I have never seen a volcano.. All the more I was really excited when we decided to visit the volcano Arenal.
First of all some information about this place:
The volcano Arenal is one of Costa Rica's youngest volcanos and was one of the most activists volcanos in the world. From 1968 to 2010 it spoke out lava and stones which flew over 300m high. With all this it grew every year some meters more. 2010 Arenal stopped the activity and started to slumber. The volcano is 1670m high and impress with the perfect cone shape. Next to the big volcano is another one, the litte brother Chato with 1140m which wasn't active for more than three tausend years and has a Laguna on the top.
The Arenal with his beautiful National Park is full with interesting flora and fauna, hot springs and waterfalls around every corner and is located in the province Alajuela in north Costa Rica. The National Park Arenal is more than 120km² big and in the 240km² big Arenal Conservation area which protects about 16 reserves between the Tilarán and Guanacaste mountain ranges.
Arenal’s climate is variable. Both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans have an influence for the temperature and weather at the volcano.
We stayed three days on the east side of the volcano at the very touristic city Fortuna in a backpacker hostel. Definitely a good place to stay. It's possible to start with all the trips from this place, you have a pool, nice people around, a good view of the volcan and you're close to the middle of the city.
The first day we went with a guided tour to the National Park in the afternoon directly after we arrived. We´ve got some information about the volcano, had a short walk in the park with explication about the special flora and fauna at this place and went to a waterfall. At the end of the day we had a bath in a hot creek. Hot floating water like in the hot springs, candle lights and the jungle sound, for me an awesome experience!
The next morning we were motivated and planed to climb up to the volcano Chato. We took a Taxi to the National Park, payed 10$ entrance and started with our 8km hike.
During the first kilometers we had the feeling to be back in Europe. Conifers forest and huge meadowlands with cows made it to look like the Black Forest in Germany. After the relaxing almost flat part our hike started to get more difficult. The way up and down to the Cherro Chato was only 1,5km long but we started at 775m and had to climb up to 1140m. It was raining, the way was muddy and slippery. On the top we expected to have a great view of the volcano Arenal or of the Laguna of the Cherro Chato. But all we got was a cloudy view downhill.
However we were full with mud but we enjoyed the trip!
Our last day we went to a 70m long catarata called "La Fortuna". We had a beautiful view of the waterfall coming out of the cloudy jungle and falling down in the valley. After climbing down 500 steps, I can still feel my knees, we arrived were the huge amount of water is falling down and going over to a turquoise blue stream. Beautiful place! Of course we were prepared and ready with our swim suits to have a swim next to the waterfall and in the river.
All in all it was a great weekend with two cool trips to the Cerro Chato and the waterfall La Fortuna. Unfortunately the top of the volcano Arenal stayed the whole time hidden behind clouds. We had a free view for 10s but at this moment my camera decided to show condensation inside the objective, thanks humidity and Canon. Therefore no photos but still a good memory of my first volcano!
With every step you do, birds are flying away. The National Park Arenal is full with birds.
If you visit Costa Rica and you are interested into birds you definitely need to make a stop here! My highlights were the Purple-throated Mountain-gem, Laughing Falcon,Great Curassow and all the different Seed-Finches or Grassquits in the meadows.
--- Sorry, because of storage problems on my site, I had to delete those photos. -----
--- I'll upload the photos in a better quality after my trip. ---