Volcan Arenal

La Fortuna Travel Blog

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Volcan Arenal dominates to the west of La Fortuna, Costa Rica.

Hello all,

Today I had a tour booked through the Hotel San Bosco with Canoa Aventura.  We went on a nature hike through some tropical jungle, relaxed at the Baldi hot springs, and went to the southwest (opposite) side of Arenal travel guide">Volcan Arenal for some late night observation.

The nature hike was pretty low impact, but I was certainly fine with that.  The weather was hot but beautiful, and we had a group of about 12.  There were nine Americans, two from British Columbia, and one Aussie.  An entirely english speaking group.  This is a real change to my last two trips to Southeast Asia ans South America, where Americans were in the vast minority.

A more typical picture of Volcan Arenal shrouded in clouds.

We saw two different types of monkey, Howler Monkeyss and White-faced Capuchin Monkeys.  The Capuchins were certainly more active and curious, swinging wildly through the trees about 20 metres away.  I wish I had a better telephoto camera, but even then a picture would have been difficult.  We also saw many birds, the highlight being a couple of toucans.  Then as we were leaving we saw about 10 wild boar in a ravine.  There were a few babies included in the group, eliciting much cooing and many awww's from the group.

We were scheduled to see the volcano next.  Arenal is notrious for being shrouded in clouds, and this time was no different.  Our tour guide Juan Carlos suggested that we go to the hot springs next, and observe the volcano later.  His theory being that the clouds would lift as night fell.

I was amazed that this picture of the White-Faced Capuchin Monkey turned out.
  The group agreed and it was off to the Baldi Hot Springs.

The admission to Baldi is usually $25, so I felt I was certainly getting value for my $35 package.  It is supposedly the second nicest of two in the area, but it was very nice.  I changed into my swimming togs, and headed for the pools.  Just then the skies opened up.  It would have been the first rain free day of the trip, but I am in the tropics during the rainy season after all.  It was actually perfect timing.  The thunder and lightning chased away almost all the other bathers leaving the pools very empty.  I enjoyed the increasingly hotter pools for a couple of hours before changing to prepare for the volcano bus.  Just as I was ready the rain stopped.  How perfect.

The bus got us at 8:30pm, and even though it was a full moon, the rain had stopped and most of the clouds had departed.

One of the spa pools at Baldi Hot Springs. The one on the left was so hot that nobody ever succesfully got into it.
  As we caught our first glimpse of Volcan Arenal I knew that Juan Carlos had made the right choice.  A bright orange spot was visible just below the perfect cone of Arenal.  The spot get brighter and brighter as we spied the mountain through the jungle on the rough road.  After parking the van we joined about 30 other people at the observation point.

We were probably about 2 or 3 kilometres from the volcano itself, but it was very visible in the bright moonlight.  Near the summit there were intermitent expulsions of bright orange lava.  They would emerge from the glowing, smoke belching top, and roll and bounce down the side of the mountain for minutes at a time.  As they rolled down they would explode and divide as they travelled down the side, eventually coming to rest below our view.

The swim up bar at Baldi Hot Springs outside of La Fortuna.

All in all, I was very happy get a view of my first active volcano, but I couldn't help but feel a bit disappointed that we were not allowed to get closer, or that the display wasn't more spectacular.  I know, I know, what a big whiner.  :)  Believe me I do understand that this is a very dangerous thing that has killed over 70 people as recently as 2000, so no need to tell me that.  And, I wouldn't have seen anything at all if not for the great guide instincts of Juan Carlos.  I will have one or two more chances to see some flowing lava in Nicaragua, so wish me some luck.

On the way home from the tour I realized how tired I was.  It was a struggle just to keep my head up on the drive back to the hotel.  I guess that I may have gotten three hours of bus sleep in on the journey yesterday.  I was asleep within 15 minutes after getting back to the hotel.

AndiPerullo says:
I just returned from Arenal myself. Didn't get to go to the springs because of the bad weather, so I'm glad you were able to enjoy them! Have fun on your future adventures! :)
Posted on: Jun 03, 2007
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Volcan Arenal dominates to the wes…
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A more typical picture of Volcan A…
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I was amazed that this picture of …
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One of the spa pools at Baldi Hot …
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