This is our first guest post, by our friend Marina Villatoro of Travel Experta (her bio is below). If you're interested in contributing a guest post to Pulpology, drop us a line!
The Arenal volcano is a 1,633 meter high mountain with a perfect conic shape and a crater of 140 meters. It is geologically considered a young volcano and its age is estimated to be less than 3,000 years. The locals also know it as "Arenal Peak," "Pan de Azúcar," "The Canaste Volcano," "The Costa Rica," "Río Frío Volcano" or "The Guatusos Peak". It is located in the northern region.
It was asleep for hundreds of years and had a single crater with minor fumaroles covered by dense vegetation. In 1968 it had an eruption that created three more craters on the western flanks but only one of them exists today. Arenal is considered to be Costa Rica's most active volcano and almost every night the crater offers a spectacular show of lights with its explosive eruptions, creating the most amazing views. Although the main attraction is the Arenal Volcano, the area offers much more:
Arenal Volcano National Park
Arenal Volcano is actually part of this national park. There is also a second volcano called Cerro Chato, which has been inactive for around 3500 years. The park is part of the Arenal Tilaran Conservation Area that protects 16 protected reserves in the region between the Guanacaste and Tilarán mountain ranges including Lake Arenal.
Lake Arenal was originally a small lagoon, but in 1973 the Costa Rican Institute of Electricity built a dam and within three years, this became the biggest lake in Costa Rica with a surface of 88 square kilometers. It is a wonderful place to windsurf or do some sport fishing.
La Fortuna Waterfall
This is the most popular excursion in the area, after Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal. The waterfall is reached by a 5.5 kilometer gravel road. On foot it takes about an hour to get there, but you can also visit it by horse or by car. Bird watching is also very popular in this area. Once you have reached the waterfall, you can take a trail that will lead you to a natural pool where you can go for a swim.
The Arenal Hanging Bridges
Here you will find eight bridges measuring between 8 and 22 meters and six hanging bridges that vary between 48 and 98 meters. From there you will have a great view of both the Arenal Volcano and the lake. Some of the most popular activities here are the natural history walk, early morning tour, bird watching and night walks.
The Venado Caves
The Venado Caves are located in the village with the same name, about an hour by car from La Fortuna, to the north of Arenal Volcano. Water is what formed the caves many million years ago. Presently, the caves consist of limestone rocks, stalactites, stalagmites and corals. It has a total length of approximately 2.5 kilometer with 10 large quarters. During the rainy season the tunnels can get filled with water. This is the reason access by visitors is forbidden in this season.
Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge
The 10,000-hectare reserve of Caño Negro has the most biological diversity in Costa Rica. There are trails and paths, but the easiest way to access it is by boat. The Rio Frio flows through it and during the wet season it becomes an 800 hectare lake. The reserve is especially popular among birdwatchers and sport fishers.
Peñas Blancas Wildlife Refuge
This 2400-hectare refuge was created to protect plant species and the watershed of the rivers Ciruelas and Barranca. The river canyons were formed million years ago when Central America was covered by the sea, by unicellular algae that built up deposits and transformed into chalk like stone.
About the author: Marina has been living in Central America for over 7 years and her site Travel Experta is all about traveling in Central America. Marina loves to help people plan the perfect vacation to this amazing part of the world! You can sign up for her RSS feed and join the fun on her Facebook fan page and follow her on Twitter at @MarinaVillatoro.