Volcano adventures in Costa Rica

Everywhere you go near Lake Arenal in Costa Rica, the perfect cone of the Arenal Volcano is not far from sight. We first spotted it on the southwest shore of Lake Arenal, then again two days later while driving to Tabacon Hot Springs. Its beauty and the stories surrounding it (an eruption in 1968 destroyed two villages, and its spewing lava lit up the night sky for years before it fell silent in 2010) certainly lured us in, so we visited Arenal Volcano National Park to get up close and hike in a lava field.

On the fertile lava field that leads up to the Arenal Volcano.

On the fertile lava field that leads up to the Arenal Volcano.

The basic park has three hikes and we chose the 1.6 km trek to the lava field. It was neat to watch plumes of smoke and ash streaming down the flanks of the volcano, but we all agreed the highlight was spotting two bright yellow eyelash pit vipers asleep in trees on the return hike to the car.

Even though the volcano hasn't erupted in five years, it still emits smoke and ash daily.

Even though the volcano hasn’t erupted in five years, it still emits smoke and ash daily.

The following day Desafio Adventure Company saddled us up with Lobo’s Tours for a brisk horseback ride to popular local attraction La Fortuna Waterfall. Unlike trail rides in Canada where you plod along slowly, almost falling asleep as your horse follows the tail of the horse in front of you, this was a horseback derby where each mount vied for the lead. The result was constant trotting and reining of horses so they didn’t gallop into the forest on either side of the wide trail as they sought leadership. It also made taking pictures of Arenal Volcano problematic.

The only time it wasn't a race was when the horses stood still at the beginning of the trail ride.

The only time it wasn’t a race was when the horses stood still at the beginning of the trail ride. Blake’s horse is Marlborough; Avery rides Millionario.

By the time we reached the waterfall Arenal was out of sight, shrouded in clouds. A winding (and in parts crumbling) jungle staircase of 475 steps brought us down to the main attraction, La Fortuna Waterfall, which was in full force dropping 75 meters into a large pool at the base of the dormant Chato Volcano. It was fun but impossible trying to swim out to the waterfall as the water surge kept pushing us back.

La Fortuna Waterfall  falls 75 metres and is gorgeous.

La Fortuna Waterfall falls 75 metres and is a top attraction.

After a crazy trot back to the ranch (and a final glimpse of the volcano), we were faced with one more white-knuckle adventure: driving back to Nuevo Arenal in the dark.

 

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2 responses to “Volcano adventures in Costa Rica

  1. HeyyyY, that looks awesome! I’d love to go to that waterfall! I missed that area when I was there. I went to the Carribean coast instead. Looks like you guys had a blast!

  2. Pingback: Horsing around in Cochrane | Drink - Play - Love

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