Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal
Trip Start Sep 17, 2010
12Trip End Oct 03, 2010
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Where I stayed
I switched over to Spanish and asked him why he asked. He thought he detected a Spanish accent in my English. Go figure. Maybe if I were to stay here long enough I’d start to lose my English, though I can’t imagine that ever really happening.
Our first stop was at an 800-year-old Guanacaste tree that’s growing out of the middle of an intersection in Liberia
Volcán Arenal is an active volcano that appeared to be dormant until 1968 when it erupted destroying three villages, killing about 80 people and 45,000 cattle. Since then the level of activity has been much lower and people, many of whom provide services to the hoards of tourists who flock to see the volcano, have settled back in. It has, however, continued to belch smoke, ash clouds and lava flows; sometimes generating spectacular displays.
Of course I was hoping to see it put on a show for me but the bigger question was whether we’d be able to see it at all since there was a good chance it would be totally obscured by rain clouds.
To get there we had to travel all the way around Laguna de Arenal, a large, artificial lake created by ICE, the country’s electricity company, to generate hydroelectric power
We stopped at a private reserve to hike the trails in its section of rain forest. It was actually more of a stroll than a hike since the trails were all level, well graded, graveled and drained. They also built ponds, food stations and other animal amenities to attract wildlife, though the animals are not captive and are free to come and go as they wish. I don’t know if that’s considered cheating but that fact, plus my guide’s greater knowledge of the wildlife and sharper eyes than mine combined to help me see and photograph more wildlife than I would have seen on my own. The downside is that being with a group I had to move along at their speed and they didn’t stop as long as I would have liked most places so there were pictures I couldn’t afford the time to take.
Our next stop was at a hotel with a series of pools fed by a subterranean river of geothermally heated water. The pools are arranged sequentially and as you move closer to the source of the water the temperature of the pool increases. The hot water felt good but it very much had the feel of a highly commercial enterprise trying to imitate nature, rather than natural hot springs.
As the sun set, the time came when I was hoping to catch the glow of hot lava cascading down the slopes of the volcano or erupting from its crater set against the dark sky. Clouds, however, totally obscured the volcano and there were no sounds of explosions so that part of the hoped-for show didn’t occur and, after dinner, we started the three-hour trip back home.