By: Anjelica Veca and Christine Krishnan
Just as the US economy started its meltdown in 2007, Costa Rica's iconic Arenal Volcano--formally one of the most-active volcanoes in the world--was having a meltdown of its own.
The once fiery giant was becoming dormant.
The Arenal Volcano had put the small rural town of La Fortuna on the map, but as the volcano's exciting daily eruptions died down, it was feared the town's tourism livelihood would soon be dead, as well.
The ingenuity and innovation of its residents, business owners, and tour operators helped breathe new life into the town.
However, La Fortuna--or in English "The Fortunate"--managed to continue on a lucky-streak despite a collapsed international economy and a dormant volcano. The ingenuity and innovation of its residents, business owners, and tour operators helped breathe new life into the town.
It became clear tourists no longer wanted to sit and watch; they wanted to have experiences on their vacations! And La Fortuna with its lush rainforest, green mountains, raging rivers, natural hot springs, picture-perfect waterfalls, and a pristine fresh-water lake can turn anyone's vacation into an adventure.
According to TripAdvisor, La Fortuna has more than 148 unique, interactive tours designed to make the customer the protagonist of his or her own experience. Nature walks in La Fortuna that included picturesque backdrops of the mountains and rivers have now evolved into canyoning tours where adventurous tourists rappel, down climb, and plunge into pools within isolated rainforest canyons. The experience of tasting traditional Costa Rican dishes in local restaurants became the experience of preparing them during an interactive cooking class. Toe-tapping while listening to tropical music on the radio transformed into a full-blown immersion into the vibrant Costa Rican culture through salsa lessons with wine and local moonshine included. And sight-seeing boat tours turned into exciting river safari floats and breath-taking stand up paddle and kayaking experiences on the pristine Lake Arenal beneath the majestic Arenal Volcano.
The Arenal Volcano is resting while La Fortuna has entered into a new age: the age of experience and adventure.
Today, the small town of La Fortuna continues to be the main destination for adventure-seekers in Costa Rica and receives an estimated 78% of all visitors to the Central American country. In fact, the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism (ICT), reported an influx of more than 2.6 million tourists to Costa Rica in total, a healthy 500,000 more visitors than recorded the previous year and the great majority citing they came for the adventure. This number is expected to continue to rise.
The Arenal Volcano is resting while La Fortuna has entered into a new age: the age of experience and adventure. The experience-centric tour revolution took a town faced with the double crisis of an economic recession and a dormant volcano and turned it into a bustling touristic hub with undeniable adventure travel appeal.