When it comes to Costa Rica and its symbols, the Arenal Volcano regularly tops the list. This volcano, the youngest still active in the country, attracts many tourists, although access to its summit is prohibited for obvious security reasons.
The Arenal Volcano, Presentations and its surroundings
Credit : @nick_mge
The Arenal Volcano is recognizable by its almost perfect young volcano plastic. From its height of 1720 meters, it dominates the pretty town of Fortuna which is the ideal entry point to the National Park which bears the name of the volcano. Symbol of the country, it is a stop to make in Costa Rica during your stay.
The Arenal Volcano is about 7,500 years old… and not a wrinkle! Though ... It held its perfect conical shape for centuries until one day in July 1968 when it woke up on the wrong foot and erupted violently. Its explosion caused large eruptions for several days which caused the death of 87 Costa Ricans in addition to destroying 3 villages: Tabacon, Pueblo Nuevo and San Luis. For the region it was a shock and the start of a difficult period. Imagine: more than 230m² of land was destroyed, crops razed, not to mention properties destroyed and 45,000 head of cattle killed.
For about 40 years, the Arenal volcano was the most active in the country with repeated lava flows and so-called pyroclastic explosions (rock ejections and clouds of ash). The last big explosion dates from May 24, 2010 while remaining much less violent than that of 1968.
Since 2010, the volcano has rested despite some snoring as in 2012 when we could see jets of water vapor and gas.
The Arenal volcano is now constantly monitored very closely. You risk nothing by going to the surrounding towns and hotels. They were all built at a safe distance from the volcano so that an eruption could not reach them.
We understand better why access to the summit is prohibited. Don't worry, there are plenty more hikes that are going to take the country to new heights.
Discover the National Park od the Arenal Volcano
A nice playground for hikers
Although the summit is not accessible, there are several hiking trails at the foot that give you different views of the volcano. Do not try to see the cone at all costs and take the time to admire the nature around you. Try to spot the pretty Ceiba. This tree, of the same species as the Fromager, is considered a tree of life. As for the fauna, birds accompany you throughout the walk. You can also see some reptiles and the lucky ones will see monkeys.
In the park, you will also pass by ancient lava flows. If you have enough time, take a trip to the Observatory Lodge to be able to continue on the ascent of Cerro Chato which has been well and truly extinct for 3,500 years.
Practical information: access to the park costs you $ 15 per person. You have no choice but to rent a car to get there. You will have no trouble parking at the entrance. :-)
Be careful not to confuse its entrance with that of the 1968 lava flows which is just before. As with all national parks in Costa Rica, we recommend that you visit Arenal Volcano National Park with a guide. There are French speaking guides who will show you everything you need to see with their keen eyes. In addition, you participate in the development of the local economy and that is great ;-)
A little tour in the Canopy
Because in addition to hiking, we have the right to a little more lightness. How about exploring Arenal Volcano Park in a different way? Different circuits offer you to zip down the sides of the volcano at high speed. You will be as high as the treetops and can reach up to 100km / h, do you imagine? Adrenaline and thrills will be there for sure. A taste of what to expect at Monteverde Natural Reserve.
But that's not all, around the volcano there are also suspension bridges and other cable cars to discover the local flora and fauna from another angle. These high suspension bridges allow you to enjoy the Canopy and observe nature from up there, at your own pace. We loved it and you will undoubtedly like it too :-)
What to do around the Arenal Volcano ?
Tabacon hot springs
You will love it: hiking in Costa Rica requires energy, your muscles are strained and aches can be felt, especially if it is a recovery after several months of underground-work-sleep. We remind you, you are on vacation, the idea being not to come home more tired than you left. In short, we strongly advise you to take advantage of being in the area of the volcano to go for a walk to the Tabacon thermal center very close to here. The place is legendary and very popular. Of course, access is chargeable and may seem expensive. But we have good news: the heated river is not limited to the Thermal center. Do you see us coming? Get out of Tabacon and go a little further into the river to enjoy a moment of relaxation, in natural, warm and relaxing water ... Free ;-)
Otherwise, there are many hotels in Tabacon which have their own thermal pools. Treat yourself, it's worth it.
Visit of Fortuna
The village of Fortuna can be visited and it is very pleasant to walk on the main square of the village and visit its church. You will easily find many restaurants to welcome you and can leave with memories. Perhaps the number of these shops erases the authenticity of the village a little bit, but it is nonetheless pleasant to walk there at the end of the day. Also take a trip to the Cascade de la Fortuna which is known and recognized in the country.
Near Fortuna is also Lake Arenal, an artificial lake at the foot of the volcano. It is very popular for kitesurfing and windsurfing. During your hike you can have lovely views of this largest lake in Costa Rica. you can also drive around it. it will allow you among other things to become aware of its size! it is still more than 85km²!
When you go to Costa Rica, go to the various beaches of the country whether it is to surf or to rest is obviously a must. But that's not all. you cannot go there without testing the hiking trails or even going to see the different volcanoes.