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“Difficult hike and I'm in shape.”

Cerro Chato (Chato Volcano)
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Two Volcano Extreme Hike in La Fortuna
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Phelan, California
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22 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
“Difficult hike and I'm in shape.”
Reviewed 16 June 2014 via mobile

My wife and I hiked this from the Arenal Observatory Lodge. The first 30 minutes is easy. When you get to the base and start working up it becomes difficult. It was raining which made it very slippery. It is muddy, slippery, difficult areas to climb, and exhausting.
When you get to the top it becomes very muddy. You take a step and your whole shoe gets covered in mud. There are some difficult areas to overcome when you head down to the lagoon. Shorter people will have a hard time with this hike. We got to the lagoon and could only see about 20 feet because it was so cloudy and rainy. We almost had to turn around a couple if times because my wife was really struggling. Just take your time, rest, and drink water. I don't think the hike was worth it, but I am glad that we fought to make it all the way or we would never know. I have no desire to do this hike again, even if it is clear outside.

Visited June 2014
1 Thank Jamezjojo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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59 reviews
28 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
“Not for everyone but the highlight of our trip”
Reviewed 7 June 2014 via mobile

I am not an experienced hiker so was a bit nervous about the hike based on the reviews here. So glad we did it. We took the Arenal lodge route which supposedly is is the easier route. We came during the rainy season and it was torrential rain on our way up, giving us the sense that we are climbing up a waterfall. Not gonna lie to you, I gave up 5 times. But somehow always convinced myself to go on. Once you get over the mental block, you'll be fine. Yes some of the steps are steep (I am barely 5 feet tall) but Mother Nature created this beautiful staircase with tree trunks and roots. It was amazing. You can be Tarzan and pull yourself up with these tree roots as well (just tug first to ensure they are sturdy).

When we reached the top, the rain stops and I had to convince myself again to go down to the Laguna. Luckily it stopped raining at that point so we went. I don't think we'll be able to make it if it was still raining. We slides down most of the way and met a couple of people (with guides) halfway which gave me a morale boost since they told us we were almost at the Laguna. Somehow we made it. The Laguna was covered with fog. Just wait a little and it seconds it will open up and you can actually see the entire laguna. We cleaned up our shoes and feet a bit but didn't jump in.

On the way down, I was able to enjoy the scenery a bit, took some pictures. Listened to the sound of the animals and trees. At the end of the trail, there was a small waterfall (not the one they advertise where you have to pay) where we spent quite some time at. Cleaning our shoes, feet, go into the water a bit.

It took us 3.5 hours round trip - probably 2 hrs to go up, an hour to go down. About 40 min to walk from the parking lot to the actual trail and about 30 min at the waterfall. We took a couple of mini breaks.. Despite limited signage, the nature made path is well marked so it would be pretty difficult to miss unless if you go off the path which I wouldn't recommend.

Start early and go for it! It was a once in a lifetime experience hiking in a rainforest.

Visited June 2014
3 Thank Agustinkwo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
14 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“beautiful views, but difficult hike”
Reviewed 30 May 2014

after reading many things online I decided to hike the La Fortuna waterfall and Cerro Chato my first day in Fortuna. I had read many sites that told me they could be done in the same hike. I walked from town to the start of the La Fortuna waterfall hike. Tickets are $10 usd a person. When I was at the waterfall I saw no signs pointing to Cerro Chato, so I asked a local. He told me I had to walk back up to the parking lot and buy tickets to do that trail separately (that building is located in the same parking lot). I bought the tickets to that (also $10usd) a person and moved on. the hike itself was pretty insane. to get the the green lagoon, you walk up the whole time on a trail that can be very slippery in places. the views are amazing, and are close to the most beautiful I have every seen. once at the top you have to go down about 100 meters to actually get to the green lagoon. this part of the trail was intense. I had read other reviews calling it a "scramble," and it was MUCH more difficult than expected. was it worth it? yes. was it dangerous? very. I have done many strenuous hikes, and this one falls very close to the hardest I've ever done. I don't know if it was the latitude or the humidity, but this hike kicked my butt. I don't ever write reviews but I decided to for this because if you do this hike you need to know:
1. start as early as possible and eat a good breakfast
2. take more water than you think you need. I drank two full camelbacks and still ran out before the bottom
3. do not walk there---take a cab
4. be mentally prepared to work your butt off

I am so happy I did this hike-the views and jungle you see are breathtaking. having done it would I do it again, probably not.

good luck!!

Visited May 2014
1 Thank salowi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Los Angeles, California, United States
Level Contributor
133 reviews
82 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 72 helpful votes
“Difficult, muddy, amazing and totally worth it”
Reviewed 29 May 2014

We had an incredible time exploring the beautiful property of Arenal Observatory Lodge, where we started the trek. From there the hike went from a paved path to a dirt road to a muddy uphill scramble. It took us a total of 4 hours (including the side trail down to the emerald lagoon) to complete the hike. You can start as early as 6am and the latest you an start is 2pm. The entry fee is $8 per person.

Check out our story on the experience for more tips, photos included! Enjoy :)

Visited May 2014
Thank MrandMrsAdventure
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
15 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
“Tough hike”
Reviewed 29 May 2014

Who: Three trim 25-year old guys; relatively athletic

We started this hike from the Arenal Observatory rather than La Fortuna Waterfall. At the observatory, there is a reception area with wifi, restaurant with an amazing views of the volcano (maybe even better than the view of the volcano from the typical national park hike), clean bathrooms, and indoor sitting areas. It's a good 45 min to an hour walk before you even get to the trail. This is a picturesque walk through farmland and offers truly amazing views. This was one of our favorite parts of the hike and we took our own sweet time on this walk.

The actual cerro chato trail is a whole different beast. It's a very strenuous ascent which lasts about 1.5 hours if you keep a good pace. It was a struggle to say the least, and 2/3 of the way up, we were pausing every 5-7 minutes for a breather. We were lucky that the ground was relatively dry otherwise it would have been pretty slippery and much more difficult. When we finally reached the top, the view of the lake in the crater was awesome. If you want to go down to the lake, you can go left for a while and then start your descent. We did this by accident and found the descent to be even steeper than the hike up. HOWEVER, If you want to go up from the observatory like we did and come down on the La Fortuna waterfall side, LOOK RIGHT when you get to the brim. When you reach the brim and look to your right, this will offer you your first view of the lake. This will be marked by a tree stump and a nice flat area to take in the view. At this point, you will see a sign that says "La Fortuna Catarata 4 hrs". (First of all, this means La Fortuna Waterfall. Second of all, 4 hrs is false. It will take 1.5-2 hours tops if you maintain a good pace.) The sign points to the right. This trail barely even looks like a trail, and we completely missed it the first time. However, if you squeeze through it for a while, it will eventually widen into a normal size trail, at which point, when you reach the fork, you will go right and start descending back down the side of the mountain toward La Fortuna. The descent will start off through the forest like the ascent, but will eventually become a very wide open trail that cuts through mountainside farmland. It's kind of steep and has gravel, so it's actually the slipperiest part of the whole journey. Be careful. We all slipped and fell down at some point. At one point you will come to a crevasse. Don't worry, just walk down into the crevasse and back up the other side to continue on your way down the open trail. At the very end of your descent you will pass by a place on your left side called the Green Lagoon Lodge. It will seem counter intuitive because you will start ascending again, but in a few hundred feet, the trail will turn left and then descend right down into the La Fortuna Waterfall parking lot. Either at the lodge or at the national park building adjacent to the waterfall parking lot, you can call for a taxi. Keep in mind that the national park building closes at 5 pm. We got there at 5:45 pm and were able to call a cab because I found a janitor with a cell phone.

Mistakes we made:
-did not bring enough water
-left too late (We left at 1:30 pm and were told on the way up by two guides that we needed to pick up the pace or turn around otherwise we weren't going to make it back before dark. They were right. Fortunately, we sped it up and make the round trip in 4.25 hours without going down to the lake, but also by getting lost once and had to go back to a retrieve a lost item once. If you don't go down to the lake and don't get lost, it shouldnt take longer than 4. If I did this again in the future, I would not leave later than noon.)

Something to note: If you leave from one national park and return via the opposite route, you will have to pay the entrance fees for both parks (even if you are just exiting from one of them). We avoided this by getting back after the park closed.

Entrance fee for Arenal observatory is $8 per person. Entrance fee for La Fortuna Waterfall is $10 per person.

Hope this was helpful. I wish I would have known all this when I started.

Visited May 2014
11 Thank Jeev23
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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