Currently in Cahuita, and with WiFi as sporadic as “warm” showers on the east side of Costa Rica(the Caribbean side), this post covers just day in the park, Baldi Hot Springs, La Fortuna.
Whitewater Rafting the Rio Balsa
By bundling tours with José, our B&B host, the adrenaline filled rafting trip, plus a day at the hot springs, the three of us saved about $160. So for us, we had a real deal on a half-day rafting trip for $50 each. This included transportation to the Rio Balsa, a two hour guided raft trip on class III and IV rapids, fresh fruit cut with a sharp knife on an upturned rubber raft, a sloth family sighting, an eco-educational lesson, a typical “Tico” casado lunch, and a beer. Obviously, a tip at the end of the trip to these well deserved, hard working guides who made this a truly A+ tour.
Unfortunately, because rafting in whitewater usually requires you being wet most of the way, bringing a camera along was appropriately NOT recommended. AND good advice. So, we don’t have any photos of this thrilling adventure. Fortunately, we have to rely on our boat mates from Germany to email them to us when they are home.
Baldi Hot Springs
There are several hot springs to choose from in the Arenal area. Most cater to the tourists, some to the locals. A couple are exclusive to resorts “of the rich and famous”. There is only one that is truly a hot springs sourced with water directly from the ground and that is the original, and pricey, Tobacón. All are within the looming shadow of the ever present Arenal Volcano.
Ask a local for the “FREE” hot springs. He’ll point you in the right direction but be prepared to pay for parking. We didn’t go here but our guidebook said “rustic”. That means no changing rooms, bars, or baños. A few cater to tourist families with something for everyone: doozy waterslides, swim-up bars, jungle pools, waterfalls, and CAVES OF STEAM. We chose the one close to town and middle-of-the-road. Baldi Hot Springs has it all.
We experienced extreme slides like this one, TURBULENCIA, a class IV rapid with 45° drop into a toilet-like bowl.
Relaxed and read in a jungle pool as various tropical birds kept Hali’s camera busy. Admission also included a lunch buffet. With the reviews we read about the buffet, we were originally going to pass on it. All of us were pleasantly surprised: two savory soups, a huge assortment of locally grown fruits and juices, the typical Tico casado (beans,rice, veggies, choices of meats, fried plantains), coffee, flan and cakes.
Spent several hours at Baldi before returning in the evening as this jungle oasis lit up with its steamy ambiance.
When we were here 12 years ago there was one tour company. Today there are so many competing tour groups in the Arenal area we couldn’t even begin to count. We learned that the best way to get a good price on these pricey tours is to make a “deal” with your hotel host. Try to bundle your tours and pay in cash. No need for online advanced reservations.
If you’re in the Arenal area for a few days, skip the street tour vendors, talk to your host about tours. By bundling you’ll save a bundle. Or in La Fortuna, a fortune.
That, my friends, is Pura Vida!