Tired and grubby we were all looking forward to checking into our the Volcano Lodge and Springs for the second stage of our tour of Costa Rica, taking a hot shower and enjoying a relaxed evening meal. Since leaving the rain forests of Tortuguero earlier that day, we had journeyed miles by boat along canals; bounced 200 km on dusty roads by bus, calling in at a banana plantation, and visited another rainforest where we had traversed suspension bridges and learnt about chocolate production. We were, therefore, slightly dismayed when the tour bus pulled up outside a simple roadside restaurant for our evening meal. Good plain and simple fair – chicken, rice and beans! Clambering back on our tourbus, we steeled ourselves for the final leg of the journey, only to find ourselves dismounting again just minutes later at the Volcano Lodge!
The hotel did not endear itself to us by tagging us with wrist bands upon arrival, even though we now realised we would only be taking a couple of rushed breakfasts during our stay. The accommodation spread out like a motel, with parking spaces in front of each block of rooms. Our room was a fairly lengthy walk from reception and the bar in one direction and the restaurant area in the other. However, the room was comfy with two queen sized beds, well-equipped, and provided a much-needed, good night's sleep. I was woken just before dawn by the sound of rain drilling onto the roof, and our neighbour's early morning conversations (there is very little soundproofing between rooms). Breakfast did not open until 07.00 (the usual costa rican array of delicious, fresh tropical fruits, cake, coffee and juices and hot buffet of rice and beans, eggs) so I opened our back door and was delighted to find a terrace that offered direct access to the hotel’s gardens. As dawn broke, I ventured out and discovered a nature trail around a small lake packed with carp set beside a river with a waterfall. During my wanderings I saw many different birds, marvelled at beautiful plant life and could hear howler monkeys in the distant trees. There was, potentially, a good view of the volcano but unfortunately it remained shrouded in clouds throughout our stay. I did not get to visit the hotel’s own hot springs – there was no time. After a morning of river rafting we were spirited away to another set of hot springs nearby where we also had our evening meal – more chicken, rice and beans!
A brief visit to the nearby town of La Fortuna revealed attractive public gardens and church, and an amazing tree full of iguanas by the river. Back in our room at the end of our day we encountered the most magnificent piece of towel art I have ever seen on all my worldly travels! I wish we had had more time to explore the hotel and enjoy the facilities but after a rushed breakfast we were whisked away to cross the Lake Arenal to the Monteverde Cloudforest for our next adventure.