From Sugar Bread to a powerful volcano: a natural catastrophe converted La Fortuna on what it is nowadays, an obligatory touristic destinyCreated by: Diego Rojas Kopper, student of the Agropecuario High School of San Carlos.
La Fortuna of San Carlos is part of this natural paradise that we call Costa Rica. Surrounded by a resplendent flora and fauna and embellished by the majestic and powerful Arenal Volcano, this is a jewel for sharing with the rest of the world. The tourism is the principal source of work in the zone, but it wasn't always like this way. Before the colossus awakened it was known for been a hill and the community had a different economical activity and it was not based on tourism, La Fortuna was populated by just a few families and it was dedicated to agriculture and cattle raising.
Later, alter five hundred years of inactivity on July 29th 1968 the Arenal Hill or "Sugar Bread" exploited burying the town of Pueblo Nuevo and affecting the town of Tabacón and many others in a perimeter of 4 km. According to many survivors one day before the explosion there was an uncountable amount of quakes and an uncomfortable heat, even for the dawn in the morning of the 29th the quakes won't stop and finally between 7 and 8 in the morning it exploited. The explosion opened three craters. From three crates, volcanic material came out. In just one minute the territory and the people around the volcano were burned because of the gases and incandescent rocks with temperatures between 1.000 and 8.000 degrees Celsius. The people died burned or melted by the caloric wave that the eruptions produced.
Some of the bodies were found hours later with their skin with hot plastic texture. The estimation of the dead people it was between 80 and 100 victims. The wind spread all the ashes to Tilaran town affecting the entire resident and their animals, also the virgin forest was completely destroyed, and all the pastures and crops suffered a lot of damage. Two days later, July 31st of 1968 a second explosion happened and it reached a group of volunteers which came from Ciudad Quesada town to help on the emergency. The first cone was active until 1973, after that, the volcanic activity immigrated to the last cone and nowadays it has the activity. The accumulation of material it has increased the cones, and nowadays two cones share the same crater.
Certainly you could say that the Arenal Volcano is the main attraction of the zone, but there are additional attraction. The Arenal Lake is one example which is a lake artificially made after the construction of a dam in 1979 taking advantage of a small lake with the same name.
This caused the complete flooding of the towns of Arenal Viejo and Tronadora and the government has to relocate 2500 people to a new town. This lake is cataloged between the five best places in the world for windsurf, the lake is import for tourism in La Fortuna, and for the whole country as well because it is the biggest electric generation project in Costa Rica and nowadays it produces around 363.410 KW of hydroelectric energy for a big part of the country. In addition it also supplies of drinkable water to the communities.
With not doubt the eruption of the volcano caused big social-economical changes in la Fortuna, a proof of this is the implementation of tourism in the zone and the enormous increase. At the beginning the people saw the volcano as a dangerous risk but slowly they began to change their mine and they started to see it as a great tourist attraction.
According to the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism the area of La Fortuna appears as an important touristic site until the second half of the decade of the 1990, more of the 85% of the tourists visiting the country went to this area. Some of the additional attractions in La Fortuna are:
- Arenal Volcano National Park
- Lava observation
- Thermal Waters
- Fishing at the Arenal Lake
- Hanging bridges and canopies
- Complementary activities: Tour the farm
All those attractions have become the Arenal area to be the obligatory stop for many people who visit La Fortuna. Tourism has made big changes in La Fortuna; an evidence of this is that in the year 1972 there were two hotels in the zone and for today there are not just a lot of hotels, but we can also find most of the complementary services of the touristic industry. In this list of hotels we can find the Arenal Manoa Hotel.
The Hotel Arenal Manoa is the result of a huge family effort. The Cedeño family moved from the town of La Balsa, San Ramon to the area of La Fortuna in the year 1964, they were dedicated to the ranching of cattle and agriculture.
Knowing the potential of the tourist activity in the zone, Ganadera Manoa of La Fortuna S.A. dedicated to the production of milk and meat, decided to take advantage of part of the ranch to develop the project called: Hotel Arenal Manoa; which started the construction in February of 2005 and opened to the public on April 2006.
One of the main objectives of the Hotel is involve the guests on the productive activities in the Manoa Farm, there is organized a free daily excursion to the farm in case the clients decide to do something different meeting the daily activities in a traditional Costa Rican farm., you only have to make the reservation one day before at the Front Desk. The roads to the farm are in your entire disposition even if you want to take a walk in the afternoon and you can also take a trail which will take you to the middle of a forest located in the back side of the hotel. All the way to the farm, you will have the opportunity to observe a variety of plants, birds and insects. Once you arrive to the farm you will have the option to see the process of milking and to have the experience of participating in the duties of the farm like to milk and feed the cows yourself. Also you can appreciate the raising of pigs. In the same way you will find the chicken are from the hotel takes the daily eggs you eat at the breakfast and the chicken for some dishes, as well as you can see crested turkeys and faisanes which are there because they have been found by the farm workers. There is also the area of sheep which is very special for children.
The Manoa farm tries to works in a sustainable way causing the minimum possible damage to the environment. The farm is in a reforesting process. A part of the consumed food in the hotel's restaurant is produced in the farm.
Hotel Arenal Manoa were are part of the started evolution after the Arenal explosion, and it is a example in the change of main for the original farmers before 1968, and the new character with a management vision taking advantage of the attractions in the area, and at the same time it contributes to maintain the natural resources with sustainable activities, giving great contributions but huge efforts the preserve the environment. This mentality has taken La Fortuna of San Carlos to be the touristic wonder that today we share with the rest of the world and that allows us to say that we are owners of a treasure in this natural paradise that we call Costa Rica.