Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica
Arenal Volcano National ParkArenal Volcano National Park, is a Costa Rica wonder not to be missed. Arenal Volcano National Park is a few hours north of San Jose. Near the town of La Fortuna, it offers many other sites and things to do other than watching that towering, classic cone-shaped volcan
Watching the Lava Flow
But first, let’s look at the main attraction – a classic cone-shaped volcano with eruptions every forty-five minutes or so. For the best view, head up to the Observatory, which also offers lodging. Cerro Chato, which is dormant, is nearby. Also, you can enjoy a breathtaking waterfall in the area.
You can get a great view from La Fortuna. After dark, the red glow of minor eruptions is clearly visible except during rainy season. For a closer look, you can pay an entrance fee and drive into the park and then proceed on foot as close as is safe at the time of your visit. (There have been several eruptions in the past few years, and access is naturally restricted if one occurs while you are here).
Guides are available for a reasonable fee, and they can show you through the cool forest leading up to the base. Several of the hotels have hot springs, and there is a public hot springs alongside the left side of the road on the way in.
Don’t enter restricted areas, and avoid pirate tours. They are cheap and will offer to take you to areas not allowed by licensed tour guides. But they are also risky. One of our writers barely missed getting toasted on such a tour in 1998, when a major eruption took place eight hours after he climbed down the huge blocks of lava from the eruption in 1968. It has been quite active since then. The parks service began adding more warning signs and pamphlets to tourists in June, 2006
Lake Arenal and Monteverde Park
At the foot of the volcan lies a large lake with the same name. Here you can go fishing and boating, and it is considered one of the world’s leading spots for windsurfing. But swimming is not a great idea, as crocodiles have been reported near the shore in the past few years.
On the outskirts of La Fortuna you’ll find canopy tours, a waterfall, picnic areas, rafting and a variety of sightseeing opportunities. Day trips to nearby Monteverde or Santa Elena are a must for nature lovers, and the view of the volcan from within the cloud forests there is awe-inspiring. And if you are driving on the the Guanacaste coast or Liberia, don’t miss the geysers and another live volcan at Rincon de La Vieja National Park.
With its north-central location, you can visit this awe-inspiring volcan from San Jose, Guanacaste and even Jaco on a day trip. But there is so much to see and do, you’ll regret it later if you don’t spend at least one night here. It is an amazing spot for an adventure vacation.
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