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“Don't expect a view in the rainy season”

Cerro Chato (Chato Volcano)
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Two Volcano Extreme Hike in La Fortuna
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Aspley Guise, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
63 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
“Don't expect a view in the rainy season”
Reviewed 17 July 2014

It was alternating torrential rain and fog, visibility was so poor I walked into a cow and my first sight of the lagoon I was nearly in it. I am still trying to work out why I enjoyed it, but I really really did. Part of it was being entirely by myself (I set off from the car park at 7.30am at the Green Lagoon Hotel and did not see a soul until I was on my way back down over two hours later). I found the the muddy path through fields at the start tedious but once I was in the forest I was happy. Be warned - it is then steps all the way which is quite different muscles from walking on the flat. The path down to the lagoon is steep and muddy and involves using your hands in places but never felt dangerous. Swimming all alone in a volcanic crater lake shrouded in fog was freaky.

Visited July 2014
Thank dave f
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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588 reviews from our community

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Washington, DC
Level Contributor
12 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Very difficult hike”
Reviewed 15 July 2014

After seeing pictures of the lagoon and hearing other people’s descriptions of the hike, I added this activity to our group’s itinerary as I thought it would be fun, a good way to see some nature and some great views of Arenal volcano. However, from my research I could not get a clear idea on which was the best side of the mountain to start the hike from, the Arenal Observatory Lodge side or the La Fortuna Waterfall side. The morning of the hike I spoke with our hotel concierge. He very confidently advised starting from the waterfall side saying the path was more improved and told us to ensure we had plenty of water, snacks, and good shoes. The concierge called a cab to take us the Green Lagoon hotel, where you pay $10 a person to access their trail to Cerro Chato. Before I continue I should let you know that our group consisted of 7 people in our late 20s and early 30s. One person in our group has run multiple half marathons, we have one spin instructor, a guy who seriously weight trains 4-5 times a week, myself who couldn’t run a mile if my life depended on it, and a few in-betweens. We all finished the hike, but were all pretty undone by it.

This was by far one of the most strenuous and technical hikes I have ever participated in and despite hating to run, I do like to hike. All told the hike took about 5 hours, including a couple of water breaks and a short break to swim at the crater top. Between the heavy humidity and elevation it was hard to keep your breath. Most of the hike was quite muddy as well. However, getting to swim in a lagoon in the crater of an extinct volcano is a once in a lifetime experience and I am glad we were able to make it. Also during the hike, at one point the clouds parted and we were afforded a rare, cloud-free view of the top of Arenal Volcano. However, I would not recommend others include this excursion while in La Fortuna/Arenal as there are much better ways to spend limited vacation days.

Visited June 2014
1 Thank rachelc84
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bay Shore, New York
Level Contributor
16 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Tough hike but worth it!”
Reviewed 15 July 2014

I felt like Indiana Jones on this hike. Yes it's more advanced than a walk up the hill and if you want to get to the Green Lagoon be prepared to use some handy ropes to get you down about a 10' drop. The "hike" is more of a steady uphill climb through roots and steps after the first 25 minutes or so. It took us almost 2 hours to get to the top and then down to the Lagoon. It was raining almost the whole time, so we had to be careful about where we stepped. Oh and watch out for the cow pies in the beginning of the trail! The bummer for us was that because of the rain and clouds we couldn't see the lagoon when we got to the top and when we got down to the lagoon to swim you couldn't tell that it was green either. The swim in the cool water is just what you need to get yourself refreshed for the walk back down. However, it was a great hike and we were definitely glad we did it. But our shoes were trashed and didn't make the trip back home. We saw one dude doing the trail in flip flops I can't even imagine how he made it especially with the rain. But it was probably easier to clean his feet off than our sneakers!

Visited July 2014
Thank Lauren979
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
29 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“Difficult and make sure everyone is in shape and a nature lover”
Reviewed 7 July 2014

Beware of sales booth just prior to Arenal Lodge entrance. Three of us, all in shape, completed a1 hour hike one day and planned to return to complete the Cerro Chato hike on another day. Paid $10 each. Sales person, Roman, sold it as "no problem and feel free to return." When we did return, we had our tickets and his name as proof. The new representative was not agreeable. Eventually we worked it out and continued but it took pressure and threats of a poor review.

More importantly, this trail is well-marked and difficult. The first 30 minutes are easy. The path we took, not the Arenal Lodge path, gradually became more difficult. Although the rain had ended, portions of the path were more like creeks with no footing. There were two really huge trees with incredible overgrowth towards the top which blocked our way due to the path being water-logged and equal to quicksand. Normally, would have gone around the trees and back to the path, but deemed it an unnecessary danger. Stay on the path. You can be three feet from a rainforest path and not even know it is there.

I will probably go back and complete this hike from the Arenal Lodge side. It would probably be an easier hike. One of our members on our hike was extremely high maintenance. It's important to remember that rain forests have RAIN and a hike is not supposed to be a walk in the park.

Visited June 2014
Thank Angus2000
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Brooklyn, New York
Level Contributor
33 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“Best hike in Costa Rica”
Reviewed 7 July 2014

I worked in Costa Rica for 3 months and traveled all over the country. I did the hike twice and it's my favorite one in the country. The first time I went with other tour guides it was very cloudy. When I made it to the top I could not see the lagoon, or Volcano Arenal right next door. Although it's a bit of a disappointment when it's cloudy, the hike is still beautiful and you can't control the weather.
The second time I went was with my parents who are both in their mid fifties. Sure, it is a tough hike and you have to be in shape but it is not impossible! This time the weather was clear and perfect. You could see the lagoon and Volcano Arenal. It was one of their favorite parts of the trip.
I would recommend walking down to the crater and swimming in the lagoon.. I mean, when else will you have the opportunity to swim in a lake in a dormant volcano!
I would also recommend beginning the hike around 5 or 6am (sun rises shortly after). That way, you make it up before the day gets too hot. Also, the first half of the hike is uncovered and I would not recommend climbing it in the sun. The second half (when the sun comes out) is in the forest so it is much cooler. The trail is well marked and you do not need a guide. Each time I started the hike around 5am and finished just in time to eat a huge gallo pinto breakfast!
Hiked June and August 2013

Visited August 2013
1 Thank Elyse A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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