Carlos Lodge Waterfall Expedition
There's an old trail winding down the backside of the mountain at the Carlos Lodge in Arenal. It's barely wide enough for one person. Disappearing in the tall grass and reappearing at the switchbacks, the trail leads through a pasture and into the forest in the river valley below.
I wouldn't have ever known about it, if it weren't for Greivin. Rancher, farmer and father, Greivin owns and cares for the 37 acres of land that encompass the hotel, his farm and pasture.
Built on a hill overlooking the Arenal Volcano, the hotel is surrounded by fruit trees where Greivin and his family grow oranges, mangoes, lemons and more. In the field behind the hotel, the family has a subsistence farm where they grow the black beans, bananas, plantains and papayas that serve for breakfast in the hotel.
Hiking to Carlos Lodge Waterfall
Today though, Greivin wants to show me something else. Walking in front of me with his stepdaughter Yaudieth, he points out the boundaries of his property. Together we walk down the backside of the hill through the pastures and into the forest.
Occasionally, Greivin takes his machete and hacks at the vegetation growing over the trail. As we walk, he explains they're repairing the trail; building new steps and putting in a wooden ladder to replace the rusted metal ladder we hiked down.
The Arenal River cuts through the bottom of the valley. Jumping from rock to rock, we work our way upriver to a waterfall. The fall, a 30-foot-drop over a mossy rock wall, comes from a small stream that flows down the backside of the mountain, through Greivin's property joining the Arenal River. The cool water lets off a light mist. The moss glitters in the light where small beads of water collect.
Afterwards, we hike back through the forest and wrap around back toward the stream that feeds the falls. Reaching the stream, we decide to try climbing up through the gorge rather than turning back. Soon however, we reach another waterfall; this one maybe 20 feet high.
Too flat to climb, we look for an alternative. An old, sturdy tree trunk leans against the wall. Greivin takes out his machete and starts chopping; carving small stairs into the log. With each step, he climbs higher and cuts another until he reaches the top and jumps onto the ledge. Taking off our shoes, Yaudieth and I scramble up after him.
Again though, we reach an impasse; another cascade maybe twelve feet high. Greivin goes first, but his hand slips on the wet rock and he tumbles back into the water. On the second attempt, he manages to scramble up with the help of his daughter.
Once on top, Greivin cuts down a thin, sturdy branch and lowers it down for us to grab. Realizing it's possible to just reach out a hand; he grabs us and pulls us up the cascade. With my camera slung across my chest and my shoes hanging around my neck, we hike barefoot upriver until we reach a muddy bank. Slipping our shoes back on, we hike back to the trail, through the pasture and toward the lodge.