Jetlag towards west part of the world is a good thing – I enjoy getting up shortly after 5AM and seeing a sunrise (one of many). We decide not to get into the lazy ambiance that you could easily fall into here in Costa Rica, but organize ourselves and leave San Jose. Our destination for today: volcanoes.
We have almost no traffic on the roads (a little reward for starting your day early) and we arrive to Poas National Park @9AM. This means – no people around and all the spectacular morning views were only for us!!
On arrival (entrance fee in the park is 10 USD p.p.) you park your car in a secured parking (quite an important fact when you are travelling with all your luggage and your car is Suzuky Jimny) and take a short walk uphill. It takes you about 10 minutes to get to the viewing platform that is 2300m above sea level, and when you get there… you want to stop breathing for a bit in order not to scare the beauty away.
We stood above the clouds and beneath us was a green/blue lake called “Laguna Caliente” inside the volcanoe. (Poas is one of the 5 active volcanoes in Costa Rica) The crater is approximately 1.7 km wide and 290 – 300 m deep. You smell a little bit of sulfate in the air and we had that beautiful feeling of first times – first time when you stand above the clouds and first time when you look into a volcanoe. Something that still makes me smile every time I return to that memory.
If you still feel like walking, there is a short 30min hike to inactive crater that has turned into a lake Botos now. It is much more peaceful and if you arrive early enough, all you hear are some birds around you. If even that… In the beginning when we got there, it was just silence…. After having lived in a city all year round, I appreciated a lot this very first of many moments of having only sounds of nature around me.
Getting to the volcano Arenal
Our next destination is another active volcano: Arenal. We have booked a hostel in the area of the lake (yes, this one comes with a real lake next to it where you can have loads of fun windsurfing and kitesurfing. Be prepared to be in a colder weather conditions though). It is approximately 70km away but if you decide to go to Costa Rica, be prepared that most of the times these 70km will take you approximately 4hours to get there. Why, you wonder? Mainly because of the road condition, which allows you to have maximum speed of 60kmph.
Before the very end of our destination we arrive to an unpaved part of our road and now it is time to start our rally driving… Literally. Because that is how it goes – the slower you go, the more you’ ll feel the holes an imperfections on the road. Whilst if you drive fast, you just fly over them :)
Anyway, after a rough ride we arrive to the Arenal Essence Boutique Hostel. This is first of the places where we stayed and that we would recommend at any time to anyone. When I was looking for the accommodation in the area, for me it was important to find something that was not overpriced and that had good reviews. This hostel was marked so hight on TripAdvisor that it seemed almost foolish not to try it out. It is like a backpackers paradise with a cheap accommodation, owners with a golden heart (Nico and Kelly really had answers to all our questions) that will help you to orientate in the area and will give you advice on what to do, great food and a great concept – kitchen and dining room is common for everyone. You get to meet people over dinner and breakfast and it feels like a big family there.
Oh, yes, dogs are a big thing in Costa Rica – almost every hotel had 1 or 2 dogs. In Essence Areanal you will have a great German shepard Abu that would love to play with you and if you decide to go fow a hike in the jungle next to the hostel, he will gladly go with you. He might scare the wildlife away though 🙂
Unfortunatly Nico informs us that volcano has not been active for the past 6 weeks and our chances to see actual lava outburst are quite slim. On top of that this is a bit more rainy than we have expected and on our arrival we can’t even see the Arenal fully. Even though hostel is located on a mountain just in front of the volcano. Views (as we find out the next morning) are spectacular – of the volcano and the lake beneath it, as well as all the jungle around us. Something worth waking up for very early in the mornings 🙂
Photo moments (click on the pictures to see more pictures)
Essence Arenal Boutique Hostel + views to volcano Arenal