Essence Hostel - Arenal Area
Oh my, Costa Rica continues to amaze me! Just arrived last night to the lake arenal/la fortuna region - first it's breathtaking because of its namesake - the volcan Arenal - which was active up until about a year and a half ago. You still see steam coming from its summit and locals expect it will start erupting again in the near future...I would LOVE to see that today as i hear it produces a spectacular light show!
I decided to stay just outside la fortuna in el Castillo - its harder to get to but the extra 30 minutes and bumpy gravel road are so worth it because the views of the volcano and lake are incredible up here! For $29/night i got my own room with spectacular views and use of the 70+ acres of farm, jungle and pasture at Essence Boutique Hostel
What originally drew me here was their $12 vegetarian dinners that you help the onsite chef create...how could I not stay here???!!! Last night was Italian night...the salad did have fresh buffalo mozzarella which I did just have to try and I'm so glad I did - yum!!!!!
Woke up this morning as the sun was rising to birds chirping and decided to do an early morning hike around the property and farm. Its a really beautiful place where jungle and open farmland seem to meet - you can hear cows mooing, howler monkeys, see all sorts of fruits, veggies and herbs plus a chicken coop, compost 'shower' and fish pond that they use to water the produce and naturally keep pests away...
I highly recommend staying here over the more tourist town of la fortuna plus - owners Kelly and Nico are full of information and will make sure you see all the right sights in the area.
Just finished breakfast and, per their recommendation, I am going to hike Cerro Chato - the crater to the right of volcano Arenal in this photo. Takes about four hours but supposed to offer upclose & personal views of the volcano and a refreshing swim in the crater lake at the end-woohoo!