We decided one Sunday morning when we woke up early to head out on a slightly longer trip to Arenal Volcano, looking on the map we could travel to Cañas then turn off towards the lake then travel around the lake to the volcano. We thought that there was a road that went all the way around the lake but if there was we were never able to find it, but more of that later.
It was still fairly early when we set out and as we headed east we could see a huge swathes of cloud covering Arenal in the distance, despite ML doubting his lovely lady of the Sat Nav for a few minutes we were, according to the map heading in the right direction.
We drove up and down hills, passed through small towns and eventually came up to a parking place high up at the top of a hill. We could look down on the lake, everything was misty as if you were looking at it through foggy glasses and if we looked to our right (thanks to the man selling bracelets for pointing it out) we could just make out Arenal Volcano amongst the cloud.
The road twisted and turned downwards as we got closer to the edge of the lake, we began to see signs for windsurfing and kite surfing, conditions on the lake are apparently excellent and lots of people come to learn and take part in the sport.
The closer we got to the lake side the more patches of sunshine we encountered, it was very schizophrenic in that one minute it was thick mist and drizzly rain and the next bright sunshine. As we came round a steep curve we were met with a small rainbow over part of the lake, a lovely surprise.
The road follows the perimeter of the lake and there are lots of small restaurants, and hotels that are scattered about. We stopped at a small café for a coffee and to use the facilities (I was going to put have a wee but decided I really shouldn’t). The coffee when it arrived was spectacular but we had to wait nearly 20 minutes. After some investigation we found it was being made using a chorreader which is a coffee making device used in Costa Rica. Hot water filters through coffee grounds held in a cloth bag mounted on a wooden stand that drips into a cup, very slow process but the taste, mmmm…………….
We set off again and soon began to see lots of colourful signs advertising places along the way to stay and eat, some of the ones we saw were for the Gingerbread Hill Restaurant, Toad Hall with its brightly coloured buildings and toad statue at the front, the German Bakery, and a little piece of Switzerland.
Yes I did say Switzerland, on a hill facing the lake is Hotel Los Heroes, which consists of a large Swiss chalet, a dairy farm, a small chapel, a railway station complete with a miniature train with 3.5 km of track which takes you to a revolving restaurant. Wonders will never cease.
By the time we had passed the Switzerland the sun had burnt off the mist and we had a bright blue sky and the temperature had began to rise. I think when we were at the café that was the coldest I had been since I came to Costa Rica, it was a good 10 – 12 degrees centigrade cooler than Guanacaste.
There is so much to see that you find your eyes going from the lake side to the mountain side and back again as you spot something new to look at, what we weren’t expecting as we came around a corner was to find the road blocked with cars as people got out of their cars to feed a band of coati’s who were spread out across the road.
This is obviously a change in eating habits for the Coati which I have already talked about in Las Pumas Rescue Centre – Part One but it probably bears repeating that there is a law, Act No. 7317 Law of Wildlife Conservation that in effect says
Do not remove or disrupt any plant life. Do not attempt to engage or remove any animal from their habitat. Do not feed the animals because it will change their eating habits and create an unhealthy dependence on humans.
It was lovely to see them I can’t deny that and also so many at once but it is simple to see how easily they could be hurt or killed by continuing the practice. Also if anyone had come around the corner at any type of speed they would have had a problem stopping and not hitting one of the cars parked in the road.
Definitely a dilemma for the Costa Rican conservation ethos, they need the tourists to fund their projects but the tourists want to see the animals. Maybe better education of tourists is needed. I didn’t know about the Costa Rican law with regards to plants and animals but common sense tells you not to do harm.
I guess the problem is what is the definition of harm? Did the lady hanging out of her car window feeding the coati mango feel she was harming it?
I will leave you with that thought but I will continue our journey next time.