Around the Center

Due to the proximity to La Fortuna de San Carlos, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, students and faculty visiting the Soltis Center can also take optional trips in addition to the academic and research activities planned at the Center. These activities are charged separately and fees are fixed by the operators. The Center’s staff in charge of academic groups can provide valuable information about these and other activities, and also can help in arranging the logistic. Some activities and sites are described below.
Arenal Volcano National Park
It represents the main attraction of La Fortuna region and one of the best ones of the region thanks to the majestic Arenal volcano, with its particular conical shape and activity since 1969. Thousands of tourists and scientists visit the area motivated mostly for its beauty and natural history.
There are many places with different fees where the visitors can go to get amazing panoramic views of the lava flows coming down from the summit in addition to the presence of some old lava flows from former eruptions which act as great examples of natural regeneration.
In the forests and trails that surround the national park area and buffering zones, hundreds of orchid species have been identified. Another attraction related to the area near the Volcano is the Arenal Lake, at 85.5 Km2 it is the largest artificial lake in Costa Rica and the second largest lake in Central America. Because of its location on the outskirts of the Arenal Volcano and by being surrounded by several mountains and hills, the lake receives a strong influence of winds, making it one of the most famous places for a wide variety of aquatic recreational activities, such as windsurfing and kite boarding, among others.

The Children’s Eternal Rainforest
This is the largest private reserve in Costa Rica, with an area of 22,500 hectares of protected tropical forests in the northwestern region of Costa Rica. This reserve borders the Arenal Volcano National Park, the higher elevations of Monteverde and Miramar, and the Alberto Manuel Brenes Reserve in San Ramon. It continues through the San Carlos zone, close to the populations of San Jorge, La Tigra, San Isidro de Peñas Blancas, Chachagua, and El Castillo.

This exists thanks to the help of children and adults all over the world who have taken part in what is known as the Children’s Rainforest Movement. This fundraising campaign started in Sweden and the United States of America in 1987, and continued to expand around the world. At present, 44 different countries have contributed to the acquisition and protection of the territories of the reserve. In addition, on the 18th of September, 2007, UNESCO declared the BEN part of the Peace and Water Biosphere Reserve.
Proyecto Asis – Wildlife Animal Rescue Center
Proyecto Asis is an organization dedicated to wildlife protection, environmental conservation, and fostering positive cultural exchanges through education and service. It serves as an animal rescue center, Spanish school and volunteer center.  Proyecto Asis’ Animal Rescue Center strives to give the animals the care and respect that they deserve while rehabilitating them. It is also committed to providing quality Spanish classes, where the student is engaged and immersed in Spanish and Costa Rican culture. Lastly, the volunteer center offers a variety of opportunities for the local communities and foreign participants to work together in order to increase environmental conservation awareness through communication and community service.

Hot Springs
These represent a good example of the volcano’s influence on the underground springs, heating the waters in some areas up to 101 oC or more, providing natural geothermal hot springs used by visitors for relaxation and medicinal purposes.
There are several operators offering hot springs, with an ample variety of pools and water temperatures, including in some cases, waterslides and Spa services.
Zip lines – Canopy Tours
These activities are the most popular among visitors of La Fortuna area. While using the zip lines, visitors enjoy the panoramic view of the Arenal volcano and tree canopy of the rainforests.
White Water Rafting
Another exciting activity for those visitors who want to feel the emotion of challenging the currents of some of the fast moving rivers of the northern zone of Costa Rica: Sarapiqui, Toro Amarillo, Peñas Blancas and Balsa. Rapids are between class 4 – 3 and the exuberant diversity of plants, birds and reptiles along the riversides can be enjoyed by the company of the professional guides leading the tour.
El Castillo Snake Garden
Located in El Castillo de la Fortuna, El Castillo Snake Garden offers a very unique collection of native amphibians and reptiles of the areas around La Fortuna and the Arenal Lake. Visitors are introduced by experienced guides to the natural history of the herpetofauna and butterflies.
Among the collection, are famous and feared species of venomous and non-venomous snakes like the majestic bushmaster, Fer de Lance, Rain forest hog nosed pit vipers, Eyelash palm pit vipers, Ebony keelback and Gray snail suckers, among others. Amphibians like the beautiful Red eyed leaf frog, blue jeans poison dart frog and masked tree frogs are also part of the live collection.
Luna Nueva Lodge and Farm
Just 10 minutes away from the Center, there is Luna Nueva Ecolodge and Farm, where visitors can experience a unique and ideal balance among agricultural production, biodiversity and conservation. Through the Farm Tour, visitors are exposed to tropical crops, water buffalo dairy and organic farming. A visit to the biointensive garden is also included, where guests are offered to taste numerous plants and herbs, the same ones used in their restaurant. Additionally, among other tours, the ecolodge also offers Chocolate tours and sacred seed garden tours.

Don Juan Educational Farm
This is an agriculturally educational experience. Guests learn how methane gas and compost are produced from organic products on the farm. Participants help harvest ingredients for their meal to strengthen their connection to the education. Visitors have the opportunity to taste tropical crops and discover organic cultivation methods.  The finale of the tour is the troja (sugar cane press), a place for guests to process sugar cane in a manual press. In addition to enjoying fresh sugar cane juice, sugar cane products are sampled in the form of a candy called sobado.
Ecologic farm
This farm shows visitors the traditional style of farming, such as the production of cheese and the manual milking of the cows, combined with some traditional agricultural crops and their medicinal uses. Visitors are invited to participate in the most common processes of the Costarican cultural heritage.
Venado Caves
This is a tour that takes the people to a system of caves made of limestone formed during the Miocene Period, about 15 to 20 million years ago. After their formation, the caves remained below sea level for an extended period of time, until tectonic movements caused their emersion to the surface. A river runs through the caves that has worked as a determinant factor in the development of a large range of shapes in many of the beautiful stalagmites and stalactites formations that represent one of the main attractive of the Venado caves. On the way through the river and at times passing small waterfalls at the different sections of the caves, visitors can see marine fossils, bats, spiders, crickets, whip scorpions and other insects 
with the help of the tour guides.
Other activities beyond La Fortuna are (one or two days trips):

  1. Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge (Ramsar site, Acuatic birds and largest population of spectacle caimans in Costa Rica)
  1. Tenorio Volcano National Park (Rio Celeste Waterfall)  
  1. For more detailed information about several famous tour destinations in the provinces of Costa Rica such as San Jose (Capital City), Puntarenas, Cartago, Heredia, Limon, Alajuela, Guanacaste, please check:
For these and other activities, please contact the Soltis Center staff for more details.