ARENAL LAKE CROSSING AND VOLCANO HIKE
Time was flying by on our Costa Rican adventure and onto our third destination – Arenal. After a mid-morning pick-up in a four wheel drive, we were headed to the small town of Rio Chiquito on the shore of Lake Arenal. The 2 hour drive, winding through the picturesque hillside towns went through many pretty little villages in Monteverde with phenomenal views of Lake Arenal.
Upon arriving in Rio Chiquito, we swiftly boarded a private boat and started our 40 minute journey to Arenal Dam. En route, our captain stopped to scope out the local wildlife and give us photo opportunities of the Arena Volcano; which could be seen in all its glory as it was a lovely day with virtually no cloud cover.
A BIT ABOUT THE AREA…
The Arenal Volcano National Park is located within the much larger Arenal conservation Area, which protects over half a million acres of rain forest, rivers, lakes and old volcanic lava fields. This area contains a great wealth of geologic and biological complexity. The volcano is around 5,500 feet high and has erupted a few times. Arenal also plays an important role in Costa Rica’s energy production. Lake Arenal, which rests at the base of the volcano, supplies a high percentage of the countries hydroelectric energy. The area is home to a remarkable biodiversity. Since 2010, the activity of the volcano has decreased and is now mostly fumarolic with occasional Phreatic eruptions at the top of the mountain. Therefore there is no lava flows and hiking up close to the crater poses a danger and is not permitted. The geologic activity makes for very hot springs where the temperatures can be as high as 54°C.
Upon docking, our car and driver were there to meet us for the onward trip to La Fortuna, a small town in Arenal, where our hotel was based. We were staying at The Nayara Garden Resort & Spa (A family resort) and its sister hotel Nayara Springs, which is strictly adults only.
ACTIVITIES IN ARENAL
The 1968 Hike Trail
One of our main reasons for choosing Arenal was to experience the volcanic terrain and how it differs from the other regions of Costa Rica, but also to serve as a mid-way relaxation break to re-charge our batteries after all the hiking and wildlife experiences. Therefore we decided on a volcano hike taking the ‘1968’ Trail.
Following a short drive and safety briefing from our guide, we were around the Flanks of Arenal Volcano. The hike takes place around private land used as buffer zones helping to protect the adjacent Arenal National Park. The hike trail is aptly named, ‘The 1968 Trail,’ as this was the year of the largest registered eruption. Arenal is classified as a ’young’ volcano, about 7000 years old.
The hike is about 3 miles (5km) and covers quite a lot of steep rocky terrain with occasional inclines of 24-35% (for all you serious hikers out there!). The elevations gained during the hike are about 500-2200 metres at the summit of the old lava flow.
Arriving at the Lava Flow Summit
A well earned seat!
For all the twitchers out there, you can catch glimpses of rare species of birds and secondary forest with regenerated vegetation.
Pineapples growing around the outskirts of the lava flow
Views during the hike
Bamboo lined paths towards the end of the hike
An Eyelash Viper hiding in the trees
Pretty orchids during descent
Besides this hike trail, there are a mass of outdoor activities to busy your time if you don’t fancy mooching around resorts or indulging in a spot of Zen at the spas. The lakeside, volcanic location is ideal for kayaking and other water sports. There are many volcanic springs to visit if you wish to have a lovely relaxing dip and numerous waterfall settings to get that all important ‘I’ve been to Costa Rica’ selfie! Additionally there is the nearby town of la Fortuna to visit, to buy souvenirs and there is also the wildlife refuge for rescued animals, if like me you are hot on wildlife preservation.
Typical! The clouds come down as we reach The Lava Flow Summit!
Activity-wise that was our lot for Arenal and the surrounding Lake! Following the hike, Dr C and I were both looking forward to the thought of sipping long cool drinks in our Jacuzzi or lying back in hammocks and taking time to reflect on the once in life-time experience this diverse country was unravelling. If you fancy a nosey around the Nayara Resort – the most lux hotel in Arenal, be sure to read my hotel review post.
So that’s your lot with Arenal (except for the hotel review!) How would you fancy doing one of these hikes and have you ever been on such a beautiful lake crossing? Infact have you ever visited an active volcano before?
Nayara Spa and Garden Resort
02 Road 21007
Provincia de Alajuela
Tel: +506 2479 16
Read the next part in The Pura Vida Series…