Feel the Latin heat with a visit to Costa Rica's Arenal Volcano National Park. Originally believed to be one of the country's dormant volcanoes, the Arenal volcano erupted in 1968, which ironically boosted the province's tourism. With the volcano coming to life, it has become one of Costa Rica's most active volcanoes
, drawing tourists to visit the Arenal Volcano National Park and behold the majesty of Costa Rica. Prior to Decmeber 2010 the volcano was very much alive, as it had regular lava flows and cinder blocks tumble from its mouth. At night, visitors could witness one of nature's fiercest and most spectacular displays when sometimes, hot lava that flows from Arenal Volcano's mouth provides a striking contrast to the peaceful Costa Rican nights. Most of these go on at the Arenal Volcano's west side, as winds blow lava and cinder blocks towards this direction. Even though no lava eruptions have been recorded since December 2010 Arenal Volcano is still considered active and it is in fact the #4 most active volcano in Costa Rica. Many volcanologist believe Arenal Volcano is just in a quite period and it will again spew lava in the near future.
The Majestic Arenal
Having a perfect cone-shape and clouds rolling in at the volcano's peak, the Arenal is among the world's most beautiful volcanoes. The Arenal Volcano's majesty has always been a source of awe and wonder, even back in history, as Pre-Colombian tribes considered the site sacred.
The Arenal Volcano National Park extends 12,016 hectares located in the huge 204,000 Arenal Conservation Area, where 12 life zones and 16 protected areas lay. This massive protected area is nestled between the Guancaste and Tilaran mountain ranges. The Arenal Volcano Park is actually home to two, not one, volcanoes, with the more famous one being the park's namesake. The other volcano in the Arenal National Park is the Chato Volcano, the volcano whose crater has collapsed years ago. This volcano's collapsed mouth, called Cerro Chato, created a beautiful emerald lagoon.
Many travelers who visit the Arenal Volcano National Park hire guides and walk through the secondary and primary humid forests that leads to the old lava trail created in 1992. The hike to the lava trail is a very pleasant and it is anywhere from 3 - 5 km walk. Once on the lava trails there are incredible views of both Arenal Volcano's west flank and the massive Arenal Lake. Arenal Volcano National Park is worth a visit while in the Arenal Volcano area. Guests need not worry about safety, as park officials would ask people to evacuate the area should risks be present.
Map of the Area
Tourists could also visit the neighboring Lake Arenal, which generates 40% of Costa Rica's hydroelectric power. What makes this body of water interesting is that it is the site of the Lake Arenal Dam, Costa Rica's biggest hydroelectric project.
The Canadian International Development Agency and World Wildlife Fund Canada have developed a project that is aimed at working hand in hand with the locals in creating buffer zones in the area. Aside from creating protected zones, the project is also encouraging locals to promote ecotourism
in the Arenal Volcano National Park.