The trailhead says this is difficult and should take 2 hours total. The difficult bit is accurate, as this is more of a scramble than a trail. It is muddy in areas and you should watch what you grab onto for leverage (we came upon...More
We climbed Cerro Chato about a month ago, and started on the Arenal Observatory side before coming down the La Fortuna waterfall side. To get to either starting point you'll probably want a car/taxi - you can walk to the... More
We climbed Cerro Chato about a month ago, and started on the Arenal Observatory side before coming down the La Fortuna waterfall side. To get to either starting point you'll probably want a car/taxi - you can walk to the waterfall side starting point from town, but it's about 4-6km and given that you're just about to climb a big hill, you probably want to save your energy :) From what we saw/climbed, I would say the Observatory side was harder as it is steeper on that side, and at times it's more of a "scramble" holding onto tree roots etc than it is a "climb". Also, the waterfall side has rough steps cut into the ground for a lot of the walk which makes things easier - no such assistance on the observatory side. We got a taxi to take us to the Arenal Observatory Lodge, which is where the walk starts from on that side - I think it cost about $25. You then need to pay to go through the lodge grounds - $8 maybe? We then went up the observatory side, down into the crater, back out of the crater, down the waterfall side, and then walked to the waterfall and spent some time there before walking back into town. In total, it probably took us about 7 hours, but if you just did a straight climb up and then down it would be a lot quicker. I'd advise starting fairly early in the morning, as the weather tends to be better then, and whichever side you start from, I would not advise climbing if it is forecasted to rain - the paths on both side are made of mud, and if it rains it will become much much harder to climb - and probably slightly dangerous.