The road north out of Monteverde was unmarked, unpaved and slightly different from the one coming in. We went over the Continental Divide and you could see a slight change in the landscape. The hills had less trees, the valleys were not as deep, the hills rolling. But everywhere still green and flowers grow in abundance. Clearly this is still cattle and milk country. There were also a lot of coffee plantations.
We met the little boat at Lake Arenal for a transfer south and across to the foot of Volcan Arenal.
The lake is dam created and forms the largest lake in Costa Rica. Here was yet another diverse environment to take in. The first thing I noted was this extraordinary water flower.
There were some beautiful homes on the hills above the lake. I cannot imagine what it would be like to have the year round vantage of seeing the erupting north face of Arenal. We met another van on the south shore of the lake and drove only a little way when he pulled over to show us an often missed site. The river here runs steaming hot. It is the hot springs that feeds the world famous Tabacon Hot Springs resort. Here the locals come take the water for no charge. All over the rocks there is candle wax from those who come at night. I dipped my hands in and it was easily 110+ degrees.
Our hotel in Fortuna was right on the main street downtown. This was truly a tourist town with tour shops and souvenir stands everywhere. The hotel had a bit of a view of Arenal and at any moment the clouds might break and you can see the summit. Unfortunately the view came with telephone wires, but I did manage this one semi clear shot. It is possible to see the glow of rocks and lava from the north face and night visits to a hot springs with a view are a popular activity.
Most of the time the summit was shrouded in clouds and steam.
We checked in with the tour company and I eagerly booked a visit to Cano Negro reserve on the Nicaragua border. Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge would be a unique environment for my visit and I had it on my "must do" since I booked my trip. The Rio Frio runs into Lake Nicaragua and serves as a taxi course for people crossing the border. We took a boat and slowly toured the rivers edge. There were many birds and animals to enjoy. Kingfisher were a tricky sighting and I am luck to have caught this Amazon Kingfisher. They are much shyer and faster than our familiar Belted Kingfisher.
There were a lot of Caiman, Iguana and Basilisks. This Basilisk showed us why they are nicknamed the Jesus Christ Lizard. When young and small, they can run across the water surface. The event was too fast to capture on camera.
We journeyed downriver to the border and went ashore to get a closer look at a field containing a mixed flock of birds. I would have wished to get closer but between the loose horses and cattle, the mucky ground and the nearness of the border we had to hang back. It was a thrill to see Wood Storks , Roseate Spoonbills and Little Blue Herons... all new species for me. As with so many other venues I would have liked far more time here.