The van for the Poas Volcano tour came to pick me up at the hostel early in the morning. I was the first person they picked up for the tour, Julie (friend I made from the last tour) was second. It was nice to see a familiar face and have someone to talk to during the tour.
Our first stop on the tour was at the Doka Coffee estate in Alajuela. We had a delicious breakfast and sampled a few of the plantations coffee flavors. After breakfast, a local guide walked us through the plantation and the coffee making process. We saw the different growth stages of the coffee bean plant before moving over to the factory. We learned about the machines used and the different roasts and flavors that they produce.
Growing coffee plants
The coffee plantation tour ended at the gift shop where I picked up a few bags as gifts for people back home.
Next we drove over to the Poas Volcano site. It was cold and foggy up in the area, a major climate difference from the sunny coffee plantation we had just visited. We hiked up the short paved path to the volcano viewing platform. Our guide gave us a brief history of the volcano and the surrounding vegetation. He pointed out a plant with large palm leaves, it was called the poor man's umbrella. When we reached the volcano's crater there was a lot of fog and smoke covering the area making it difficult to see. Our guide told us that the winds were constantly changing and that it might blow some of he fog out of the way if we were lucky and patient.
We waited for a few minutes, but decided to check out the lagoon and come back to the crater again later. We hiked through a foggy forest covered path to the Botos Lagoon. It kind of reminded me of the scean where Snow White gets lost in the haunted forest. It was pretty cool. The lagoon was once an active crater and has now filled up with rain water. Took some cool pictures and enjoyed the view before heading back to the active crater. We arrived back at the crater at the perfect time, the wind blew enough of the smoke away giving us a clear view of the crater. I snapped as many pictures as I could before the smoke came back and covered it up again.
Our last stop on the tour was at the La Paz Waterfall Gardens. There was a big earthquake that hit in January 2009 and it ruined a lot of the surrounding area.
Coffee bean structure
The La Paz Waterfall actually just reopened to the public. The Waterfall Gardens was a really lovely place, it felt like a mini resort and was full of amazing things to see. We started our journey through the gardens at the Bird Atrium. The birds were freely roaming around the atrium, surrounded by native plants. There were a few areas sectioned off for the owls and Toucans. We were able to walk into the Toucan cage, which was really cool. The Toucans weren't afraid of us at all, they were very curious and came right up to us. After the birds, we walked through the monkey cages. There were a few different species of monkeys swinging a climbing around the cages: spider, white faced, and little marmosets. Those small monkeys moved around so quickly that I couldn't get a good picture, only blurry ones.
We moved on to the butterfly atrium that was right next door. There were tons and tons of butterflies flying around and landing on us. One decided to land on my wrist and rest for a while, pretty awesome. It looked like a had a butterfly bracelet on. There were also a lot of dead ones on the floor and along the corners, which was pretty sad. After the butterflies we checked out the coolest area, which was the hummingbird garden. There were a bunch of hummingbird zipping around drinking nectar from the feeders. It was even harder to get a picture of the hummingbirds. I could only get a picture of the ones perched on the feeder drinking nectar. There were so many flying around, I couldn't focus my attention on one. After the hummingbird garden we had lunch at the cafeteria, it was a buffet with an assortment of delicious local and international foods.
After lunch we checked out the snake house and frog exhibit before hiking down to the waterfall gardens. The path to the waterfall was newly constructed since the earthquake had ruined most of the area. Some areas were still being worked on and covered by black tarps. It was a pretty nice walk, not too difficult. We had to go down a couple stairs to get to the bottom of the Magia Blaca waterfall. First we hiked over to the viewing platform to get a view of the entire waterfall, which was 37 meters high. Then each of us took turns hiking down to the lower platform to take pictures. The waterfall was huge, we were practically getting rained on from standing so close to it. You could clearly see the earthquake damage around the waterfall, all the vegetation was gone and replaced with mud.
It was still cool, but I'm sure it was 10x more awesome before the earthquake. We checked out another smaller waterfall across the bridge before hiking back up and to the main lodge.
Overall the tour was great, I highly recommend checking it out. It was a full day of adventure, well worth the price of the tour.