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Poas Volcano National Park in Costa Rica

March 2, 2017

Poas Volcano National Park in Costa Rica

Poas Volcano National Park is the closest volcan to San Jose, the inland capital near in the Central Valley. Its spectacular geysers have been called the biggest in the world.

Dormant for 12 years, it erupted again in late March of 2006, with the initial eruption blasting a plume 100 feet high.

North of the city, Poas Volcano National Park is also the nation’s best developed and maintained, and should be high on your list of tours and things to do while staying in or passing through the capital. You can sometimes see it from downtown: look north, and it is on the far left side (the one on the right and closer isVolcan Barva)

Driving to Volcano Poas.

Unlike Arenal Volcano, this is one of the few active volcanoes whose peak can be reached by car. Not only that, but it remains active — and you can peer right down over the edge and get some truly amazing pictures. It’s about a twenty-mile drive from the city. And this is a spellbinding journey with scenery straight out of a fantasy novel.

Driving east from the city, you’ll find the turn off about a mile before reaching Cartago. There are local buses on the weekends, and can book day trips all week long. Keep in mind the high altitude and don’t overexert yourself

Also, bring a long sleeved shirt or a sweater.

Bring a picnic or box lunch, or eat at the visitor’s center, which also houses a museum and, naturally, a shop that sells souvenirs.

The last major eruption was in 1989. But you will still witness steam and plumes of smoke wafting up from the yawning crater more than 300 meters below the guard rail. During Rainy Season, it gets misty even on days of no rain. Rain gear is recommended, an umbrella at the least. It also gets cool in the late afternoon. Because the sky turns cloudy about that time, we advise making a morning trip.

This parque nacional is a multifaceted gem. On one face, the crater’s many magical colors and patterns, like the surface of Mars or some other planet. On another, the emerald forests surrounding it, and the colorful hummingbirds, quetzals and other birds, bringing to mind the The Wizard of Oz.

The most romantic, often otherworldly, path to follow is a twenty-minute stroll along the Sendero de la Escalonia, leading from the parking lot to a picnic grounds. It’s like a time tunnel of green. And if you have time and love grand vistas and sunsets, stay the night in a nearby lodge for some of the most spectacular in the entire Central Valley.

In December of 2004, access was made available to a new area known for its many birds. El Canto de los Aves has a path made of wood and concrete, which is less slippery than a natural path. Like the others, it is open from 8 AM through 3:30 PM, and until 4:30 on weekends (the earlier, the better).

In October, 2005, this water in the main lagoon reached its highest temperature in ten years. This does not suggest an imminent eruption, though the geysers may be more spectacular.

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