Catarata de La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Monday morning in La Fortuna, high over cast skies, yet the Arenal Volcano was clearly visible as I walked out the cabina door. Ground was moist with plants covered with thin layers of water droplets from the night before rains. Plenty of birds singing announcing the new day.

A nice relaxed breakfast of Casado, the local breakfast of Costa Ricans meaning the “the marriage“ Rice, beans, plantains, eggs and toast with a nice cup of fresh Costa Rican coffee to get the day going.

Over breakfast we decided we would spend the morning exploring the Catarata de La Fortuna, the waterfall of La Fortuna. A 200 foot drop waterfall coming off the canyons of volcanic rock formations at the base of Arenal Volcano and the dormant Cerro Chato Volcano.

The road leading up to the waterfall park was just around the corner from our hotel, Arenal Rossi, there is also another road leading from the highway between La Fortuna and Ramon.

The sign said 4 km to the waterfalls, ok that’s just under 3 miles, we can walk that with the weather being nice and all. We started the walk with the road being gravel and very little traffic, I think we made it about 1 mile before the complaining started, my son, how much farther, this is going to take for ever. My comebacks were, you know how much I walk in London, Sao Paulo, this is a piece of cake, oh yeah, did I tell you I rode my bike across America? Well knowing the road would get a little steeper and not wanting to hear the whining all the way up I told them to flag the next taxi. 2 minutes later we had a ride, 1200 colones,  just over 2 dollars put us at the ranger station. Well worth it, not from the walking but the complaining.

Reaching the entrance we paid our 8 dollars admission to the park. If the water fall has a 200 foot drop then we had to descend a least 400 feet to the base of the waterfall. The walk down the canyon is a winding and for the most part a well maintained stepped trail through some great rain forest with spectacular views of the surrounding canyon. Every once in awhile you would get a glimpse of the waterfall through the trees. The trail to the bottom took about 20 to 25 minutes, a little slow going with the trail being wet and a little slippery from the nights rain.

If this is your first waterfall, Catarata de La Fortuna is very impressive, if you have seen other great waterfalls like Niagara Falls, yes this is small in comparison. Yet compared to Cascadas de Montezuma “not quite sure when they use Catarata or Cascadas” this fall is a least 3 times as high. The neat thing about Catarata de La Fortuna is how close you can get to the waterfall drop, I mean you can actually get in and try to swim under the fall, yet the chances of making it are pretty slim to none. The force of the water dropping is so strong it pushes the water out at what I would think is at least 10 miles a hour “a guess”, my son and his friend as well as other people visiting the waterfall tried and only got within about 20 feet of the outer edge of the fall.

Around the corner and over a little rise is a great swimming hole that is a lot calmer, making for a great spot for families to experience the clear cold waters of Catarata de La Fortuna with out the force of the fall.
Across the river there is also trails going to the top of the waterfall as well as a trail following the river downstream.

We easily spent a 11/2 hours at the base of the falls, the scenery was great, the waterfall and swimming were well worth the trip down. The climbing back up the canyon was a little harder on the body, yet I think overall it was easier than coming down. On the trip down we were more worried about slipping on the wet stone steps while the way up it was easier maneuvering the wet steps.

In overall I would highly recommend a trip down to see the Catarata de La Fortuna, very impressive and one of the main reasons for coming to Costa Rica , at least for me, to see jungles and waterfalls.



  1. phagemann says:

    I have been down the hill to Catarata de la Fortuna a couple of time in the last 5 years, so far it looks like they are doing a good job of maintaining it.

  2. Catarata de la Fortuna was sort of a secret paradise. i think if this will be preserve and maintained regularly this will be appreciated by so many tourist all around the world.

  3. Great post and pictures on Catarata de La Fortuna. I hope I get to visit there some day.

  4. This is the greatest blog I read all week…


  5. Possibly the GREATEST post that I read ever?

  6. this post is very usefull thx!

  7. pell grant says:

    Great information! I’ve been looking for something like this for a while now. Thanks!

  8. CNA License says:

    Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

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