Arenal Volcano

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Arenal Volcano

Monday, December 28, 2009

Today we woke up early again because we had a long day ahead of us. Our tour today was to Arenal Volcano, the biggest and most active in Costa Rica. Our guide, Alex, and driver Mariano, picked us up in a tou van. We drove to pick up a few more people. One couple was Helga and Leslie. They lived in New Jersey (Helga was originally from Germany). There were also two other girls, one was named Jenn and I can't remember the name of the other one.

They were surprisingly from Dracut, Mass which is two towns over from my parents. I could hear their Boston accents from a mile away! The nine of us started the trek up the mountain to the rainforest and volcanoes listening to Alex the whole way. Man does he love to talk! He was great though. He said he had a degree in Ecological Biology and it was clearly his passion. He started out telling us about the city of Liberia and the roads in the area. It was neat learning about route 1 that runs all the way from Anchorage, Alaska all the way down to the bottom of South America. It’s the longest road in the world. He spoke a little of the public and private schools and how important education is to them. He told us that all students take English and French their whole lives. In some private schools they do English immersion where the only class spoken in Spanish is Spanish class.

As we make our way out of Liberia and up to the higher elevations Alex started to talk about the agriculture of the country.

He pointed out every tree, and shrub along the way. We saw lots of cows. He also pointed out wind turbines and man-made canals. Costa Rica really is a very eco-friendly country. They produce enough natural energy for every home to have electricity. They also have very clean drinking water.

The road we were on for most of the trip was quite sketchy. It was majorly curvy with huge pot holes, one lane bridges, and giant inclines. There were a few places where the road had simply eroded away. Mariano, I think, was a former NASCAR driver because not only did he race around the hairpin turns but he was passing everyone on the double lanes. My life flashed before my eyes more than once. The whole time Alex was on high alert. Any time he saw an animal or an interesting plant, the van would stop and we would all get out on the side of the road to take pictures. He would always say, “Watch the traffic.

I don’t trust Costa Rican drivers”.

My favorite stop was when we saw about ten Howler Monkeys in a huge tree. They were a lot bigger than the White Face Monkeys at our hotel. They were all just chilling out in the tree, not moving around too much. It was hard to get a good picture of them because they were so high up in the tree. We also stopped for an animal called a Coati. First we saw a male. They travel alone. Then we rounded a corner and saw about thirty females. Some cars had stopped and were feeding them. Alex yelled at the people for feeding them. We also stopped when Alex spotted a three toed sloth at the top of a tree. This thing was sunning himself about 100 feet high on the smallest branch possible. When we got out we were in front of a family’s farm. They told us that there was another sloth in a tree in their field. They let us go around the fence and through their yard to see him. This sloth was also sleeping but much easier to see because he was so close.

When we got to the base of the volcano we went on a two hour rain forest hike. Alex was in all his glory. He told us about every leaf and tree in the forest. For the most part it was pretty interesting. There were certain leaves that can poison you when you touch them. I was a little disappointed in the lack of animals. We saw a few turkeys in a tree, some leaf cutter ants and a few birds. We even saw a toucan but it flew away before I could take its photo. I was really hoping to see some colorful snakes and frogs, but no such luck.

We drove a few miles to this five star resort called “The Springs”. This place was amazing. It was built so that everywhere you went; you had a perfect view of the volcano.

turkey
It had many pools of natural hot springs of all different temperatures. At one point when we were relaxing in one of the pools, we looked up and saw a small explosion come out of the top of the volcano. We had a beautiful dinner out on the balcony and once it got dark, you could see the red lava at the top of the volcano. It was hard to see because the clouds were usually covering it, but every once in a while they would clear for a second.

The ride home was a little less eventful. Most of us slept. We stopped to take a picture of a two-toed sloth hanging from a power line in the middle of the road. We didn’t get back to the resort until 11:00.

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Arenal Volcano
Arenal Volcano
turkey
turkey
Costa Rican Flag
Costa Rican Flag
Howler Monkeys!
Howler Monkeys!
coati
coati
females
females
Our hiking trail
Our hiking trail
Wasp nest
Wasp nest
a turkey in a tree
a turkey in a tree
Alex
Alex
leaf cutter ants
leaf cutter ants
leaf cutter ant hill
leaf cutter ant hill
If you look very closely you can s…
If you look very closely you can …
three toed sloth
three toed sloth
three toed sloth
three toed sloth
The Springs Resort and Spa
The Springs Resort and Spa
Mineral Springs
Mineral Springs
two toed sloth
two toed sloth
this little guy was hanging from a…
this little guy was hanging from …
Arenal
photo by: anlis