In the shade of the iconic, cone shaped Arenal Volcano, and just a few hundreds of meters away from the famous ‘La Fortuna’ waterfall, there’s a less well known but worthwhile spot… Are you looking for an authentic and cheap experience in the region of La Fortuna with great views? Are you in a good physical condition and not you scared of getting sweaty and dirty? Then Cerro Chato is for you!
Cerro Chato in the background
This inactive volcano erupted for the last time about 3500 years ago. What remains is a massive and steep hill with a huge lake in the former crater. Although it doesn’t have the same inclination as it’s big brother Arenal, you would swear that it almost can’t get any steeper on some parts of the way up. It really is a very tough hike, but very fun as well. In the following pictures you can check out the details about the duration of the hike, elevation meters and so on. Based on this information you should be able to estimate whether or not it's a hike for you:
The hike starts off at the ‘Wellbeing resort Green Lagoon’. You’ve got to pay at the reception and you can ask there for some information about the hike. We don’t remember exactly what they charged us but we think it was about 5000 Colones per person. They will tell you which path to take and that at a certain point you’ll encounter a sign that indicates the end of the hike. Actually, there the hike continues up towards Cerro Chato. Since this is part of the Arenal National Park, you’re not supposed to enter. The staff at the reception is very aware though that most people enter with the purpose to hike all the way up to Cerro Chato.
The hike starts at 'Wellbeing resort Green Lagoon', west of Cerro Chato
A group of bulls blocked our path, we preferred to take a small detour around them!
As you can see in the pictures below, you’ll sometimes have to climb your way up on the dirt path. Don’t worry to get lost… The path is always very visible and otherwise it’s just always up… :-) We were lucky enough that it didn’t rain during our adventure. We are quite sure though that the path becomes very slippery when it rains and we would really discourage you to start the hike if you already know that it is going to rain.
We must be honest that we were very happy to arrive at the top after this very though climb! The view of the Arenal Volcano with the crater lake of Cerro Chato in the foreground is just amazing. Luckily we got to see the top of Volcán Arenal, because it’s not always that way!
As saw on MapsMe (read more about why we like this application so much to hike around in Costa Rica) that there was a path to the east to get down to the crater lake, we took the way to arrive there. It all went well until we tried to find the path down… At the point where MapsMe indicated us to follow a path down, there was almost no path but we decided to try it out. In the video below you can get an idea of what the entry looked like:
After walking about 20 meters down, we decided to go back. That was easier said than done though, because we had ended up on a very steep slope and were literally sliding down the hill… We just want to point out that, in Costa Rica, following the small paths on MapsMe doesn’t always work out the way you expect. Keep in mind that Costa Rica is a very wild country and that paths might disappear with time.
Well, in the end we didn’t go all the way down to the crater lake because our legs were just so tired and we had in mind that we still needed to walk all the way back down. The best way to arrive at the crater lake is just following the path straight to the west bank of the lake.
In the image below we show you which paths are doable in green and the path we tried to take, but didn’t turn out well in red:
Getting back down to the first viewpoint of the hike, we sat down for a while and enjoyed the feeling of having accomplished this great adventure..!