Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Arenal Volcano National Park

Volcan Arenál was our first major attraction of Costa Rica and the only volcano we explored during our trip. We stayed in the nearby city of La Fortuna and drove our rental car to the National Park, less than 30 minutes. Arenal used to be quite an active volcano, giving spectacular shows of spewing magma and smoke every night (Google pictures because they're stunning). Unfortunately, it’s been dormant since 2010. Still, the volcano’s perfectly shaped cone and the views of Lake Arenal made this activity well worth it.

Picture from Arenal Volcano Inn: http://www.arenalvolcanoinn.com
Admission into the park was a $10 parking fee. For the first part of our hike, we took the Las Coladas trail to the end but on the way back, we took the El Ceibo loop. Our trail can be easily completed in two hours, definitely less if you don’t plan to take too many pictures.

The end of the Las Coladas trail is on the volcanic rock.
Most of the path is wide and well-maintained, except for the short section that takes you up above the forest at the end of the trail. Here, the path is on the volcanic rocks and there were a few rocks that weren't as stable as they looked. Test your footing! The view at the end of the Las Coladas trail was the best on our hike with picturesque angles all around.

Our group in front of Arenal Volcano.
The walk through the forest was beautiful and on the loop back, we saw the amazingly huge Ceiba Tree. We didn't see too much wildlife during our hike but we did see different birds, butterflies and coati. After our hike, we drove to the Mirador lookout point for a few more pictures.

Ignas with the Ceiba Tree.
Overall, I recommend dedicating a half day to visiting the National Park but not any more than that. There really isn’t anything else to do besides the trail, while the possibilities in the nearby area are endless (zip lining, waterfall rappelling, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, kite/wind surfing, hot springs, etc.). Don't forget to bring water and snacks for the hike.

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