the happy Vietnamese pot bellied pigs that you might be getting for dinner the next day. Farmer Stephen gives daily tours of the property and is convinced that if you eat pure, organic, live food your brain as well as your body will function better. Makes perfect sense to me!
If you can tear yourself away from this glorious patch of paradise, you’ll find plenty to do in the surrounding region. Many people visit La Fortuna for views of the magnificent Volcan Arenal. One of the top 10 most active volcanoes in the world, it’s one of Costa Rica’s main highlights. We were incredibly excited at the prospect of witnessing night-time balls of hot lava spewing from the mouth of the volcano, so when the evening arrived we jumped in our hired Suzuki Jimmy and set off from the farm for the hour trip to the main viewpoint. Different people gave us different advice on where to wait and watch. There are numerous places on the road to stop and watch the ‘fireworks’. However, on good recommendation from fellow lodgers at the farm, we were told to head to a place known as ‘the castle’ for the best view.
On arrival, it seemed that everyone else had received this good advice. Maybe 30 or more hopeful visitors were waiting patiently for just a glimpse of a spark… but after waiting for an hour no-one saw a thing. Volcan Arenal is shy. It’s rare for her to poke her head out from the clouds, but don’t let this deter you from visiting in the evening to see the lava. It’s still possible. If only we had been so lucky – at least we tried.
A must-do whilst in the region is a visit to the Eco-Termales hot springs. A reservation-only system (phone ahead to book) means you’ll be sharing the luxurious pools with no more than 100 others per four-hour slot. There are dozens of hot springs in the area, but this is well known as the best and most tasteful. Our visit here was absolutely heavenly. As soon as we sank into the steaming waters it was hard to do anything but sigh with sheer relaxation. The only decisions I had to make whilst there were whether to float and gaze at the rainforest canopy above me, pummel my shoulders beneath the massage waterfall or indulge in yet another delicious piña colada made with fresh coconut and pineapple at the hot spring bar. On finally leaving the volcanic waters we treated ourselves to delicious fresh fish and vegetables at the on-site restaurant.
We were lucky enough to have time to visit yet another natural wonder in the area: La Catarata de la Fortuna, a stunning 70-metre waterfall hidden in a canyon of the sumptuous rainforest. It was a bit of a hike to climb down to the cool pools at the foot of the waterfall, as well as rather crowded, but it’s worth it to look up at the tonnes of foaming water hurtling down the rock face.
Return flights from London Heathrow to San Jose cost anything from £550 upwards. La Fortuna and the Volcan Arenal region is less than three hours from San Jose, or a scenic four-hour trip around Lake Arenal from Monteverde.
Make sure you check out accommodation off the beaten track as La Fortuna has unfortunately developed into a tacky tourist town. Rates at Finca Luna Nueva Lodge start from US$70 per room in the green season, including breakfast.