Are You Afraid of the Dark? La Fortuna Night Safari Float

Are you afraid of the dark?

I am.

I’m 26 (27 in 2 days!) but there’s no age limit on being a scaredy-cat.

Wherever I am in the world, if I’m sleeping alone (my fiance isn’t there, I’m not sharing a room with a friend, or sleeping in a dorm) – I keep the light turned on.

If you’re a millenial American, you probably remember the creepy show of the same name (Are You Afraid of the Dark)… then, at 10 years old, I was afraid to admit my fears.

Now, I’m not. This phobia is a fact of my life that I’m not ashamed of, but I am trying to slowly overcome it. Especially by shock exposure.

My trip to Costa Rica was solo, and I tried to turn off my night light as much as possible (okay, let’s be honest, it’s not a night light – it’s the actual light).

But even more than that – I tried to really shock my system with a pretty terrifying (to me) experience.

I signed up to do the La Fortuna Night Safari Float… basically float down the river in the forest at night in pure darkness… when all the creepy crawlies come out, all the monsters are awake, and I’m stuck on a boat without escape.

La Fortuna Night Safari Float

La Fortuna Night Safari Float

I decided and paid $60 for the La Fortuna Night Safari Float, so I knew I couldn’t back out (the only thing I hate more than the dark, spiders, and heights? LOSING MONEY)… but I was definitely panicking the whole day leading up to the trip.

The tour leader picked me up from the Bromelias Hotel, and drove me, an American couple, and a new Tica employee trying out the tour about 20 minutes to the boat launch location on the Penas Blancas River.

La Fortuna Night Safari Float

And then the boat was ready.

La Fortuna Night Safari Float

After putting it in the river, we jumped in the boat and were handed paddles, provided instructions, and off we went on our Night Safari Float!

La Fortuna Night Safari Float

At the outset, the sky was still bright and sunset hadn’t occurred.

La Fortuna Night Safari Float

Our guide pointed out endless varieties of birds, in flight and resting in the trees.

La Fortuna Night Safari Float

He would do anything to be sure that we all were able to see the animals – even almost hanging himself up on a tree, in order to ensure we saw a monkey!

La Fortuna Night Safari Float

La Fortuna Night Safari Float

Eventually, the inevitable happened, and the sun finally disappeared. The true meaning and vibe of the La Fortuna Night Safari Float was finally apparent.

And I was a bit freaked out…

La Fortuna Night Safari Float

After darkness settled in, this was the level of visibility as the guide’s lone flashlight led us further down the river. And it only got darker,

and darker,

and darker.

Bats swarmed around in front of the boat – I couldn’t see them, but I could hear them, and feel their wings stir the air as they swooped down to catch the bugs fluttering above the river and flapping towards the boat, drawn in by the flashlight beam.

Almost 2 hours into the ride, the guide shored the boat up and disappeared for a few moments, returning with a precious find.

La Fortuna Night Safari Float La Fortuna Night Safari Float

This Blue Jean frog (see his blue legs?) is poisonous, and should be handled with the utmost care. The guide emphasized the importance of treating all wildlife with gentle care and respect, explaining how he washed his hands in the river and rubbed dirt on his fingers before picking up the tiny fellow, to avoid harming him with any leftover soap residue.

After our group had taken enough photos of the frog to last a lifetime, the guide returned the frog to where it was found, again emphasizing the importance of respect and consideration for wildlife and the delicate forest ecosystem.

Witnessing birds, bats, a poisonous frog, and a troupe of monkeys absolutely made my day. The guide for Green Vacations was amazing, and beyond knowledgeable about every animal that we encountered. It was an awesomely educational experience, in addition to showing me that even in the middle of the forest – darkness isn’t scary but actually quite interesting!

La Fortuna Night Safari Float

The Necessary Details

The Night / Twilight Night Float in La Fortuna can be organized by your hotel, or booked through Green Vacations here. If rafting isn’t your thing but you still want to challenge your night phobia, try a night hike (book on Viator here). Either night adventure is around 60USD.

Make sure to heavily douse yourself in bug spray (and bring a bottle with you), and a bug bracelet might be a good idea as well.

It got a bit chilly, so bring a sweater.

A waterproof duffel bag is a good choice, as sometimes the river water splashed into the boat (and maybe the guy in front of you won’t be a very controlled paddler)

Staying in the La Fortuna city center (like at Hotel Bromelias) is cheap and convenient, and most of the arranged tours provide transportation.

Looking for more adventure in La Fortuna? Check here

Would you ever try a night float or night hike?

If you already have – what did you think of it?


A short vacation in Thailand turned into a life abroad with a canceled ticket home. Nearly a decade later and after living in Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, Puebla, and Puerto Vallarta, Steph is on to her next adventure and living back in beautiful, cosmopolitan Mexico City. She is living, traveling, and working (both as an expat therapist and an international health insurance representative) around the world to find the beautiful, inspirational, and interesting while sharing it with you!

Find me on: Web | Instagram | Facebook


  1. December 14, 2015 / 9:26 am

    I recently did the Rio Frio safari float but during the day, which was amazing. I know the Penas Blancas one is equally as good but the night time safari is definitely intriguing, I have never even thought they would have a night time float at night! That would scare me too, especially for the bats and crocodiles, but as long as you have a good guide then it should be alright (hopefully haha!) How cool your guide was able to find the blue jean frog in the dark! Good eyes!

    • December 15, 2015 / 1:52 pm

      I heard Rio Frio was great for seeing animals! If I had more time I would’ve done that one as well…
      The guide said we’d be able to see crocodiles by their eyes showing red in the light!! Luckily, there weren’t any… It was an awesome trip and I totally recommend it!

  2. December 14, 2015 / 11:19 pm

    So you could overcome your fear of the darkness on this trip and enjoy the rafting trip in darkness.
    Are you now less afraid of the dark overall as well?
    (I guess so right?)

    • December 15, 2015 / 1:52 pm

      I’d say I’m definitely less afraid of the dark and of insects!
      Not totally cured though… Haha 🙂

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