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Guide to Costa Rica: Arenal Volcano

Written by Thomas Power | 14th January 2014 |


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Arenal Volcano rises in a symmetrical cone above the town of La Fortuna and the surrounding lowlands of central-north Costa Rica. It's one of the most famous spots in Costa Rica, and became so for the active volcano, which spewed forth molten rock and ash on a daily basis.

The volcano used to send out almost daily outpourings of incandescent lava, mushroom clouds of gas and steam, and ejecting hot boulders which bounce down the slopes - however these days activity is restricted to little more than the occasional puff of smoke.

However, the area offers plenty of other attractions, as owing to its popularity, a huge array of activities and excursions have been created in the vicinity. A boat trip across Lake Arenal provides some stunning views of the surrounding hillsides, as does a visit to the Hanging Bridges, a series of suspended pathways through the forest canopy.

The forests can be explored at your own pace without a guide, but if you want to hike in the forest near the volcano a guided tour is a must for your own safety.

There is also a number of hot springs to be found locally, where you can relax in the thermal waters with the deep rumblings of the volcano as a soundtrack.

If you plan to stay here it is worth having your own hire car, as the activities are not all within walking distance of each other and local taxis often charge a premium.

For your personal safety never venture beyond the permitted areas and do not attempt to hike near the crater. Although the volcano is not dangerous at a distance there is a very real danger in the off-limits areas. Poisonous gas emissions, ash columns and incandescent avalanches are all regular occurrences; they can appear or change direction without warning, and do claim lives.

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